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Ohio State leading community effort to keep the American dream alive

Three ideas chosen to advance in Alliance for the American Dream challenge

The Ohio State University asked, and the community answered with nine bold solutions to bolster the middle class. Now, three of those ideas have been selected to move forward for continued development to meet the Schmidt Futures challenge to raise the income of 10,000 central Ohio households by 10 percent by 2022.

The ideas were developed for the second round of the Alliance for the American Dream challenge.

The Alliance for the American Dream is a network of communities, each anchored by a public research university, which provides access to capital and access to markets for new ideas to support distressed communities locally. Partner universities include Arizona State University, Ohio State University, the University of Utah and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The alliance was created by Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt. In 2018, Schmidt Futures awarded Ohio State a $1.5 million grant to generate ideas to raise the net income of 10,000 middle-class families in central Ohio by 10 percent in two rounds of competition.

In its inaugural effort, the alliance awarded $3 million to five ideas, including Power of Home, developed by the Ohio State team. Power of Home has since raised $1.6 million and will be releasing a platform later this year that will equip 10,000 new homeowners on the edge of the middle class with customized information, advice and financial capital to maximize the economic value of the home and buffer financial shocks.

The three projects selected to move forward to the final round are:

  • 119. A subscription-based service for use on a smartwatch or smartphone to help the chronically ill reduce the number of unnecessary 911 calls, directly combating social and monetary costs of disability.
  • Opportunity Port. A platform that leverages technology, legal expertise and private-public partnerships to empower those with criminal records to begin the record sealing process. This county-wide initiative will leverage a user-friendly web platform, machine learning and behavioral economics to demystify the record sealing application process and promote higher application completion rates.
  • Readyskill. A mobile-designed technology application that will bring together groups of service providers to proactively support individuals who are interested in training or retraining. The platform aligns individuals with educational partners and future employers and is comprehensively supported by local, non-academic service partners in the region.

The three teams will pitch their ideas to the Schmidt Futures advisory committee in Utah at the end of March. The teams will go up against three teams from the other universities in the alliance for a total of 12 presentations. One or possibly two teams from each university will receive additional coaching and financial support to execute their ideas.

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