What is the Data for the American Dream initiative?

Data for the American Dream (D4AD) is an effort to ensure that career pathway and training data that are currently siloed across agencies and organizations are made available to inform the people who need it most: under- and unemployed American workers.

Implementation and Funding Partners

Who is funding this initiative?

Schmidt Futures is the lead funder for the RFP phase of the initiative. While Schmidt Futures has provided the initial operational funding, a coalition of funders will support the pilot projects to ensure financial sustainability going forward.

What is Schmidt Futures?

Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative, founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, that seeks to improve societal outcomes through the thoughtful development of emerging science and technologies that can benefit humanity. To realize this vision, Schmidt Futures uses a broad set of tools — including gifts, grants, investments, and startup activity — for charitable, educational, and commercial efforts with a public purpose. The initiative brings together the efforts of various charitable and non-charitable entities to improve our potential impact by making diverse types of capital available to the efforts we support. For more information, see

What is the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems?

The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) is a private nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve strategic decision making in postsecondary education for states, systems, institutions, and workforce development organizations in the United States and abroad. NCHEMS has deep experience in the development and dissemination of data and information that can lead to better decision making and improved workforce outcomes. More information about NCHEMS can be found at

What is NCHEMS’ involvement?

NCHEMS is the program director for the D4AD initiative. They are providing project management for the RFP process, pilot site selection, and pilot phase.


How much funding will be available through D4AD grants?

We will evaluate each project’s funding on an individual basis.  We expect that the funding amount for each project will range between $750,000 and $1.5 million.  However, in compelling cases we will consider requests for large funding amounts. We also expect that projects will be seeking sources of funding outside of the funding available for D4AD either concurrently or to ensure long-term sustainability of the projects.  

Are there ongoing funding opportunities available?

D4AD grants are intended to be seed funding. Selected pilots will receive some assistance from the D4AD partners in attracting additional follow-on support from like-minded organizations in the philanthropic community. Applicants should distinguish the elements of their projects for which they anticipate being able to raise additional funding support (or revenue) on their own from those elements which would most benefit from assistance from the funders. Preference will be given to projects that demonstrate the ability to secure the commitment of additional funds and that demonstrate the capacity to sustain the work following the completion of the grant period.

Project Design

Can you provide an illustrative example of a type of project that might be funded?

The following are the kind of projects D4AD may fund, but these should not be considered definitive examples, as applicants are encouraged to craft innovative proposals in pursuit of the overall D4AD goals:

  • Example 1. A metro area with a high unemployment rate works to combine data from the state government, local training and education agencies, a proprietary data source, and local employers. These combined datasets will provide specific information for that geographic area on what jobs are available, what skills are needed to qualify for those jobs, and local training opportunities to make sure that the unemployed workers in that area are able to acquire those skills. Once a tool, such as an open API, has been developed, another project partner, a local social service agency, will use the data-driven information to directly provide career counseling to the target population: unemployed, low-income individuals within that metro area.
  • Example 2. A region that crosses the border between two states, but shares a common employer base and employee pool, creates a data-sharing agreement that combines education and workforce data from both states and metropolitan areas to provide a richer picture of available jobs, training and education opportunities, and career pathways for its residents.  This data-driven information is then made accessible to developers and entrepreneurs through an open API, which allows for the development of new mobile and internet-based products.
  • Example 3. A state government agency takes the lead in combining data from multiple state agencies and a private labor market information provider, which provides return on investment measures using education outcomes and longitudinal wage data for all training and education opportunities in the state.  This data is then provided to research teams at a university system, who translate the data into actionable information interventions for residents in the state.  Local workforce boards, K-12 public school counselors, and nonprofit social service providers are then trained on how to best use the information intervention tools to empower hard-to-reach low-income and disadvantaged populations.    

Can we identify a specific target population for this project?

Yes. We ask all applicants to specify a target population with the understanding that the ultimate goal is to increase economic opportunity, equity, and workforce outcomes in the United States. In general, we expect these pilots to help low-income Americans.

The RFP refers to partnerships multiple times – must my proposal include partners?

One of the basic beliefs behind the D4AD initiative is that partnerships, particularly public-private partnerships, are essential to ensuring that the kinds of information that should be made available are successfully made available. We encourage applicants to consider the types of partnerships that could best help them accomplish their projects’ goals and, as part of their application materials, provide support so that those partnerships are attainable during the project period.

What kinds of partners might a project identify?

Pilot projects could include the following types of partners included in this list, which is not exhaustive:

  • State data agencies
  • Regional data-sharing partnerships
  • Postsecondary institutions
  • Workforce training organizations
  • Credential and licensure bodies
  • Regional and local workforce boards

What types of data might a pilot project use?

  • State longitudinal data systems
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Workforce data
  • Training and education outcome data
  • Financial data
  • Proprietary data sources (e.g., Burning Glass, LinkedIn, Glass Door)

What is a sustainable data-sharing partnership? Is an MOU to share data a single time sufficient?

The D4AD initiative ultimately seeks to promote sustainable, ongoing data-sharing partnerships that can provide crucial career pathway information to the populations that need it most. This can be done through formalized partnerships, data collaboratives, or data trusts (among other forms), but achieving sustainability assumes that data sharing is an ongoing activity, not a single event.

A data collaborative or trust is a legal, technical, and governance framework that brings together organizations to securely connect their respective data in ways that create new value for their organizations and the public good. Best-in-class data collaboratives are enabled by secure open-source technology and strong data governance, with a particular focus on ensuring data security and privacy while enabling legal and permissible uses of data necessary for the continued cooperation and sustainability of the collaborative. (See http:/// Data collaboratives can provide the foundations for a variety of tools, including career dashboards, search tools for jobs and education providers, personalized recommendations based on education history and earnings goals, and scorecards to evaluate education programs, like the College Scorecard. Data collaboratives working in this space, in partnership with organizations that can help displaced and underemployed workers use the resulting tools, can be a transformative force in transforming our nation’s ability to help inform individuals’ career pathways.

We have a number of activities for which we are already sharing data in ways consistent with the D4AD initiative’s purpose, broadly speaking. Can we apply for funding to expand those efforts?

Absolutely. Proposals can include projects that add new types of data to existing data-sharing agreements or distribute data-driven information to target populations.

How will data privacy and security be ensured?

As part of their proposals, applicants are asked to provide information about their data security and privacy processes. Proposals that do not have sufficient security and privacy plans or processes (either in place or to be put in place, depending on the overall design of the project) will not be selected.

Selection Criteria

What are the components that you believe will make for a successful proposal?

While we are open to many different types of pilot proposals, we believe that successful efforts will include some or all of the following components:

  • A clearly identified need/problem in the geographic area
  • A vision for how to address this need/problem using a public-private partnership
  • State or local-level leadership in the lead agency, with gubernatorial or mayoral support
  • Technical support from a data science expert in one of the partner organizations
  • Enabling legislation, budget allocations, and/or regulations that support the initiative
  • Supportive state or national advocacy groups
  • Support from major employers in the geographic area
  • Commitment of funding support from local organizations and foundations
  • A realistic plan for how to connect the data-driven information to the end user

How can I prove that I have the support of partners?

To prove that an application has the support of partners, an application might include:

  • Letters of support from state, regional, and local leaders, especially key government leadership
  • Letters of support from local employers
  • Additional funding commitments from local foundations or other funding partners
  • Engagement of partners’ personnel on a leadership team for the project

Applicants are encouraged to show that they have existing data-sharing agreements that are directly relevant to the work they are proposing to do, or data-sharing agreements similar to but not directly related to the proposed work, and/or a culture of data sharing that will be helpful in accelerating progress.

How can we address the sustainability requirement?

Successful proposals will have a plan for ensuring the project can continue beyond the pilot funding period. This might include an outline for a business plan with a reasonable expectation for revenue generation or an expectation for partner organization(s) to maintain related services (including regular updates of relevant data and information) as part of the ongoing budget.

How will projects be evaluated?

A third-party evaluator will be retained to conduct evaluations across projects. In order to facilitate the program evaluation, lead organizations should address the following:

  • Baseline measures that include:
    • What is the current problem (e.g., lots of openings with no matched applicants; high unemployment)?
    • Current state of career pathway, training, wage data — including agreements that are currently in place and what is missing that will be added through this project
    • How is the career pathway information NOT getting to target populations now?
  • One- and two-year goals showing progress against benchmarks;
  • Long-term goal of the project against population goals/problem; and
  • Plan of action and milestones for accomplishing the determined goals

Common Resources

Are there any resources you can recommend we contact to help us with our projects?

In developing proposed initiatives, we encourage applicants to reach out to national intermediaries and other common resources, which might provide additional data sources or infrastructure to improve the prospects of given pilot. 

Examples of these resources include:

Questions from the Webinar

Was the D4AD RFP distributed generally or to an invited group of eligible awardees?

The RFP was distributed generally.

With only three selected pilots, how many invitations are you planning to select?

We expect to invite no more than 10 final proposals; more likely 5 to 7.

What is the official start date for winning proposals?

Grants will be awarded by Schmidt Futures and will be made following the selection of pilot sites in late June. The expectation is the grants will be made in late summer 2019. The grant period does not run longer than February 28, 2021. However, projects may be ongoing.

Do you welcome multiple project streams in one proposal if they are aligned to the various phases mentioned?

Yes, just make sure the proposed project is clear.

Are you accepting proposals from national organizations who are doing state-level or regional work?

Yes, as long as the proposal is clear about who the target population is and how the project will provide a specific information to that target population.

Does the project’s target audience have to be at a national level or could it be targeted to a specific region or state?

Applicants are asked to specify their target audience in their proposal.

Will you consider applications with a focus on career pathways for youth and young adults k-12?

We will consider any applications we receive, so long as the underlying target population aligns with the goals of D4AD.

Is the expectation to use programmatic data with personally identifiable data or broad data from public sources?

There is no expectation. We are hoping to receive proposals that have innovative solutions to make career pathway and training opportunity data available to the target population.

What kinds of technical assistance is available through this initiative?

Schmidt Futures has developed a number of technical partners that can be made available to successful pilots. In the response to the RFP, applicants should identify the kinds of technical assistance that would be most helpful.

Do you welcome multiple project streams in one proposal if they are aligned to the various phases mentioned?

Will the grantees be convened for mutual learning?

Do all award funds need to go to data related costs, could we use some funds to build out a data system and some funds to develop programming that the data informs is needed? Can the funds be used to buy commercial data products?

In the budget, applicants should specify what funds will be used for. There is no requirement that funds be used exclusively for data-related costs.

Do you want (or accept) letters of support with the LOI?

We will accept letters of support. These will not count toward the three-page maximum and are not required.

Can you give us more information on the types of businesses you’d like us to partner with and to what degree?

We want partnerships to provide innovative ways to ultimately provide career pathway and training information to people who need it most. Effective partnerships will allow this to happen. This could include partnerships with organizations that can provide data, technical vendors, and organizations that can help reach the target population. This list is not comprehensive and are for example only.

As a “for profit” technology vendor, how can we get involved in this project and support the objectives of the pilot? Can you share contact info of for-profit parties without a partner, with not-for-profit entities, perhaps looking for additional partnerships?

We can make a list of interested technology vendors available on the website.

In partnering with a private vendor, do you have any concerns about the monetization of the potential work product?

It is conceivable that, in some cases, the sustainability plan includes monetization of the resulting product. The ultimate goal of the D4AD is to improve career prospects for low-income and underrepresented American workers. To that end, projects that try to sell a product to this audience may not be successful. However, it is conceivable that a business plan includes selling a product to employers, for example.

Do we need to know all partners we will be working with at the time of the application? Can we release an RFP after awarded funds to find the proper partner or service provider?

While we don’t require all partnerships to be finalized when the proposal is submitted, we will be looking for evidence that appropriate partnerships will feasibly be formed early on in the project period.

Should an evaluation component be included?

In the RFP, we ask applicants to identify benchmarks and goals. There will be a third-party evaluator across the projects.

For the applicants that receive D4AD awards how will you be tracking progress and evaluating deliverables and milestones of the projects?

Final evaluation plans will depend on the pilot projects that are selected. Applicants are asked to identify benchmarks, goals, and deliverables. A third-party evaluator will be brought in to conduct an evaluation of and across the projects.

What are the deliverables/outcomes that we will need to report on if awarded?

Deliverables should be identified in proposals. Successful proposals will identify deliverables that are aligned with the D4AD goals and are indicative of progress.

What outcome to you want for the under and underemployed? Jobs, training?

Each proposal should identify specific outcomes. The ultimate goal of the D4AD initiative is to provide better career prospect in a changing economy for low-income, underemployed, and unemployed Americans.

Do the results/outcomes of the proposal need to be public facing to be reachable by the target audience?

There is an expectation that the results of the project will be used for the public benefit.