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Making the American dream a reality

The U's American Dream Ideas Challenge will announce the top 10 finalists on Wednesday, selected from more than 150 proposals offering a wide range of ideas for how to help Utah’s middle class prosper.

Making the American Dream a reality

The second in a series of dialogues on the American Dream will take place Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Hinckley Caucus Room in Gardner Commons.

Panelists will discuss why it is important to support the middle class and examine what cities, states and the federal government can do to help it prosper.

The panel is from 12-1:30 p.m. It is free, open to the public and there will be pizza.

The call for ideas to help Utah’s middle class prosper drew more than 150 proposals from across the state. On Wednesday, U President Ruth Watkins and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox will announce the 10 finalists at a panel discussion on “Making the American Dream a reality.”

“We’ve been thrilled at the level of excitement this challenge has garnered across the state in catalyzing ideas to strengthen Utah’s middle class,” said Courtney McBeth, director of the U’s American Dream Ideas Challenge project.

The 10 proposals selected address workforce development, healthcare, personal finance, transportation and housing affordability, McBeth said.

“Our top 10 teams hail from across the state and include entrepreneurs, students, faculty, nonprofits and government organizations,” she said.

The finalists will be introduced at the panel discussion, which will focus on why it is important to secure and expand the middle class and what cities, states and the federal government can do to help the middle class.

The panel discussion is part of the Campus Community Dialogue—American Dream Series. Panelists include: Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox; Claudia Geist, an associate professor of sociology and gender studies; Bill Crim, president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake; and Sen. Luz Escamilla. Natalie Gochnour, associate dean and director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, will moderate the discussion.

The University of Utah is one of four public universities selected by Schmidt Futures to develop policy and technology ideas for ensuring a vibrant middle class in America.

The U launched the American Dream Ideas Challenge in May with the goal of soliciting 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.

Each of the finalists will receive up to $10,000 to further develop their idea. In November, an advisory board led by Watkins and Cox will select the three best technology and policy ideas from the 10 finalists.

The three finalists will be announced on Nov. 29, and each of those proposals will be eligible for an additional award of up to $30,000 to aid in refining the idea. The U will then forward those proposals to the Alliance for the American Dream, which will provide up to $1 million in additional support to the best ideas that emerge from across the nation.

“The strong response we’ve received to the challenge demonstrates Utah’s innovative culture, rugged individualism and commitment to improving our communities,” McBeth said.