2019 Idea Team Challenge

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The Challenge - 10% for 10,000 by 2022

For the 2019-20 cycle, ASU Idea Teams must advance ideas that will increase by 10% the net income for 10,000 middle class households in Arizona by 2022. Ideas can include products, apps, services, programs, for-profit/non-profit ventures or policy approaches that increase earnings, decrease expenses or a combination of both strategies.

Competition stages

The Alliance for the American Dream designed the competition with a funnel approach, narrowing the number of participating teams at each stage.

Stage 1: Team Formation and Idea Generation

September 6th, 2019

The university identifies promising ideas through nominations or at-large proposals accepted from other interested ASU-affiliated teams. Teams will be offered tools and resources to help refine their idea and proposal.

Stage 2: Local Competition

Early November 2019

A local advisory board made up of community members will select three teams to represent ASU at the semi-final national competition. The three winners of this stage will each receive seed funding to advance their proposal.

Stage 3: Semi-Final National Competition

June 2020 (Rescheduled from March 2020)

12 teams (three from each Alliance university) present to a selection panel of national judges. Up to five teams will advance to the final stage.

Stage 4: Final National Competition

September 2020 (Rescheduled from June 2020)

Teams pitch directly to Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures, for up to $1 million of implementation funding.

Selection Criteria

In Stages 1-3 of the competition, proposals will be evaluated using criteria set by Schmidt Futures, including the extent to which the solutions accomplish the following:

Effectiveness toward reaching goal – if implemented, would increase by 10% the net income for 10,000 households by 2022

Innovative – a novel approach and/or makes use of technical elements (e.g. artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, etc.)

Measurable – impact can be measured and having a plan in place to measure the impact of the solution

Multidisciplinary – draws on multiple fields, sectors, disciplines, or topics

Benefitting diverse communities – benefits communities at-risk of being left behind in a prosperous economy

Grounded in research – makes use of extant research and/or demonstrates an understanding of clientele/user needs

Partner-focused – partners with community members and external community organizations

Cycle 2 Idea Teams

Meet the ASU Idea Teams competing for $1 million in the 2019-2020 challenge.

Automated, optimized résumés

Team Lead
Paul Hughes, Founder, Enfuego
Dragan Boscovic, ASU Technical Director, Center for Assured and Scalable Data Engineering (CASCADE)

This project helps job seekers, especially those currently un/underemployed find employment by optimizing their resume for each job to which they apply. The tech, developed at ASU, uses machine learning to understand the skills required for each job, conduct a gap analysis, determine how competitive an applicant is,and tailor their resume to each position. The system will also link educational opportunities to upskill.


Gamifying the skills gap

Team Lead
Lisa Flesher, Sr. Director for Strategic Initiatives, EdPlus, ASU

This project expands me3 by matching, initially, AZ government employees with existing educational benefits to educational pathways to up/reskill. The project will focus on credentials that arein-demand, stackable and valuable to help users be competitive in the workforce and increase income.

Lifting AZ

Lifting AZ
Kickstarting economic progress in Arizona by tackling environmental health challenges

Team Lead
Rolf Halden, Founder, ASU Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering

This project uses wastewater to map the sources of toxins in communities that cause health hazards. This real-time health snapshot allows for the targeted deployment of policy, public health interventions and pollution control. Since low- and middle-income families are disproportionately affected by such toxins, this engineering solution will help reduce healthcare costs and income loss due to illnesses.

Project Leverage

Project Leverage

Team Lead
Dave Brown, CEO, Valley Leadership
Lorenzo Chavez - Assistant Vice President, Arizona State University

This project builds on the momentum of Project Benjamin by leveraging a chatbot to deliver timely financial literacy training andadvice. This project will help families improve their credit scores, reduce expenses in other major areas (e.g., housing, food, transportation), and optimize their taxes for refunds, including expanded use of the EITC.


Whole family solutions for customized child care needs

Team Lead
Marie Raymond, Human Services Manager, Education and Senior Services at City of Tempe

This project helps middle class families in Tempe find affordable and quality childcare, enabling them to pursue educational and/or employment opportunities. By helping families navigate this complex system, this project helps them increase net incomes through enhanced employment (e.g. additional hours, promotions, etc.) and/or pursuing educational opportunities.


Improving energy and cost efficiencies

Team Lead
Matthew Aguayo, Co-founder, EnKoat
Aashay Arora, Co-founder, EnKoat

This project reduces the cost of home maintenance and utilities for middle class families using energy-saving wall and roof coatings. These coatings actively insulate the home from external temperature variations thereby reducing utility expenses, HVAC maintenance costs, improved home values and system installations.

Prepped Futures

Prepped Futures
A mobile food incubator for low- and middle-income entrepreneurs

Team Lead
Ji Mi Choi, Associate Vice President, Entrepreneurship + Innovation, ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development
Rick Hall, Senior Director of Health Innovation, ASU Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation

Prepped Futures supports local mobile food business owners in AZ, predominantly women and underrepresented minority entrepreneurs, to achieve higher business sustainability and profitability by scaling Prepped's existing in-person incubator program to a hybrid digital model.

Electrifying the Education of the American Mechanic

Electrifying the Education of the American Mechanic

Team Lead
Ben Lewis, Owner, Bad Craft Studio

This project develops digital curricula and training modules to upskill in-service auto technicians and mechanics, certifying them to work on electric vehicles (EVs) after their warranties expire. As EVs grow in popularity and market share, there will be even greaterdemand for EV-certified mechanics, who have greater income potential.

“We are enthusiastic about the mission of the Alliance for the American Dream, and excited to be an inaugural member focused on creating new and novel pathways to the American Dream. We look forward to developing game-changing solutions that help to provide access and abundance for all.”

- ASU President Michael M. Crow

2019 Community Advisory Board

Meet the ASU Community Advisory Board members who supported ASU Idea Teams through the idea development process.

Ed Borremeo

Partner & COO, Tallwave

Founder, Magna Motus Management LLC

Neil Giuliano

President & CEO, Greater Phoenix Leadership

Christy Moore

Founder & Owner, Social Spin Laundromat

Monica Villalobos

President & CEO, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Principal, ResearchByDesign

Carl Zaragoza

Vice President, Elected Leadership - Leadership for Educational Equity