Getting in the Arena: Digital Divide, Then and Now

Throughout our 20th year, we will be focusing not only on those heeding our call to the “Get In The Arena” in 2017, but also on how important we have found this principle in all the work the Case Foundation has led throughout its history. And no initiative is more emblematic of this than our work to close the digital divide.

But to bring this lesson to life, we have to go back more than 20 years…

It was the 1990’s. Late one afternoon I sat in my office at America Online and waited while my assistant transferred the call. It was another teacher on the line and I knew why she was calling. I had been receiving a growing number of calls and letters from parents and teachers around the country who mostly shared the same tale: they were deeply concerned about the growing digital divide among neighborhoods and classrooms that left some children advantaged, while others were being left behind. Teachers would point out that some kids in class were using the Internet extensively to prepare papers or augment their classroom learning, often turning in professional-looking reports and homework that had been crafted with best-in-class technology in their homes, while others students were still struggling with the literal “old school” preparation—handwriting, limited resource material to reference, no fancy charts or pictures for their reports. “It’s not fair,” the teacher would plead. “Can’t AOL do something to help these students and families that don’t have access?”

The world has changed a lot since then and, even if you are old enough to remember that period, it is hard to remember what life was like in the 1990’s as the Internet began to explode on the scene. We had introduced America Online to world in late 1989 and then in 1992, it became legal to connect to the Internet—then better known as the World Wide Web—which had previously been accessible only to those in government or academia. We had seen firsthand the divide this teacher was so concerned about and we shared that concern. We set out to engage in a number of initiatives at AOL, including “Net Day” in 1995, designed to wire our nation’s schools to expand access.

But it wasn’t until after I left AOL and co-founded The Case Foundation with my husband, Steve Case, that we finally arrived at what we believed was a big idea—to break down the barriers to access by bringing internet access to key underserved communities.

Not surprisingly, one of the Case Foundation’s first major initiatives was PowerUp, an alliance formed alongside many in the tech industry to create and equip 1000 after school technology centers in low income urban neighborhoods, rural communities and even Indian Reservations. The effort really targeted those we knew had been left out of the tech boom. The Case Foundation provided an initial grant of $10 million to establish PowerUp with half of the grant covering all staff and administrative costs for the program and the other $5 million in the form of direct grants to the community and school based organizations that were the key to the effort’s success. In the end, PowerUp—working not only with the Case Foundation but also with AOL, Cisco Systems, HP, the Waitt Family Foundation and partners like the Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, National Urban League and America’s Promise—equipped 957 technology centers covering all 50 states. The collaboration among these many different groups ensured that PowerUp was able to pull the right tools together to meet the unique needs of each community and that each partner—from the community organization to the tech giant—played to their strengths.

And the effort touched millions of lives. 75 percent of the students involved did not have a computer at home, 82 percent of the children who participated were youth-of-color. In the end, this collaborative helped break down the barriers of access and created safe learning spaces where many of the centers reported the children were not only succeeding, but were also bringing their parents in so they could also learn the computer skills they needed to compete and succeed.

This work, along with the work of many others, helped close the digital divide. Almost nine-in-ten American adults now use the internet, with near-saturation usage among those living in households earning $75,000 or more (98 percent), young adults ages 18-29 (99 percent), and those with college degrees (98 percent).

Our work at PowerUp showed we could make a real impact. And we are very proud of the extraordinary inroads that have been made since we kicked off this effort in 1999 as it shows the power of what citizens, institutions and companies can do when they make a big bet, use entrepreneurial approaches and collaborate together to achieve a goal.

While we made great progress, we never forget that the picture is not perfect as disparities remain. Today, internet usage in rural communities lags significantly behind suburban and urban communities (81 percent compared to 90 percent and 89 percent, respectively) and elderly and lower income citizens have less access to the internet than others—with only 64 percent of those over 65 and 79 percent of those earning less than $30,000 a year using the internet according research conducted in 2016 by the Pew Research Center.  And internet speeds in over 25 percent of the country lag so drastically that multiple students in these mostly rural communities cannot be online at the same time in some classrooms and people congregate outside libraries and stores that have high speed connections in scenes similar to what one sees in Cuba.

But today’s more significant divide can be seen in developing countries.  Just last year, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), estimated that 53 percent of the world’s population—3.9 billion people—were not using the Internet, with almost 75 percent of the people of Africa not online. The ITU’s 2016 report goes on to state: “In Asia and the Pacific and the Arab States, the percentage of the population that is not using the Internet is very similar: 58.1 and 58.4 percent, respectively.” In our ever more interconnected world, these statistics show over half the world’s population is unable to take advantage of the information and opportunities we consider commonplace.

And, while this data is concerning, I am heartened by all the new players who are now applying many of the strategies we deployed in the United States to close the digital divide in the developing world. As I mentioned in my examination of the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit, the role the private sector is playing to increase accessibility in frontier markets is impressive.

A great example of this can be seen in the work that Vint Cerf described at SXSW earlier this month. Cerf played a key role in developing the early internet while at the Department of Defense, but he is now the chief internet evangelist at Google and co-founder of the People Centered Internet. He uses his leadership role to engage corporations and public entities to collaborate more effectively to bring connectivity to more people. For example, Cerf is pushing the World Bank to make Internet development a key part of their global infrastructure development efforts. This would not only increase investment in internet infrastructure in underserved regions, but also ensure that when a World Bank funded infrastructure or agriculture project is built, fiber optic cabling and internet accessibility are incorporated in the plan. When combined with his role at Google, where they are experimenting with innovative ways to deliver connectivity such as floating specialized balloons at 60,000 feet to deliver wireless Internet in areas where infrastructure development is less feasible, Cerf has turned from being an inventor of the World Wide Web to a convener of multiple companies, institutions and technologies to expand access to those who have been overlooked.

And there are examples all over the world of unlikely pairings coming together to bridge the digital divide, from non-profits, the government and companies like Cisco working together in Mexico, to the Indian government’s commitment to increase mobile usage nationwide to the work being done in multiple countries across the continent of Africa. Also just as exciting are new innovators that are using new models to overcome traditional barriers, like Jana, a mobile advertising company that provides free Internet access and apps in return for viewers watching advertisements. They now have over 1,000 apps and serve millions of users in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

We have come a long way in the last 20 years. And the lessons we learned in shrinking the digital divide in the United States can provide useful insights to those tackling these challenges in developing regions like Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. To move the needle, we will need a diverse group of actors to Get In The Arena and for industry, government, NGOs, Philanthropy and citizens to collaborate in ways that may initially make some uncomfortable. We have already seen signs that this is happening and will continue to call for even more players to #GetInTheArena and help play a role in addressing the final frontiers of the digital divide.

A Message From SXSW: The Undiscovered Next Big Thing

For many years, SXSW has been the place to go to see the new thing, the new product, the new trend. Market leading products like Twitter took off when they launched at the annual Austin conference and hit shows like Game of Thrones and stars like Jay Z have flocked to Austin to join in the fun and be associated with the newest trends.

Each year as I head to SXSW, I can’t help but wonder what the “next big thing” might be that will have the conference abuzz. This year, it wasn’t a product and it wasn’t a personality. Instead, it was a powerful idea: double down on the secret sauce that has made America great by expanding the pool of entrepreneurs who are building great companies and bringing new innovations. And while the idea itself may seem simple, the potential for transformative impact is extraordinary. And for any investor, this idea represents a potential new source of innovation, talent and access to untapped markets.

This was my message and the message of the Case Foundation as we went to SXSW, but we didn’t expect to find similar sentiments echoing from the SXSW stage throughout the conference, in hallway conversations and at cocktail parties. And it was the central message in my fireside chat with Reena Ninan of CBS News. Like any “hot” issue, there is usually some arresting set of facts that serves to ignite passions. In this case, the data is so stark that it provides a great entrée for the topic more broadly. Consider this data on the state of venture capital investing in the United States:

At the same time, women owned firms are growing 5 times faster than the national average. And a growing body of data reports that both women-run firms and firms with diverse teams, outperform their counterparts. First Round Capital, for instance, reported when it separated out performance in its portfolio of companies, it found that female-led firms outperformed their counterparts by 60%. Traditional investing is starting to realize that perhaps diversifying leadership is a business imperative to boost performance, with the point driven home most clearly from State Street Global Advisors, with trillions of dollars of assets under management, State Street placed a bronze statue of a young girl staring down Wall Street’s bull, and matched it with a message that they will use their proxy power if needed to ensure those firms in their portfolio diversify leadership. Sure, investing in more women and people of color is a social justice issue, but it is also a powerful economic opportunity for investors and for our nation.

This was the topic of a Ted Talk I gave a few months ago and it was great to see the SXSW attendees engage so eagerly on this subject—from world-class investors looking for paths to these untapped segments, to reporters hearing from more diverse voices and perspectives on the panels they led, to entrepreneurs from these segments asking how they can find the funders who get this and are willing to listen to good ideas, no matter the gender, color of skin or geography.

And I was not alone at SXSW in talking about these issues.

  • Beth Comstock, Vice Chair of GE, spoke eloquently about the efforts GE was taking to look for great ideas in more diverse places and how they were building more flexible workplace rules so all could succeed at GE.
  • Aspect Ventures founding partner Theresia Gouw, BBG Ventures President and managing partner Susan Lyne, and Joyus founder/CEO and angel investor Sukhinder Singh Cassidy joined Fortune senior editor Kristen Bellstrom on a panel on Monday to talk about the lack of diversity in VC funding for women and share suggestions about steps to take to change the status quo.
  • Dan Lyons, a tech journalist, former Silicon Valley screenwriter and author of the New York Times best-seller, “Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Startup Bubble” spoke in his SXSW panel about how “bro culture” and bias were holding back the industry and how we had to change the way they thought about hiring and promoting to ensure our most actively funded companies did not become too insular.
  • And Case Foundation chairman (and my husband), Steve Case, talked about the “Rise of the Rest” initiative that he runs separately from the Foundation, spotlighting and funding entrepreneurs across America, from places between the coasts that investors often ignore, but where the vast majority of our Fortune 500 companies in America were started.

And the programing and general conversation around SXSW supported this yearning for more leadership and support for a wider community of innovators. At the National Geographic venue on 6th street, National Geographic Explorers who came from non-traditional backgrounds were greeted by thousands of SXSW attendees. These included Albert Yu-Min Lin, who spoke about maintaining his passion for exploration after losing a limb, and how those in the field have the responsibility to tell the stories and make a difference. David Lang, who is designing and building underwater robots that are being used by citizens to explore oceans, rivers and lakes in ways that have never been accessible to non-academic and government officials; and Erika Bergman, who leads Google Hangouts as she pilots her submarine so all can get the chance to see the discoveries she is making thousands of feet underwater. All of these Explorers leveraged their unique backgrounds and passions to explore in ways that were outside the norm, bringing new perspectives to their work and opening doors to citizen science that had previously been closed.

Finally, this call for a wider pool of innovators was echoed by Vice President Biden as he made an impassioned plea at SXSW to support cancer research. He called on SXSW attendees to use their diverse skills and backgrounds to participate in cancer research, trials and to lend their minds and access to improve detection, prevention and treatment of cancer. In calling on more innovative thinking and engaging more diverse participants, Vice President Biden said “If we did nothing more than break down the silos preventing greater collaboration because of the way the system has been built up—not intentionally—over the last 50 years, we can extend the life of a lot of people with cancer.”

While SXSW is often known for opening our eyes to new products, this year’s SXSW was a venue where the message was clear: the next undiscovered big thing is people and the innovations that those not traditionally in the mainstream can bring to the table. Frankly, it was a breath of fresh air and we, at the Case Foundation, stand ready to keep the momentum started at SXSW going so we can see real change in the faces and ideas of the innovators who power the next generation of ideas.

Getting In the Arena: The Entrepreneurial Spirit

As we announced in January, the Case Foundation is committing its 20th Anniversary year to calling on all to “Get In The Arena.” And, while most of our efforts focus on how each and every one of us can take action on the issues and challenges that matter the most to us in 2017, we also are highlighting lessons we have learned from Getting in the Arena over the past two decades.  Our hope is future endeavors of others are informed by the sharing of past learnings.

It should come as no surprise that among the most important lessons we’ve learned is the power of the entrepreneurial spirit in driving innovation and impact across the social sector.

Of course, the entrepreneurial spirit has been central to the American Experience since our earliest days as a young nation. In his book Empire on the Edge, Nick Bunker writes the following on the founding of America: “It was always eccentric, the British Empire on the mainland of America. From the time of Jamestown and the Mayflower, almost every colony came into being by means of private enterprise. They were small, experimental ventures in search of profit, in search of God. Each one was a painful exercise in trial and error, with seldom a firm guiding hand from London.”  In other words, America was born of the entrepreneurial spirit.  And it is a common belief even today, that this has been the secret sauce that has powered our economy, built innovations to improve lives and forged new political and cultural systems and frameworks that have enabled the American people to thrive in what has become the longest-established democracy in the history of the world.

Too often, the entrepreneurial spirit is perceived to be of relevance exclusively in the business sector.  And yet, as my own career has taken me from the public sector, to a career in technology in the private sector, to my current roles in the philanthropic/nonprofit sector as CEO of the Case Foundation and Chairman of the National Geographic Society, I have come to recognize the critical importance of entrepreneurial approaches across all sectors.  Indeed, given that these sectors outside of business are usually focused on the human condition or more broadly on the needs of our planet, the challenges they face can be daunting. Perhaps there is no greater need for fresh approaches, risk taking and an eye toward innovation than in those sectors.

And, over the past 20 years, we have seen the entrepreneurial spirit thrive in non-traditional settings — across sectors, across our nation and around the globe. For example:

Launching Challenge.gov: Working with the White House as our partner, we co-hosted the White House Summit on Innovation that brought together 35 U.S. government agencies using contests and grand challenges to tap “the wisdom of the crowds” across the nation in finding solutions to major challenges faced by government agencies. We partnered with experts in prizes and challenges, such as the X-Prize, and used the Summit as training ground to encourage agencies to put forth challenges to drive innovation.  Some of our favorite outcomes of this work include:

An enduring outcome of this work is Challenge.gov, a site that anyone can access to find out what contests and challenges are active.  Since its launch in 2010, 740 challenges have been run on Challenge.gov, eliciting entries from 250,000+ citizens from all 50 states and a number of foreign countries. By challenging the status quo, leveraging the creativity and innovation of new audiences and tapping the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people, the U.S. government’s work was improved at a much lower than expected cost and more citizens than ever have been engaged.

Connecting frontier communities in Africa: Internet connectivity remains a major challenge throughout Africa. Yet companies like Facebook, Google and startups like BRCK* have developed non-traditional solutions to connect schools and villages that are on the edge, and past, the traditional internet and electric infrastructure. Overcoming the traditional mindset that pipes must be built and that wires must be strung to deliver access, and working around many of the government procurement barriers that have stunted growth in the past, BRCK has developed a connectivity device that can jump from Ethernet, to WiFi, to 3G seamlessly with an 8-hour battery life when the power is out.  This is why, a recent article in Forbes referred to BRCK’s innovation as a “clever confluence of technology and entrepreneurial spirit.” To overcome the connectivity problems, Facebook announced plans to lay over 500 miles of fiber cable in Uganda this year and has even experimented with drones to provide internet access to remote locations. And Google is stringing over 1,000 kilometers of fiber cable in two of Ghana’s largest cities to serve the growing number of internet provider companies in these cities. Thanks to private sector actors like Facebook, BRCK and Google, internet access can be found in hospitals, community centers, libraries, barbershops, even on buses, where it was never available before. These entrepreneurs have solved a long-standing problem by embracing the entrepreneurial spirit.

Democratizing access to information: In the past, access to complex data was often restricted to those in government or at major research universities. These restrictions were not based on national security needs, but by historical tendencies and entrenched interests. Today, across many platforms, we are seeing visionaries, using open source and crowd sourcing models to leverage wider communities to advance science, innovation and exploration.  For example, Sarah Parcak, an associate professor of Anthropology and director of the Laboratory for Global Observation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has broken down the wall between academia and citizens, by sharing infra-red satellite imaging from commercial and NASA satellites with citizens so they can help identify potential archeological sites for further exploration. Her work in places like Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula has been groundbreaking, but her commitment to locating and protecting hundreds of thousands — even millions — of still undiscovered ancient sites that remain buried all over the world pushes the impact of her work to the next level.

Sarah’s launch of GlobalXplorer.org on January 30 embodies the entrepreneurial spirit in non-traditional areas that is so inspiring to us. This unique platform enlists a global community and enables anyone with an internet connection to discover the next hidden burial site or community using satellite technology. The platform uses satellite imagery provided by DigitalGlobe, and highlights content from National Geographic and taps the public’s time, brainpower and inquisitive nature, to map Peru in search of archeological sites hidden due to modern human activity.

And Sarah is not the only explorer and innovator working this way. We see numerous examples in the open source world where entrepreneurs and innovators are creating new and innovative platforms that are improved and updated by the wider community.

This isn’t a new idea. Every major advancement or breakthrough across society came from someone trying something that seemed a little crazy.  Long before President Kennedy ushered in an era of entrepreneurial efforts to get us first to the moon and then beyond, major leaps benefiting mankind had been the result of someone, somewhere making a commitment to #GetInTheArena with new ideas for solving old, daunting problems.  In fact, the Challenge.gov website proudly notes that similar challenges aided Charles Lindbergh’s famous transatlantic flight and the design for the U.S. Capitol building. Risk taking, a sense of urgency, a willingness to fail and a dogged perseverance are part of the formula that has defined the entrepreneurial spirit and brought us breakthroughs.  From where we sit, we are encouraged by the growing recognition and application of these tenets across the social sector, and around the world, and believe it bodes well for the future of innovation.

 

*Disclosure: Jean and Steve Case are investors in BRCK.

Making The Most of Your Time At SXSW: 20 Can’t Miss SXSW Sessions

The Case Foundation is heading to SXSW this month for five days of Interactive programming and events. While there, we will certainly dine on breakfast tacos and good ole’ Texas barbecue, but most importantly we will participate in and host a series of engaging can’t miss SXSW sessions and activations onsite designed to turn interest in to action.

In particular, the Case Foundation is excited to interact with SXSW participants at one of our sessions featuring our own Jean Case, Steve Case, Emily Yu, Sarah Koch as well as to debut our first-ever #GetInTheArena Lounge, in partnership with Oculus (at the JW Marriott from March 11th to March 15th). There, we invite you to “Get In The Arena” and share how you will turn intention into action on the causes you care about, learn about the future of social good and hear more about the important work the Foundation is leading throughout the year. A few highlights:

  • Record a short film in our 360-degree video OrcaVue that will capture your very own “Get in the Arena” video moment;
  • Check out the virtual reality videos courtesy of Oculus for Good;
  • Donate to a charity of your choice with GoodWorld as they bring the #donate phenomenon to attendees live on site;
  • Demo our soon-to-be-released Impact Investing Network Map;
  • Test your knowledge of the inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem;
  • Share what you are going to do to “Get in the Arena” in 2017.

Veterans of SXSW will tell you there are countless sessions and meet-ups on just about every issue you care about—from ocean exploration, to inclusive entrepreneurship, to tech for good platforms that are changing the way we champion causes. To make the best use of your time at SXSW, here are 20 sessions that we think you shouldn’t miss:

MARCH 10th


1. The Rise of Academic Incubators
11:00am – 12:00pm
Hotel Van Zand, Lady Bird Ballroom

Join Texas A&M, Harvard University and more as they share how universities are responding with pathways, such as curriculum enhancements, mentorship programs, and physical incubator space, to facilitate connections to students, potential investors and industry leaders

2. Funding Our Future: Investing in Diverse Startups 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Hilton Room 400-402

Valmo Ventures, Base Ventures and Connectivity Capital Partners share why the growing trend of more tech startups being founded by Women, Latino, Black and Asian founders, greater investment in these ventures is needed to ensure the innovation and economic growth across all communities that these founders represent as the global population becomes more diverse.

3. Convergence Keynote Photographer Cory Richards 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 pm
Convention Center Ballroom D

A climber and visual storyteller, Richards was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year (2012) and a National Geographic Fellow (2015). His photography has appeared in National Geographic Magazine, Outside Magazine, Man of the World, and The New York Times.

MARCH 11th


4. Navigating a Rapidly Changing and Connected World Steve Case and Beth Comstock 9:30am – 10:30am
Convention Center Ballroom EFG

Sensors that track a food’s temperature from source to store. Hospitals designed to avoid misdiagnosis. Traffic lights that actually respond to traffic. These are the changes we are likely to witness in the Third Wave: a period in which entrepreneurs will use technology to revolutionize major sectors—healthcare, manufacturing, education and food—and transform the way we live. Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and CEO of Revolution and Chairman of the Case Foundation, and Beth Comstock, Vice Chairman at GE, discuss how to adapt to the changes coming our way.

5. Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship with Jean Case 11:00am – 12:00pm
Hilton Salon C

Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. Tech pioneer and investor Jean Case explores the journey of fearless entrepreneurs who are changing the way business is done. She sits down with Reena Ninan of CBS News to discover the wide range of dynamic pioneering founders who are closing the opportunity gap and scaling creative solutions to persistent global problems. Challenge the traditional notions that entrepreneurs are exclusively wealthy, Ivy League educated white men in this conversation on how a new breed of entrepreneurs from all walks of life are fueling economic growth and shattering the status quo.

6. How Elections Change Next Gen Cause Engagement 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Hilton Salon F

Fact: Millennials value cause engagement. But what happens during an election year? Could politics influence how this generation participates in social causes? Achieve, in partnership with the Case Foundation, conducted a multi-stage research study on the millennial generation’s cause engagement as related to their political ideologies. The study measured how the 2016 U.S. presidential election affected how Millennials across the country engaged with social causes. The final 2016 Millennial Impact Report identified what, if any, demographic factors are connected to engagement trends. The final report will be debuted exclusively at SXSW and reveal key shifts that will alter how we think about this generation of changemakers. Speakers include Emily Yu of the Case Foundation, Abby Philip of the Washington Post, Carolyn DeWitt of Rock the Vote and Amy Thayer of Achieve.

7. Payments Gone Viral: The Rise of Social Commerce 3:30pm – 4:30pm
JW Marriot Salon D

Augmented reality. Hashtag payments. Messenger bots. The payments space is fundamentally changing: cash and checks gave way to credit and debit cards, which are now being replaced by apps. In an era where social proof reigns supreme, how is social media shaping the future of commerce. Meet a diverse cross-section of companies pioneering social payments: the ability to buy, pay and give on social media. Moderated by finance veteran Hans Morris (Visa, Citigroup, Nyca Partners), this session shows how the latest technologies enable people to pay where they play. Speakers include Dale Nirvani Pfeifer of GoodWorld, Kahina Van Dyke of Faecbook, Hans Morris of Nyca Partners and Ambarish Mitra of Blippar.

8. Harlem: The New Tech Frontier 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Hilton Salon E

Join Jessica O. Matthews of Uncharted Play as she explores how the startup is democratizing energy access worldwide, and changing the face of innovation. With its core technology MORE, (Motion-Based, Off-Grid, Renewable Energy) – a scalable system of micro-generators that can sustainably power cities – the company is eyeing infrastructure opportunities in emerging markets.

MARCH 12th 


9. Keynote with Lee Daniels
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Convention Center room 18ABCD

Lee Daniels is a widely recognized director, writer, producer, and philanthropist in both the film and television space. He is perhaps best known for the 2013 critically acclaimed box office smash Lee Daniels’ The Butler, in addition to his 2009 feature Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire, which was nominated for six Academy Awards including “Best Motion Picture of the Year” and “Best Achievement in Directing.” The film also made history as Daniels became the first African-American to be nominated for the DGA’s Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film Award.

10. Humanitarian Design In Action 11:00am – 2:00pm
Hilton Salon D

In recent years, universities across the country have been increasingly engaging with the entrepreneurial ecosystem, developing programming internally to cultivate entrepreneurial activities and working to bring entrepreneurs into the university. Join MIT, Rice Univesity, StartX and the University of Chicago as they explore what bridges are currently being built to facilitate flows of information and people between universities and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

11. Tech for Good: Solutions for the Refugee Crisis 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Westin Continental 2

When lives are at stake, it can be difficult to figure out how we can make a real difference. The Humanitarian Design Summit with Google, Facebook and Crack + Cider is about meeting the people who are using everyday design practices to prevent suffering and save lives. This workshop will task participants with rapidly designing responses to a real world crisis scenario. The goal isn’t to solve a difficult humanitarian problem, instead it’s an opportunity to test out the principles of Humanitarian Design in a risk-free environment with world-class designers.

* This session requires RSVP, and access will only be available to badge types listed under “Primary Access.” RSVP HERE.

MARCH 13th


12. How Tech Companies Can Give Back to Communities
12:30pm – 1:30pm
JW Marriot Salon D

Join Andrew Keen, Elaine Weidman-Grunewalk from Ericsson, Gary Shapiro of Consumer Technology Association and John Donovan from AT&T as they explore game-changing technologies and disruptive innovations and the sharing economy bring the power to improve our lives and what are the best practices that allow “Technology for Good” to authentically come into play with both the bottom line and corporate responsibility and community engagement.

13. Turning Inspiration Into Action on Instagram 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Hyatt Regency Ballroom 1

With over 600 million users, Instagram is the 2nd largest platform behind Facebook. From curated content to real life moments, Instagram is a place for inspiration and discovery. But how can marketers move inspiration and discovery to action? In this session, Instagram’s Michael Hondorp, the retail lead for the brand, will discuss the most innovative ways brands are driving impact with Instagram. From using ad formats in unexpected ways, to developing ideas customized for the feed, attendees will leave inspired to think differently about creating for the platform.

14. Interactive Keynote: Adam Grant 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Convention Center Ballroom D

Wharton’s top-rated professor, a New York Times writer on work and psychology, and author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Rule the World and Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. Grant has been recognized as one of the world’s 25 most influential management thinkers, and Fortune’s 40 under 40.

15. Kimbal Musk on Trust: The Currency of Our Generation 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Convention Center Ballroom EFG

Musk sits down with Fast Company magazine’s Amy Farley exploring the ability of consumers to uncover truth and authenticity in seconds with the help of the Internet is creating incredible opportunities in the food industry. As cofounder of The Kitchen, a family of businesses working in tandem to bring #realfood to everyone, he will discuss how farmers, consumers, and companies are demanding and delivering trust back to the table.

MARCH 14th


16. Investing to Change The World
9:30am – 10:30am
Convention Center Ballroom EFG

This panel will offer practical and powerful solutions for people who want to generate positive impact on society through their investments. Join Ben Jealous and Karina Funk of Kapor Capital, with Dune Thorne from the Brown Advisory and Victoria Fram of Village Capital as they explore the forefront of impact investing and will explore opportunities that range from green bonds to public equities to private equity investments. You can generate profits AND progress by investing in companies with cutting-edge environmental strategies, in bonds that fund clean energy or support low-income communities, and in innovative private investments that seek to drive social change.

17. National Geographic Explorers Changing the World 11:00am – 12:00pm
JW Marriott Room 203-204

National Geographic pushes the boundaries of exploration to further our understanding of the planet and empower us all to generate solutions for a healthier and more sustainable future. Meet the Emerging Explorers—fearless young scientists, conservationists, storytellers, and innovators who are harnessing technology to expand the frontiers of exploration. Join a discussion about taking risks, being bold and failing forward to change the world through technology for good with National Geographic Explorers Topher White and Erika Bergman and CEO Gary Knell.

18. How to Fundraise Without Silicon Valley 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Hilton Salon C

We are witnessing a new wave of investment and entrepreneurship in the United States. How can we level the playing field for women-entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color to fund, grow and scale their thriving businesses? Learn both investor and entrepreneur perspectives on what it takes to build and back inspiring companies and bring the deal process to life for diverse founders. Join Earl Robinson of Consequent Capital, Sarah Koch of the Case Foundation, Nicole Sanchez of eCreditHero and Carolyn Rodz of Circular Board for this engaging discussion.

MARCH 15th


19. Nonprofits Get the Keys to the VR Kingdom
12:30pm – 1:30pm
JW Marriot Salon 3-4

Virtual Reality has been touted as the ultimate empathy engine, immersing viewers in experiences that can open their eyes and create personalized memories for important causes. To widen the reach of this unique immersive technology to deserving nonprofits, Oculus has created the “VR for Good” workshop that pairs budding filmmakers with veteran VR talent to craft powerful storytelling pieces for a variety of featured charities and causes. Participants in the inaugural launch of this program will discuss their process in collaborating with these nonprofits and how the program combats the pitfalls that worthy causes often face with innovative marketing approaches.

20. How Brands Do Well By Doing Good 3:30pm – 4:30pm
JW Marriot Salon D

Cynics believe a marketer’s biggest goal is to get a consumer to click on an ad and purchase a product. This is especially true when it comes to digital advertising, which is immediately measurable, both in its success and failure. That’s what we call short-term thinking. The best brands think about themselves—and their stories—in the long term. They consider how to connect with consumers in a way that feels authentic, and that communicates something about what the brand stands for, something that goes far beyond whichever product they’re currently peddling. Upworthy presents the brands that do well by doing good.

Have a session or event that the team shouldn’t miss? Tweet us @CaseFoundation. We look forward to seeing you there!

Charitable Giving 3.0: Tech is Changing the Way We Give and Give Back

We have long been enthusiastic champions of democratizing philanthropy at the Case Foundation. In the same way that technology has leveled the playing field to allow all voices to be heard, we believe technology has proven its potential to empower anyone to become a philanthropist. Indeed, as the nation sets its sights on another #GivingTuesday, it is important to remember that online giving was just a nascent movement not that long ago.

Our early work in experimentation with social media platforms included America’s Giving Challenge (AGC), dating back to nearly a decade ago. At the time, we were concerned that both donors and nonprofits weren’t fully prepared for the potential of the brand new world of social media, and we knew we needed a bold step to move people toward the online tools we knew could transform the future of online giving.

AGC called on citizens everywhere to use emerging social media platforms to get engaged and give to causes they cared about. Incentives were established to encourage the greatest number of donations, not necessarily the largest, and donations of all sizes were welcomed. As part of the campaign, our “Gear Up for Giving” helped train thousands of individuals and nonprofits so that they could best leverage social media to reach their networks. We also invited people everywhere to be champions for their own causes, instead of curating a list that were our favorites.

Back then, online philanthropic competitions of this kind were relatively unheard of, and I’ll admit that we weren’t sure what to expect at first. There were so many unknowns. Would the big organizations dwarf the little guys? How would social media be activated to spread the word and reach new audiences? Would organizations be nimble enough to effectively mobilize their networks? To our surprise it was the small organizations that had the most success, and taken together, microdonations from across the nation represented significant sums for the winning causes.

Along with partners like Causes on Facebook, PARADE Magazine, Network for Good, and GlobalGiving, over the course of these two Giving Challenges we were able to mobilize nearly 200,000 people and nearly $4 million was raised for thousands of causes. Both Challenges were effective in helping the nonprofit sector become more skilled in its use of social media and they inspired other corporations and foundations to launch similar online contests. Following this work, the Case Foundation published findings and lessons learned, and worked closely with follow-on campaigns such as the Pepsi Challenge and days of giving that were popping up across the nation.

Ever since those early pioneering efforts, we have remained captivated by the idea that emerging technologies and tools can be leveraged to democratize philanthropy and provide new significance to the individual donor.

Over the years, both through the Case Foundation and through individual investments, we have encouraged “good” giving and have supported different ways to leverage technology to drive a social mission—including the very first DC Give to the Max Day, Causes on Facebook, Network for Good and MissionFish. Combined, Causes, Network for Good, and MissionFish alone represent more than $2 billion in crowdsourced contributions to the nonprofit sector.

These early online platforms and technologies provided a new way to increase opportunities to give by uniting people around causes that were close to their hearts and deepening their civic engagement. This was game-changing and has led to many innovations that have changed the way we give and give back.

In a few short years, online platforms like Network for GoodCrowdriseIndiegogoRazoo, Classy, and GlobalGiving have gained in popularity and have been instrumental in raising billions of dollars. Through these platforms and others like them, individuals could fund all kinds of inspiring causes and needs and, perhaps most importantly, catalyze civic action one donor at a time.

This is why we were intrigued to answer the question, “what’s next in online giving?”

At its Social Good Forum just a couple weeks ago, Facebook announced that users can now build their own fundraising pages that link the donate button to Facebook Live videos. Imagine being able to show, via live stream, your support for a cause while viewers donate in real time. The possibilities seem almost limitless. What’s nearly as exciting to us is that Facebook collaborated with our longstanding partner, Network for Good, to make this happen. It stands to reason that we will soon see fundraising on other social media platforms like Snapchat, which recently introduced Snapcash, and Twitter, which already allows for direct payments using $Cashtags.

And there may be no better example of the growing and transformative power of social media and the spirit of collaboration in philanthropy than #GivingTuesday. In 2015 alone 698,961 online donors raised $116.7m on #GivingTuesday, and #GivingTuesday continues to grow in size with a 52 percent year-over-year increase in online donations.

We’ve had the pleasure of being involved with #GivingTuesday from when it was just a concept being formulated by our friends at 92 Street Y and the United Nations Foundation. Since its inaugural year in 2012, we have been vocal supporters of the #GivingTuesday movement because it reflects our long-held belief in the importance of collective action.

While many look towards foundations, corporations and the government for resources, they often forget that 72 percent of giving in this country comes from individuals—and, if we’re ever going to see tipping points in addressing chronic and significant social problems it will require mobilization of the masses.

The good news is that online giving grew 9.2 percent in 2015 compared to 2014—we are seeing growing momentum in the mobilization of online donors. But I believe we have only scratched the surface. Just 7.1 percent of overall fundraising dollars are raised online. And when looking at the next generation of 80 million Millennials, we know that they primarily use digital technology such as websites, social media and mobile platforms to access information about and donate to causes and nonprofits, and that each platform plays a distinct role. And while giving offline will likely remain an important way to give for some time to come, we also must continue to leverage new technologies and data to make the process of giving even more convenient and rewarding.

If the past is any indication, we have an extraordinary opportunity ahead of us to further connect the passion of individuals ready to make a difference with new platforms, technologies and innovations that can help them do just that. This #GivingTuesday, each and every one of us has the opportunity to donate to the causes that matter most to us. Our hope is that the democratization of giving will be further strengthened in the days ahead and our communities made stronger as a result.

SXSW 2017 PanelPicker – Vote Today

Every year the Case Foundation and our partners submit innovative and compelling panel ideas for consideration to be included at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW). Last year, we were excited to host or be a part of 12 amazing sessions at SXSW, ranging from inclusive entrepreneurship to online movement building through hashtags. All included incredible speakers, invaluable lessons and memorable quotes to walk away with.

This year, we’ve submitted 11 fantastic panel ideas for the SXSW PanelPicker process, and we need your help to vote to get them to SXSW 2017. Below are descriptions of each panel, along with the link that takes you directly to the page to vote for that session, and a tweet for you to share with your networks to help spread the word. Find your favorite panels below and be sure to vote by September 2, 2016!

Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship

Vote at: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/67551

SXSWPanel_Ent4AllJeanHow can we level the playing field for all entrepreneurs—particularly women and people of color—in all places in order to create stronger communities, close the opportunity gap and scale creative solutions to persistent problems? Join tech pioneer and investor Jean Case as she challenges the traditional notions that entrepreneurs are wealthy, white men in this discussion on how women and entrepreneurs of color are fueling economic growth and creating scalable businesses. Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. Explore the journeys of fearless entrepreneurs of color and women who are changing what it means to be a startup founder.

Speakers:

Tweet this: Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. Vote for “Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship” in the #SXSWPanelPicker bit.ly/Ent4AllSXSWvote

 

Emerging Explorers Changing the World Through Tech

Vote at: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/66014

SXSWPanel_ExplorersNational Geographic is one of the world’s largest scientific and education organizations working to turn interest into action—to inspire people to care about the planet and protect it through exploration. Through the Emerging Explorers program, they unite fearless young scientists, conservationists, storytellers, and innovators who are harnessing technology to expand the frontiers of exploration. Join Jean Case and Gary Knell of National Geographic as they highlight the next generation of explorers who are taking risks, being bold and failing forward to change the world through technology for good.

 

Speakers:

Tweet this: #SXSWPanelPicker Vote to hear how @NatGeoExplorers harness #tech to expand frontiers of exploration #BeFearless bit.ly/ExplorersTechSXSWvote

 

Using Data to Unlock Capital

Vote at: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/66995

SXSWPanel_DataCapitalAcross the country, data scientists and developers are working alongside experts in the impact market to forge connections through data that can scale innovative social businesses. Sounds great! So what’s the problem? Data can be hard to come by and the path to connecting people to good data isn’t always clear. Luckily, a growing number of tools with innovative, data-powered interfaces are being developed right now that empower investors, consumers and entrepreneurs to make informed, socially responsible decisions with strong information. What’s ultimately decided around data transparency and reliability has the potential to change the future of how we invest in and grow transformative ideas.

Speakers:

Tweet this: How can data unlock capital for social impact? Vote to help this panel get to #SXSW #impinv bit.ly/UnlockCapitalSXSWvote

 

How to Fundraise Without Silicon Valley

Vote at: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/67828

SXSWPanel_FundraiseSVWe are witnessing a new wave of investment and entrepreneurship in the United States. How can we level the playing field for women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color to fund, grow and scale their thriving businesses? Learn both investor and entrepreneur perspectives on what it takes to build and back inspiring companies and bring the deal process to life for diverse founders.

 

 

Speakers:

Tweet this: How can we level the field for women & entrepreneurs of color to fund, grow & scale? Vote this panel to #SXSW bit.ly/FundraiseSXSWvote

 

Best of SXSW

Vote at: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/68267

SXSWPanel_BLabBusinesses are the engine of economic growth, and B Lab believes that they are also an engine for good social and environmental outcomes. Best of SXSW invites business leaders at SXSW to measure, compare and improve their impact. Take the Quick Impact Assessment to see how your business stacks up, then learn how you can improve your score and your impact. Hear from the B Lab team and meet other local and global business leaders striving to improve the quality of life for their employees, customers and communities. B Lab is seeking to empower all businesses to be a force for good by measuring what matters, and now you can be a part of the movement.

Speakers:

Tweet this: Vote to hear @BCorporation & @CaseFoundation at #SXSW on how business can be a force for #good bit.ly/BestOfSXSWvote

 

Going Live With 2 Billion Of Your Closest Friends

Vote at: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/66640

SXSWPanel_FBLiveTake a deep dive into Facebook Live with digital leaders from the Case Foundation, AJ+ and Facebook. Explore how brands are captivating audiences and using powerful, real-time storytelling through the largest social media platform in the world. From going live with refugees in the Mediterranean Sea, to bringing Broadway to the digital world, to activating the Millennial generation for good, learn from our panelists’ wealth of experience covering global events and high-profile influencers. This workshop will leave participants with tangible methods to experiment and expand their own Facebook Live activations. Leave with best practices on how to set up a quality broadcast on any budget.

Speakers:

Tweet this: Take a deep dive into #FacebookLive w/digital leaders @CaseFoundation @ajplus @Facebook. Vote for this #SXSW panel: bit.ly/FacebookLiveSXSWvote

 

Follow the Crowd—for Good

Vote at: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/67780

SXSWPanel_GoodWorldCrowdfunding is changing the landscape for nonprofit fundraising online. Today there is a growing phenomenon, with dozens of platforms helping organizations using crowd-based tools to reach and exceed their fundraising goals. Join digital pioneers and fundraising champions from the Case Foundation, GoodWorld and more as we explore new and tested approaches to crowdfunding, the power of experimentation, how to tailor creative projects for your campaigns, and what’s new in rewards-based fundraising. Learn how to unlock the power of crowdfunding to drive new innovations, advance game-changing projects and ultimately harness energy and dollars to change the world.

Speakers:

Tweet this: Follow the Crowd — for Good! Vote on #SXSWPanelPicker to learn how crowdfunding is changing nonprofit fundraising: bit.ly/CrowdfundingSXSWvote

 

Virtual Reality—A New Lens for Social Change

Vote at: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/66544

SXSWPanel_VR4GoodVirtual reality is taking the multimedia world by storm. Whether you’ve been transported to Pluto, melting glaciers, or the frontlines of the refugee crisis, immersive video experiences such as these are transforming how stories are being told and experiences are being shared. The ability to bring an issue to life such as hunger, poverty, climate change and countless other challenges is game changing for the social sector. Join us as we explore the new frontiers of virtual reality with leading technology developers and storytellers who are using VR for Good.

 

Speakers:

  • Emily Yu, The Case Foundation (@DCxchange)
  • Sally Smith, The Nexus Fund (@Smith_Sally)
  • Chris Milk  (@milk)

Tweet this: Vote to help the panel “Virtual Reality – A New Lens for Social Change” make it to #SXSW bit.ly/VR4GoodSXSWvote

 

How Elections Change Next Gen Cause Engagement

Vote at: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/65678

SXSWPanel_10Fact: Millennials value cause engagement. But what happens during an election year? Could politics possibly influence how this generation participates in social causes? In November, we learn not only who the next President of the United States will be, but also, for the first time, we are able to track and document the impact of an election on the way in which Millennials engage with social causes. Through the 2016 Millennial Impact Report, Achieve and the Case Foundation identified what—if any—demographic factors are connected to engagement trends. Join us as we release the final wave of survey results exclusively at SXSW and share how organizations can motivate this generation.

Speakers:

Tweet this: Learn How Elections Change NextGen Cause Engagement – vote to see this panel at #SXSW: bit.ly/NextGenSXSWvote

 

Gaming for Good: Changemaking Becomes A Gamechanger

Vote at: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/66435

SXSWPanel_Gaming4GoodIncentivizing people to do good is nothing new… but making it fun and entertaining, now that’s a more recent shift in how changemaking is conceived, thought of and done. Whether it is through raising money through crowdfunding platforms; offering prizes in exchange for actions taken; or watching your favorite gamer play a game and tipping them—knowing that a portion of the money will go to support a nonprofit. The increasing popularity of gamification for good online is helping to bring forth new models of engagement that are creating real world solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges. Find out how games are fundamentally changing how change is made.

 Speakers:

Tweet this: How is #gaming fundamentally changing how change is made? Vote to see this panel @ #SXSW bit.ly/Gaming4GoodSXSWvote

 

How Media Brands Thrive 100+ Years Later

Vote at: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/65479

SXSWPanel_Media100YrsMore than 200 years of content and rich history exists between the global media powerhouses of National Geographic and Atlantic Magazine. While new technology and changing business models usher in a steady stream of competition, these brands continue to thrive. So what sets them apart? Learn from the media platforms that have adapted over decades and are still publishing today reaching nearly 1 billion consumers across the globe. Explore the evolution of their digital platforms, the shifts in American news consumption, trends that are captivating the media industry, key findings on the habits of the modern news consumer, and the standout traits of the most enduring media brands.

Speakers:

Tweet this: 200+ yrs of experience exist btwn @NatGeo & @TheAtlantic —Vote 4 this #SXSW panel on how 100 yo media brands thrive bit.ly/100yrMediaSXSWvote

5 Lessons From a 128 Year Old Millennial

MCON, the Millennial Engagement Conference, was a resounding success this year. From incredible mainstage speakers and fun and enlightening behind-the-scenes interviews on Facebook Live, to engaging online attendee conversations on social media and in-person networking at official MCON evening events, this year’s MCON festival offered participants three action-packed days. It was incredible to hear from Millennial leaders about how they were changing the world, and to hear from innovative brands on how they are working to engage this cause-driven generation.

You can see all of the MCON mainstage talks on YouTube, but our favorite talk was from our CEO Jean Case, sharing how a brand that is 128 years old, National Geographic, continues to stay relevant today and has cultivated Millennial talent and attention. You can see Jean’s full talk below, complete with her “5 reasons National Geographic is really just a 128 year-old Millennial,” followed by a brief Q&A session with CBS News Anchor Reena Ninan.

Header photo courtesy of MCON.