U project advances in American Dream challenge

Well-being Elevated, a project aimed at boosting mental health well-being, will join four other teams selected by the Alliance for the American Dream to participate in the final pitch competition in September.

The alliance’s national advisory board gave the project the go-ahead after hearing pitches from 12 teams, from four universities, in a virtual meeting on Monday that was originally set to take place on the University of Utah campus in March. Board members noted Well-being Elevated was the only project focused on mental health, a grand challenge in our society and one exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Schmidt Futures founded the Alliance for the American Dream in April 2018 and selected four public universities to vet ideas aimed at raising net income for 10,000 middle-class families in their communities by 10%. In addition to the University of Utah, the anchor institutions are Arizona State University, The Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“We are very proud to be part of this important initiative,” said University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins. “Our American Dream Ideas Challenge has resulted in creative efforts and partnerships aimed at boosting the financial stability of Utahns, which has cascading impacts on all other aspects of their lives. I am thrilled this initiative on mental health, such an important issue for college campuses, received a favorable nod from the alliance.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Well-being Elevated

The Well-being Elevated Team

Well-being Elevated addresses the unmet need for mental health services that can lead to emotional suffering, lost earnings and problems such as homelessness, suicide and mental illness. The project is initially focusing on college students using three approaches—an app, a website and targeted support groups—to provide preventative and scalable mental health promotion services. The team includes professor Ed Diener, a world-renowned expert on subjective well-being and happiness, Carol Diener, a forensic clinical psychologist, and U students Alexander Becraft, Michelle Valdes, Merry Joseph, Ryan Jackson, Mitchell Wulfman and Ayana Amaechi.

The final round of the competition will take place virtually on Sept. 10, 2020, where the five teams will vie for up to $1 million in funding from Schmidt Futures. The other teams advancing are:

  • Opportunity Port from The Ohio State University, a digital intake and case management tool aimed at providing legal help to get criminal records sealed and thus improving access to higher wages and increased housing security.
  • Opportunity Calculator from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a mobile platform designed to provide accurate and timely details on the effects of potential career opportunities on net income.
  • Connect Rx, also from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a care coordination platform that brings together a healthcare risk screening tool, a 211 resources database and referral and follow-up mechanisms.
  • Enfuego from Arizona State University, a digital tool to improve and customize resumes of job seekers to increase success in landing employment.

Well-being Elevated was one of three local finalists in the U’s American Dream Ideas Challenge that presented to the advisory board. The others were Connect to Collect and SAGE.

Connect to Collect is working to increase participation in the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit programs by offering free tax services in trusted health care settings. SAGE is building an intelligent higher education platform to provide timely resources and proactive nudges to help college students progress to completion of their degrees.

About Schmidt Futures

Schmidt Future is a philanthropic initiative, founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, that finds exceptional people and helps them do more for others together. We knit talent into networks, bet on the most promising ideas through diverse forms of competition and support, and equip people to scale through partners and modern tools. For more information, visit schmidtfutures.com.

Learn more about the American Dream Ideas Challenge.

Media Contacts

Brooke Adamssenior news writer, University Marketing & Communications