The $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge

Together, we will drive $10,000 in annual wage increases for at least 100,000 low- and middle-income US workers by 2021.


The $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge is a moonshot to address wage stagnation.

Our goal is to help fuel a movement that results in meaningful wage gains for workers across the country. Much like the concept of a $1 billion “unicorn” startup in Silicon Valley, this is a $1 billion unicorn to grow the middle class. We’ll encourage the workforce field to explore innovative approaches and call on players from other fields to address this challenge.

This challenge focuses on one tangible metric: raising the annual wages of at least 100,000 US workers by $10,000 or more by 2021. In doing so, we intend to identify, spotlight, and accelerate effective and promising ways to meaningfully increase annual incomes and expand the middle class.

Over 90 ideas were submitted. After review by thought leaders and subject matter experts, including JFF leadership, we selected seven finalists. These finalists presented their ideas in San Diego on April 8 at ASU GSV X Summit, a preeminent, international conference focused on education, workforce, and technology. The event served as a platform for finalists to get the exposure and traction needed to truly address the challenge of creating shared prosperity. The event included live presentations, judging, and winner selection.

The competition is supported by Schmidt Futures and was complementary and connected to its efforts in the Alliance for the American Dream. Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative, founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, that bets early on people who will make our world better — helping people to achieve more for others by applying advanced science and technology thoughtfully and by working together across fields.


About the Winners

Press Release | Cell-Ed Works and EMPath Selected as JFF’s $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge Winners at ASU GSV Summit


Watch the Finalist Pitches


The challenge was based on the belief that wage gains are a linchpin to America’s long-term economic strength. Reversing wage stagnation is the domestic moonshot of our generation.

Maria Flynn, president and CEO of JFF