ASU awarded Schmidt Futures Grant

April 24, 2018

A prominent Silicon Valley philanthropist has awarded Arizona State University a $1.5 million grant to find new pathways for restoring prosperity to the American middle class, reducing poverty and increasing national competitiveness.

ASU was selected as an inaugural partner for the Alliance for the American Dream, an initiative of Schmidt Futures, whose mission is to advance society through technology, inspire scientific breakthroughs and promote shared prosperity. Download Full Image

“Today, too many middle-class families find themselves at risk of falling into poverty, while too few see a path to build a brighter future for their children,” said Eric Schmidt, technical advisor to Alphabet, a member of its board of directors, and former executive chairman. “America needs a strong middle class; our future depends on it.”

Schmidt said he visited ASU’s Tempe campus last May and saw firsthand how the institution was committed to reimagining the role of universities in communities around the world.

“We look forward to seeing how Arizona State fuels an innovation engine to help distressed communities in Arizona and expand the middle class,” Schmidt said.

ASU’s participation in the Alliance for the American Dream reflects the university’s ongoing commitment to advance its charter and design aspirations.

“ASU assumes primary responsibility for the comprehensive well-being of the communities it serves, and we work to fulfill this pledge through collaborative innovation on all levels,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “We are enthusiastic about the mission of the Alliance for the American Dream, and excited to be a foundational member focused on creating new and novel pathways to the American Dream. We look forward to developing game-changing solutions that help to provide access and abundance for all.”

The Alliance for the American Dream maintains that the presence of a healthy and robust middle class makes it more likely that low-income individuals and households will successfully climb out of and remain out of poverty. Alliance members are tasked with cultivating at least 10 ideas to increase net income by 10 percent for 10,000 local middle-class households by 2020. Through the implementation of these ideas, beneficiaries will experience greater upward mobility toward an expanded middle class.

“At ASU, we will form teams of innovators advancing interdisciplinary approaches to improve the financial well-being of the middle class,” said Jacqueline Smith, associate vice president and executive director in ASU’s Office of University Initiatives. Smith said these innovators would include members of ASU’s academic community, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organization executives and local government leaders.

She added these ideas might range anywhere from healthcare to autonomous vehicles to food entrepreneurship to product innovation.

Other participants are expected to share insights and lessons learned with other members of the Alliance as well as to make relevant research available to one another.

Schmidt Futures may provide up to $4 million of additional funding toward the best ideas that emerge from the Alliance.

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU student receives Red Cross Youth Volunteer Award for outstanding service

April 24, 2018

Sophia Fasani was born prematurely, weighing in at 4 pounds and without a heartbeat.

Her mother had received more than 100 units of O-negative blood to sustain both of their lives during the pregnancy since she has Thalassemia Intermedia. ASU student and Red Cross volunteer Sophia Fasani ASU junior Sophia Fasani helped start a Red Cross Club at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix when she was a sophomore, and she has been in the ASU Red Cross Club since her freshman year. She has raised awareness about how to help the community through campus blood drives. Download Full Image

Fasani, now a junior at Arizona State University, says she and her mother owe their lives to the generosity of blood donors.

“Without the generous donations from donors, my mother and I might not be alive,’’ she said.

As a way to give back to the community, Fasani helped start a Red Cross Club at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix when she was a sophomore, and she helped organize Red Cross blood drives. She has been in the ASU Red Cross Club since her freshman year, and she has raised awareness about how to help the community through campus blood drives.

“Red Cross blood drives help the community meet the constant need for blood and allow me to give like previous donors gave to my mom and me,’’ said Fasani, who is co-president of the ASU American Red Cross Club.

In addition to blood drives, the ASU Red Cross Club holds disaster-relief fundraisers, marches in the Veterans Day Parade and assists during the “Sound the Alarm” campaign to install smoke detectors in low-income developments. The club also created a water carnival, “Wash Out Measles,’’ to raise money during the Measles and Rubella Initiative.

To honor Fasani’s outstanding volunteer work during the past five years, the American Red Cross Greater Phoenix Chapter is presenting her with the Youth Volunteer Award. She is among 11 Valley residents recognized at the Red Cross annual volunteer awards ceremony April 22 at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino.

Fasani, 20, is majoring in microbiology and aspires to be a physician.

“I think it is important that no matter what job I end up in, volunteering will remain a part of my life. I would encourage others to volunteer as a great way to make new friends and discover amazing ways that you can give back to our community,’’ Fasani said.

The Red Cross Greater Phoenix Chapter serves 4.3 million people across Maricopa, Pinal and Gila counties, as well as Luke Air Force Base. More than 500 adult and youth volunteers are trained to use their Red Cross skills to help save lives. Volunteers assist families during disasters including house fires, flooding and forest fires. Red Cross volunteers also train people in life-saving skills, water safety and fire safety. In addition, the Red Cross helps keep Arizona’s military families connected by relaying critical messages around the world.

For more information about volunteering, please call the Red Cross Greater Phoenix Chapter at 602-336-6660 or go to