School of Education News

Graue part of unique project receiving DreamUp Wisconsin funding

November 05, 2018

When UW–Madison was selected by Schmidt Futures as part of its Alliance for the American Dream Initiative, the grant came with a significant challenge: Produce innovative ideas for increasing the net income of 10,000 Dane County families by 10 percent by 2020.

DreamUp Wisconsin, the local implementation effort launched to meet the challenge, has selected 11 proposals, from a total of 46 submitted by teams of community and university partners, which offer innovative ideas to grow and support Dane County’s middle class.

And among those involved with a winning proposal is the School of Education’s Elizabeth Graue, who is collaborating with others on a multi-pronged approach to transform the early childhood and out-of-school time sectors.

Graue is the Sorenson Professor with the School of Education’s No. 1-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and the director of the newly launched Center for Research on Early Childhood Education.

The project Graue is a part of is titled, “Transforming The Early Childhood And Out-Of-School Time Care System For The Benefit Of Caregivers, Parents, Providers, & Employers.” This initiative is an effort to transform the early childhood and out-of-school time sectors by launching an employee child care benefit contribution program, increasing operating efficiency though a shared services network, increasing take-up of childcare subsidies, increasing childcare provider wages, and providing at-scale professional development. Partners on this project include: the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, Reach Dane, City of Madison, Madison Out-of-School Time, and Professor Katherine Magnuson with UW-Madison’s School of Social Work.

Additional ideas include: a 10-step financial literacy and holistic financial well-being program; a transportation system linking workers with employers outside Madison; legal services through direct representation and technology to reduce employment barriers; a plan to provide wrap-around services and more meaningful connections with local employers to enrolled students as well as those who had to stop attending Madison College for financial reasons; a plan to help workers advance beyond their first job; a place-based approach to improving housing and work supports; engagement of the manufacturing, construction, and service sectors to improve employment opportunities; a multi-faceted plan to transform the regional food system; a medical debt forgiveness program; and a plan to increase renewable energy sector jobs and reduce energy costs.

These 11 proposals, all of which include a UW–Madison-community collaboration, will advance to the initiative’s next round of competition.  And all, says Institute for Research on Poverty director Lawrence Berger, have the potential to improve the lives of families in Dane County and to inform ways to strengthen the middle class throughout the United States.

“Through this first phase of DreamUp Wisconsin, we engaged the community in identifying ways to improve families’ economic well-being, as well as ways to expand and strengthen the middle class in our county. This is a key issue in Dane County where the strong economy, including relatively high median household income and low unemployment rate, often belies the struggles of its most vulnerable residents and leaves many out of the middle class,” says Berger. “We continue to be thrilled with the community’s response to this initiative and with the innovative ideas for building a strong and diverse middle class.”

For more information on DreamUp Wisconsin, check out this University Communications report.

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