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U Selected By Schmidt Futures To Participate In Ideas Challenge Initiative

President Ruth V. Watkins announced Tuesday the University of Utah has been selected by Schmidt Futures to solicit and develop ideas for ensuring a vibrant middle class in America.

The university, along with other Alliance partners, will seek policy and technology ideas from individuals or groups throughout Utah that have the potential to increase net income for 10,000 of the state’s middle-class households by 10 percent by 2020.

The innovative ideas challenge marks the launch of the Alliance for the American Dream, an initiative of Schmidt Futures. The challenge is made possible by an initial gift of $1.5 million to the university.

The Alliance for the American Dream is based on the concept that a healthier and larger middle class reduces income disparity and provides enhanced opportunity and economic mobility. Its goal is to increase shared prosperity and American competitiveness by generating and investing in ideas that strengthen the middle class by giving more Americans the skills and opportunities they need to improve their lives.

Eric Schmidt is the founder of Schmidt Futures. Schmidt is a technical advisor to Alphabet Inc., a member of its board of directors and its former executive chairman. Alphabet Inc. is the parent company of Google.

“Today, too many middle-class families find themselves at risk of falling into poverty, while too few see a path to build a brighter future for their children,” Schmidt said in announcing the project. “America needs a strong middle class. Our future depends on it.”

Schmidt said the best ideas will come from people working together, in their own communities, using an interdisciplinary approach grounded in facts, data science and diverse perspectives. Ideas on how to strengthen and enable access to the middle class might target raising income or decreasing costs of such necessities as transportation, housing, utilities, food, etc.

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