Alliance for the American Dream at ASU


Through the Alliance for the American Dream, a Schmidt Futures initiative, Arizona State University Idea Teams are working with local partners to raise the net income of 10,000 local middle class households by 10% by 2020.

ASU is one of four universities supporting ideas that seek to strengthen and grow the middle class. With $1.5M in funding over two years, each inaugural public research university in the Alliance - ASU, The Ohio State University, University of Utah and University of Wisconsin-Madison - is working with communities to develop policy ideas or startup concepts that will either raise incomes or decrease costs for middle class Americans. In addition to the initial grant, teams from each university are competing for up to $1 million in implementation funding. Project topics will vary, but will include ideas related to housing, transportation, food entrepreneurship and healthcare, among others.

ASU has enlisted the support and expertise of influential and diverse Arizonans to serve as members of a Community Advisory Board. Together, they will be responsible for rallying community support for the top ideas that emerge from the competition, connecting ASU’s Idea Teams to people, resources, and insights related to their proposal, and selecting the top three teams to compete at the national level.

ASU Idea Teams

Meet the 10 ASU Idea Teams competing for up to $4m in funding to support the middle class

iHeal Idea Team

Indigenous Health, Education, Agribusiness, and Leadership Development (iHeal)

Team Lead
Lauren Chenarides, Assistant Professor, Morrison School of Agribusiness

This project seeks to develop a digital platform that integrates three major components (health tracking, curriculum development, and resource sharing) into what will serve as a nexus for facilitating information exchange between tribal and non-tribal entities.

FAFSA Idea Team

The Power of the FAFSA: Middle-Class Wealth Generator and Statewide Economic Engine

Team Lead
College Success AZ, Sylvia Symonds, Edmundo Hidalgo, EOSS

This project seeks to increase FAFSA completion through four levels of engagement offered in English and Spanish in the targeted communities: raising awareness, kickoff events, small group interventions, and by providing 1:1 assistance, layering in ChatBot/AI functionality throughout.

HomeSharing Idea Team

Intergenerational HomeSharing at Scale

Team Lead
Lindsey Beagley, Founder/CEO of HomeShare Arizona

This project seeks to match college students with older homeowners to rent out living space in exchange for 10-20 hours/week of household maintenance tasks that become more challenging with age (e.g. lawn care, cleaning, grocery shopping, pet care) and/or a reduced rental income.

Workforce Center Idea Team

Workforce Engagement Center at Desert Sky Mall

Team Lead
Chicanos Por la Causa, Kristin Ferguson, Director, Center for Human Capital and Youth Development

This project seeks to create a comprehensive Workforce Engagement Center at Desert Sky Mall to bring together Chicanos Por La Causa’s successful workforce elements in one location, targeting opportunity youth and their families, matching the needs of local employers with the talents of the local workforce.

Autonomous Vehicles Idea Team

Autonomous Vehicles for Mobility Access: How self-driving cars can reduce transportation expenses for middle-class Arizonans

Team Lead
Thad Miller, Assistant Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society

This project seeks to form a public-private-partnership to use an autonomous shuttle to provide low cost mobility to middle and low income families. This project will decrease transportation expenditures by up to $5000/year per household, and provide quality, low cost mobility where it is absent.

Heat Costs Idea Team

Saving Middle Class Phoenicians Money on Heat-Related Costs to Home and Well-Being

Team Lead
Patricia Solis, Executive Director, Knowledge Exchange for Resilience

This project seeks to create a knowledge exchange platform (with desktop and mobile app interfaces) using game elements to motivate 10,000 target households to save up to 10% of their annual income by applying tailored heat-related solutions for their homes and health.

New Trails Navigators Idea Team

New Trails Navigators: A Peer Health Coaching Service Designed to Meet the Needs of Vulnerable Populations

Team Lead
Rick Hall, Director of Health Innovation Programs, CONHI

This project seeks to build a workforce pipeline in healthcare from the criminal justice system to reduce avoidable ER visits and reduce recidivism among the formerly incarcerated.

Money Assist Idea Team

Money Assist: Financial Planning for the Middle Class

Team Lead
Dan Silverman, Department of Economics, W.P. Carey School of Business

This project seeks to help middle class families with their financial planning in three key areas: 1) improve their financial circumstances 2) appreciate the large consequences of small changes and 3) create simple and effective systems for making those changes.

Career Development Idea Team

Using Career Development to Restore the American Dream

Team Lead
Bill Symonds, Director, Global Pathways Institute

This project seeks to help students reduce their education costs and debt by shortening time to graduation and help improve students’ earnings prospects by helping them identify future-facing careers in which prospects are more promising.

LITE Idea Team

Local Investment Technology Engagement (LITE): Accelerating Local Growth for the Middle Class

Team Lead
Pooja Paode, Project Coordinator, Brad Doebbeling, MD, Professor, College of Health Solutions

This project seeks to connect citizen and institutional investors with local investment tools and help them reduce costs and risks associated with local investment and redirect potentially billions in local capital toward Arizona-specific opportunities in local investment.

Community Advisory Board

Meet the ASU Community Advisory Board members who will be supporting ASU Idea Teams through the idea development process

Amy Armstrong

Founder and President, Next Generation Philanthropists

Christine Mackay

Community and Economic Development Director, City of Phoenix

Merl Waschler

President and CEO, Valley of the Sun United Way

Robin Reed

President and CEO, Black Chamber of Commerce

Terri Wogan Calderon

Executive Director and Partner, Social Venture Partners

Chris Camacho

President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council

Jeffrey Pruitt

CEO and Chairman, Tallwave Capital

Patricia Garcia Duarte

President and CEO, Trellis

Steve Seleznow

President and CEO, AZ Community Foundation

Terry Benelli

Executive Director, LISC Phoenix

Key Dates

October 18, 2018 - ASU Teams Announced

Top ten ASU Idea Teams announced

November 14, 2018 - Local Pitch Competition

Top three ASU Idea Teams selected by the Community Advisory Board

January 28-29, 2019 - National Pitch Competition

Top five teams from across the Alliance for the American Dream selected by National Selection Committee

July, 2019 - Announcement of Winners

Funding decisions announced for up to $1 million per team for idea implementation