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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Contemporary Social Problems Initiative

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OVCRGE will extend end dates on OVCRGE research related funding that has been affected by our current situation. We will also consider re-allocations from existing budget line item (e.g. travel) that are also affected. Please contact Russell Schwalbe ( or Jessica Wipperfurth ( to discuss your specific needs.


The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE) oversees an initiative to support two-year grants for research with implications for tackling contemporary social problems in order to promote economic prosperity, enhance social and psychological well-being and improve health outcomes in the United States.

This program, the Contemporary Social Problems Initiative, is intended to broadly complement the goals of the campus-wide Alliance for the American Dream: Dream Up Wisconsin initiative, which is led by the Institute for Research on Poverty, funded by Schmidt Futures and seeks to improve economic security, and expand, strengthen, and stabilize the American middle-class. This OVCRGE initiative is backed by funding provided by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

Key research themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Income and wealth distribution; labor market dynamics; determinants and facilitators of economic prosperity and stability; and the causes, characteristics, and consequences of income inequality.
  • Policies and programs to promote economic prosperity, social and psychological well-being and health through education, training, and human capital development throughout the life course.
  • Innovative use of technology to promote economic security, social and psychological well-being and healthy lifestyles.
  • The role of the private sector, including entrepreneurship, in promoting shared economic prosperity
  • Policies and programs to promote socially and economically stable families and child well-being

2019-20 Projects