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 issued a special survey to answer this very question. The survey tracked the impact of the election on the way in which millennials from across the country engaged with social causes—both before and after the election. 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!

It’s Time to Get in the Arena

2017 is a special year for us at the Case Foundation. It marks the 20th anniversary of an idea that has continued to drive and inspire us in all that we do—investing in people and ideas that can change the world. Over the last two decades, with this vision, and in collaboration with a vast array of parties, we have been proud to contribute to, inspire and champion the incredible progress that has moved people and organizations from intention to action. From clean water and the digital divide, to increased opportunities for service and civic participation, to impact investing and inclusive entrepreneurship, we have worked with others to catalyze efforts to create transformative change. 

Over the past 20 years, philanthropy and the social sector has witnessed incredible progress. We believe that leveraging the power of the entrepreneurial spirit and technology to help solve the world’s most challenging problems is a key ingredient to this progress, and, as we kickoff our 20th year, we remain committed to ensuring this focus is at the center of all our work. At the same time, our experience over the past 20 years has taught us that addressing these challenges through true collaboration amongst diverse actors and smart partnerships is much more effective than fighting alone, and therefore we commit that collaboration will continue to be a hallmark of our work in the days ahead.

Through all of these experiences we have learned a great deal and recognize that the lessons learned will both inspire and inform our future. As we look back, it’s hard not to see that the common key to all of our efforts has been pushing ourselves and others to challenge assumptions and take risks. We have challenged ourselves and others to get off the sidelines and “get into the arena” to address our most pressing challenges.

This is not a new idea of course, but it resonates more in the context of today’s world than perhaps ever before. Citizen engagement has been a hallmark of successful democracies for centuries and is core to our mission. In 1910, Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech known as, “The Man In The Arena” that captures this fundamental belief in citizen engagement: 

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

As we welcome 2017, Teddy Roosevelt’s words still ring true. And we can think of no better time than now for each of us to identify ways we, personally, can heed his call and “get in the arena” to make a positive impact in our communities. That is why we are dedicating our 20th Anniversary year to calling on all to “Get in the Arena.”

Throughout 2017, we will be bringing forward ideas, stories and events that highlight people and ideas that can change the world using the hashtag #GetInTheArena. We hope you will join us and share with us your own vision of what it means to take action on the issues and challenges that matter the most to you and your community. For those wondering when it is the right time to jump in, the answer is now. For those already in the arena, we hope you’ll engage in new ways and inspire others to jump in as well.  

20 Best Quotes From SXSW Interactive

The Case Foundation team is back from whirlwind week at SXSW Interactive where we hosted a series of events and panels. Our time there was filled with dynamic sessions, learning from people who are truly changing the world.

From the opening day fireside chat with our founders Jean and Steve Case, who shared their roadmap for innovators and entrepreneurs in the rapidly evolving, “internet of everything” economy, to President Barack Obama’s conversation with Texas Tribune’s Editor Evan Smith on civic engagement in the 21st century, there was no shortage of inspiring and moving words spoken on SXSW stages. We heard narratives on the future of entrepreneurship that explored how we can cultivate more inclusive ecosystems, how news platforms are coping and capitalizing in the advent of social media, why the intersection between policy and technology is important and so much more.

While it’s impossible to capture everything that we heard in one blog post, we have pulled together a collection of tweets chronicling the best quotes from some of our favorite sessions at the conference.

And so, here are our top 20 quotes from SXSW, in tweet form and in chronological order.

From Jean and Steve Case: A Roadmap for Innovators:

1. “Startups are the seed corn of the future.” – Steve Case, Chairman of the Case Foundation

2. “Performance is higher when teams are diverse. Bring people into the mix who have been left out.” – Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation

3. “The intersection between policy and technology are increasingly important.” – Steve Case, Chairman of the Case Foundation

4. “Transformational breakthrough requires confronting fear of failure.” – Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation


5. “If you never fail, you’re doing it wrong. Missteps help your progress, and those who come after.” – Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation

5. “Revolutions happen in evolutionary ways.” – Steve Case, Chairman of the Case Foundation

 

From President Barack Obama’s discussion with Evan Smith:

7. “We are at a moment in history where technology and globalization, our economy is changing so fast and this gathering brings together people at the cutting edge of these changes. These changes offer us a lot of opportunities, but are also very unsettling.” – President Barack Obama

8. “It’s not enough to focus on what’s the cool new thing…we need to focus more on solving big challenges.” – President Barack Obama

9. “Using big data, tech, analytics to find new ways to solve old problems and build stronger citizen participation.” – President Barack Obama

 

From Inclusive Entrepreneurship Panel at SoFin @ SXSW:

10. “Inclusive entrepreneurship is an imperative for our economy to work.” – Ross Baird, Executive Director of Village Capital

11. “When diversity is baked in its easier to make a core part of your brand.” – Justin Davis, Program Manager at Kapor Center

12. “We are putting our money where our mouth is investing in rise of the rest communities across the US.” – Allyson Burns, SVP of Communications and Marketing at the Case Foundation

 

From #Movements: When a Hashtag Breaks the News:

13. “Breaking of news is now a commodity, contextualizing is the key for differentiation.” – Jean Ellen Cowgill, President of Atlantic Media Strategies

14. “Skilled organizers on the ground just as much – or more – important than a hashtag in raising awareness in Ferguson.” – Shadi Rahimi, Acting Executive Producer of Al Jazeera’s AJ+

 

From the Case Foundation’s SXgood sessions, SXgood Stories: Myth of the Entrepreneur and SXgood Lab: The Future of Entrepreneurship presented by the Case Foundation

15. “At their core, an entrepreneur is a problem solver, and we need people solving more diverse problems.” – Sheila Herrling, SVP of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation

16. “I’m optimistic about the power of leaders making better choices and prioritizing diversity.” – Casey Gerald, Co-founder and CEO of MBA’s Across America

17. “Only 11 African American women have raised more than $1M in venture funding.” – Earl Robinson, President of PowerMoves sharing data from the Project Diane study

18. “We believe in leveling the playing field for all entrepreneurs.” – Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation

19. “Talent is evenly distributed opportunity is not.” – Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation

 

From USAID’s Global Innovation Challenge: Lifting 1 billion people out of poverty:

20. “People with the best ideas come from unexpected places.” – Ann Mei Chang, Chief Innovation Officer and the Executive Director of the U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID

UPDATED: 12 Can’t Miss Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2016

It’s that time of year again: We’re less than a month away from SXSW Interactive—a five-day festival that showcases a mix of digital creativity, emerging technology and unique networking events. With nearly 34,000 participants and countless panels, workshops and sessions, narrowing down your schedule can be a little overwhelming, but our staff of SXSW veterans have put together a list of 12 sessions you can’t miss.

From March 11 through 15, members of the Case Foundation team will be on-site learning about new trends in social good, philanthropy and technology from thought leaders in the sector and leading eight sessions on social good issues, inclusive entrepreneurship, philanthropy, innovation and more that we hope you will join us for:

FRIDAY, MARCH 11

11:00 am: Jean and Steve Case: A Roadmap for Innovators
Austin Convention Center, Room 18ABCD
Join our CEO Jean Case and Chairman Steve Case, two of the world’s most prominent technology pioneers, investors and philanthropists, as they talk with Ben Johnson of Marketplace Tech and share a roadmap for innovators and entrepreneurs who want to change the world.

2:30 pm: Inclusive Entrepreneurship Panel at SoFin @ SXSW
Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, 217 Congress Ave.
Case Foundation SVP of Communications, Allie Burns, joins a panel at SoFin @ SXSW to explore the subject of inclusive entrepreneurship and why supporting entrepreneurs from under-represented backgrounds is the key to building a stronger future.

SATURDAY, MARCH 12

11:00 am: #Movements: When a Hashtag Breaks the News
W Marriott, Salon C
Our Senior Director of Communications, Jade Floyd, leads a discussion with researchers and journalists on how, in an age where more than half of all Facebook and Twitter users get their news from these sites, powerful hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #BringBackOurGirls, #GivingTuesday and more, are able to take over social media and momentous moments in time.

3:00 pm: Village Capital 2016 FinTech Showcase
Maggie Mae’s, 323 E 6th St
Our CEO Jean Case joins our friends at Village Capital as a judge for their pitch competition focused on supporting financial inclusion entrepreneurs from around the US, particularly entrepreneurs from under-represented backgrounds in technology.

SUNDAY, MARCH 13

4:00 pm: #WhatsGoodMixer at SXSW 2016
The Connected Yard, 83 Rainey Street
Hosted by our CEO Jean Case, join CauseMedia Group and What’s Trending for a social good mixer, bringing together nonprofit leaders, social activists, technologists and corporate partners for a look at innovations in social good. You must RSVP for this event. Click here and use password whatsgood to RSVP today.

MONDAY, MARCH 14

1:15 pm: SXgood Stories: Myth of the Entrepreneur
Palm Door on Sixth
The Case Foundation hosts an entertaining and eye opening storytelling session featuring four entrepreneurial thought leaders. These dynamic individuals will each share a brief story about the challenges and opportunities they face as entrepreneurs… but only two will be true, while the other two are false. Will you be able to tell fact from fiction?

2:30 pm: SXgood Lab: The Future of Entrepreneurship presented by the Case Foundation
Palm Door on Sixth Patio
Join the our SVP of Social Innovation, Sheila Herrling, and the Case Foundation for a lively group discussion to inspire ideas for how we can create a new narrative for the future of entrepreneurship together. This session is aimed at crafting actionable concepts for how we can create a more diverse and inclusive reality for our entrepreneurial community. Following the session, join us for a networking happy hour.

3:45 pm: Global Innovation Challenge: Lifting 1 billion people out of poverty presented by USAID
Palm Door on Sixth
USAID is calling on innovators everywhere to help end extreme poverty. Three social entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to solve global development challenges in an interactive competition, and our CEO Jean Case will be one of the pitch competition judges.

We’re also excited to take part in the many sessions that promise to stretch our minds, inspire our creativity and just have fun, like the three sessions below. Have another can’t miss SXSW session we should know about? Tweet us the details using @CaseFoundation so we can share it with our community.

FRIDAY, MARCH 11

11:00 am: New World of Photography and Visual Storytelling
Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon F
Seasoned National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore has put the reach of modern media platforms to work through Photo Ark, using the power of both traditional and social media on National Geographic’s many publishing platforms to create a connection between animals and the people who can help protect them. Share in this panel’s lessons of making media meaningful, while enjoying amazing photos and videos.

12:30 pm: Social Activism: How to Ignite a Movement
JW Marriot, Salon C
What does it take to transform an idea into a viral movement for social good? Author and researcher Derrick Feldmann has spent the past two years talking with the people behind the biggest social movements of our time. He’ll share their stories and some of their secrets and what you can do to make your cause go viral.

MONDAY, MARCH 14

9:30 am: Tech at Issue in 2016 Election
JW Marriott, Salon 5
With the 2016 presidential campaigns in full swing, we will take a deep dive into how issues around technology and entrepreneurship will impact politics and the presidential election.

TUESDAY, MARCH 15

12:30 pm: Swipe Left or Right: The Latino Millennial Vote
Austin Convention Center, Ballroom EFG
Join Maria Teresa Kumar for a deep dive into the mind of a Latino millennial: why and how they vote and how they’ll shape our political landscape for years to come.

Not headed to SXSW this year? Follow along with the Case Foundation team members on Twitter at @CaseFoundation, @JeanCase, @Sherrling, @AllieB, @JadeFloydDC, and our chairman at @SteveCase.

Photo credit: shelbysdrummond.

Unleashing Entrepreneurship in Africa: Solutions for the World

At the core of the Foundation’s “Unleashing Entrepreneurship” pillar is the belief that startups—and entrepreneurial approaches—play a key role in tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges. We’ve put that belief into practice by supporting promising initiatives that bring business to the problem-solving table and catalyze strong entrepreneurial ecosystems in the U.S. and abroad.

We’ve seen first-hand the role that a business approach can play in unleashing innovative new ideas and providing scalable models for change all over the world through a number of organizations and initiatives we’ve supported, including: the U.S.-Palestinian Partnership’s investment in entrepreneurs in the West Bank; Water for People’s efforts to leverage community-based entrepreneurs to provide access to clean water and sanitation in the developing world; and Startup America Partnership and UP Global’s development of strong entrepreneurial ecosystems. We’re also focused on building the impact investing movement, which we believe will catalyze a significant wave of new capital to companies that will not just benefit their shareholders, but society as a whole. The Foundation’s most recent exploration has been in launching an Inclusive Entrepreneurship initiative that confronts rising inequality and taps into the fuller entrepreneurial potential of communities and countries (including all backgrounds and locations) to get beyond those who traditionally have easier access to entrepreneurship and lift up women- and minority-owned businesses.

It is for all of these reasons that we are excited to participate in the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) taking place in Nairobi, Kenya later this week. We are thrilled to join the event as part of Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s official delegation. Our CEO, Jean Case, will moderate a panel on “Women Entrepreneurs” and will judge the GES “Women + Youth Day” seminal event—a pitch competition with financial and mentorship capital prizes. The Case Foundation is proud to contribute to both aspects of the prize pool. Steve Case, who will be participating in his capacity as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE), is moderating a panel on “Getting Ready for Growth” featuring groundbreaking entrepreneurs and investors, including fellow PAGE member Brian Chesky from Airbnb.

There is plenty of excitement over the fact that this year’s summit in Nairobi is the first GES taking place in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the past few years, we’ve continued to hear about the shift from aid dollars to investment flowing to the continent, expressed by the familiar refrain that “Africa is open for business.” That is why in addition to our time at GES, we are excited to spend time in Nairobi, as well as in Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria exploring these emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems over the next few weeks.

In each city, we will have the opportunity to visit with some of the organizations we’ve supported in Africa over the years (including Sanergy in Nairobi), spend time at accelerators like the iHub, HubAccra and Co-Creation Hub and participate in panel discussions with leading African entrepreneurs and investors. We expect to learn more about the unique aspects that make each city’s entrepreneurial scene tick—from social entrepreneurs tackling challenges like energy and sanitation in Nairobi, to the fashion-savvy hub of Accra and the e-commerce revolution in Lagos.

Most of all, we are excited about spending time with the entrepreneurs—with special attention given to women entrepreneurs and social enterprises—who are at the heart of driving innovation in each of these cities. In addition to site visits with some of the continent’s fastest growing companies like M-Kopa in Nairobi, Andela and ACE in Lagos and the Cadling Fashion Factory in Accra, we will host a pitch competition in each city. A set of the most promising young startups in each region will vie for an investment prize of at least $25,000 from Jean and Steve Case, matched by local and international investors.

We can’t wait to hear the stories of these entrepreneurs who are working on game changing solutions not just for Africa, but also for the world, and sharing those stories along the way. Be sure to follow along via Twitter @CaseFoundation and #CaseAfrica, as well as via our personal Twitter handles: @AllieB, @SHerrling and @Broksas.

A New Path forward for UP Global

At the Case Foundation and Revolution, we have long been supporters of the idea that unleashing the power of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial approaches is crucial to drive innovation, accelerate economic growth, create jobs and solve big, intractable problems. That’s why we’ve invested directly in entrepreneurs, supported programs like the US-Palestinian Partnership (and as a result the creation of a venture capital fund in the West Bank) and created initiatives like the Startup America Partnership and Rise of the Rest. And it’s why I’ve served, and continue to serve, in leadership roles for efforts like the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.

In May of 2013, we supported the creation of a new organizationUP Global, which represented the combined power of the rapidly growing Startup Weekend and the Startup America Partnership, which we co-created alongside the Kauffman Foundation. I’ve been proud to serve as chair of UP Global as the organization seeks to leverage grassroots communities to create and nurture entrepreneurial ecosystems in the U.S. and around the world. Since that time, the UP Global organization has continued to expand – nearly doubling the presence of Startup Weekend, which in 2014 held 905 events in 501 cities (in 135 countries), and introducing new programming like Startup Week, bringing together 18,000 attendees in places like Columbus, Phoenix, Manila and Stockholm. You can learn more about the organization’s growth in its most recent impact report, available here.

Today, UP Global has taken an important next step in the future of the organization by becoming a part of Techstars, an organization that has played a key role in identifying high-potential entrepreneurs and bringing the power of the ecosystem to help them grow. The merger will combine two powerful entrepreneurial networks with closely aligned missions. It is our hope that the efforts of UP Global will continue to gain momentum, further extending its global footprint and reaching more people in more places.

The Startup Weekend, Startup Next, Startup Digest and Startup Week programs will remain under the Techstars umbrella, and while much of the groundwork and principles established by the Startup America Partnership efforts will continue within a number of Techstars programs, the brand will not. At the Case Foundation, we continue to see an opportunity for an effort focused specifically on the role of entrepreneurship to drive American innovation, and as a result we have retained the Startup America Partnership brand. We have begun to explore opportunities for future Startup America programming, and will have more to share in the coming months.

In the meantime, please join us in congratulating the UP Global and Techstars team as they forge a new path ahead for entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world.

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

This post was written by Ross Baird on behalf of the Case Foundation:

This past Monday, I participated in the “Impact Investing Rumble” at SXSW, a, lively debate hosted by Jean Case and the Case Foundation. At the heart of the Rumble was the question: “Does ‘impact investing’ necessarily mean concessionary returns?” To some, it seems completely logical that there is a class of investors that would be willing to sacrifice a little bit of profit if it meant more impact in businesses.

But I think that argument is wrong. I believe strongly that people who invest in businesses that positively impact society will make outsized returns in the next decade. Why? On Saturday (also at SXSW), Steve Case provided an excellent framing for the panel proposing the concept of the “Third Wave” of the Internet. The “First Wave”—from 1985-2000—got people online, and Steve and Jean Case had a lot to do with that. The “Second Wave”—from 2000-2015—used the infrastructure of the Internet to connect people. Mark Zuckerberg, Google, and Twitter have evaporated the distance between us and anyone else in the world in a constant conversation. Steve proposed a “Third Wave”—sharing his predictions on how the Internet, over the next 15 years, will pervade the rest of our lives, from our health, to education, to how we power and feed ourselves as a society.

The billion-dollar companies of the next fifteen years will be found in the areas that have the highest impact on people’s lives.

As Steve outlined at SXSW, the Internet has poised to transform sectors from health to education to food/agriculture to energy to financial services. At the organization I run, Village Capital, we are seeing this every day. We have an investment in Salt Lake City called TruClinic that is powering telemedicine across the world. Another investment, Spensa, in West Lafayette Indiana, is dramatically reducing the cost of pesticide application through smart insect monitoring. eMoneyPool in Phoenix, Arizona, is targeting the billion Americans who use informal savings groups as their primary bank account worldwide to credit. And PearDeck, an Iowa City company in our current education program, is transforming how teachers interact with their classroom through real-time interaction. We’re seeing these businesses get significant traction in mainstream markets—most recently at SXSW, PearDeck won the “Rise of the Rest” pitch competition as the best startup from Steve Case and Revolution’s 2014 “Rise of the Rest” tour.

Businesses in these sectors have the ability to transform things that everybody does every day—not just build apps that make the lives of the best-off in society more convenient through live social media streaming or on-demand valet parking. And the single thing they all have in common is they are under-valued by the market. At SXSW, I met a venture capitalist from a well-known Silicon Valley venture firm and we were discussing our investments in common. When I mentioned the industries we work in—health, food/agriculture, energy, education, financial services, he said “oh, we don’t touch those—they’re regulated industries.” And when I mentioned the cities we work in, he said, “oh, we only invest close to home.”

While Silicon Valley is the most amazing entrepreneurial ecosystem on the planet, current Silicon Valley investment attitudes are undervaluing 98% of entrepreneurs worldwide. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this argument. The sectors that have the potential for the most impact on our lives, positive or negative, are usually regulated (and probably should be). And the entrepreneurs who have the most potential to transform core industries such as energy or agriculture are typically placed closest to energy and food production—and sometimes far from the most active entrepreneurial hotbeds.

The bottom line: the investors in the market who do not incorporate impact into how they invest, and look for the companies that are solving the problems faced by the most people, are missing the billion-person and billion-dollar opportunities of the “Third Wave” of the Internet. And investors who overlook entrepreneurs in industries that have the highest-impact, and in locations outside of the most developed entrepreneurial ecosystems, are ignoring 98% of businesses worldwide—and missing out on transformational opportunities.

In the Rumble, Sonal Shah, executive director of the Beeck Center for Entrepreneurship, said that regularly, entrepreneurs seeking an impact automatically relegate themselves to the “kid’s table”—looking for just philanthropy and concessionary capital. Jigar Shah, founder of SunEdison, pointed out the problem with this: real transformation (wireless power, thermal storage) requires in the hundreds of millions of capital—which only the mainstream markets can bring.

Yet the way the world is going, tremendous opportunities will only explode in the areas with the highest impact. To get there, though, impact investors—and entrepreneurs seeking an impact—have to identify, explore, and invest in the markets with the highest potential for impact—though they may be harder initially to develop. Entrepreneurs and investors will have to work at least twice as hard in more difficult to navigate sectors and ecosystems. The “train is leaving the station,” though, as Jean Case said at the end of the panel—and the payoff will be well worth the effort.

Ross Baird is the Executive Director of Village Capital

Can Startups Save the American Dream?

Last year, I traveled more than 1,800 miles to witness first-hand the role that entrepreneurs are playing in reviving local economies and driving innovation in cities throughout the heart of America. I’m thrilled to see that the rest is certainly rising in places like Pittsburgh, which is taking advantage of its Steel City roots to usher in a new era of engineering and robotics innovation, or Cincinnati capitalizing on the iconic brands that call the city home to build the next generation of consumer companies. Or in Nashville, where startups are capitalizing on the city’s health care heritage to create new kinds of digital health and wellness companies, or St. Louis, which is emerging as a hub of innovation for agtech (agricultural technologies) and bioscience. But at a time when the opportunity gap is growing and the divisions in communities seem to be widening, we can’t forget that entrepreneurs can – and must – also play a role in creating pathways for all, and in helping to rebuild America’s shrinking middle class.

So when the University of Virginia approached me to help answer the question, “Can Startups Save the American Dream?” I jumped at the opportunity. While we’ve known for some time that young companies are responsible for a majority of new jobs created in the past several decades, less is known about the role that startups can play in creating jobs specifically for the middle class. Over the past several months, I, along with fellow co-chair Carly Fiorina and a dozen entrepreneurs, policy experts, thought leaders and journalists, have served on a commission organized by the Milstein Symposium at UVA’s Miller Center to explore innovative, yet practical, ideas on how to create and sustain middle-class jobs through entrepreneurship.

I’ve long said that entrepreneurs are the secret sauce of America – building not only iconic companies but entire industries. Historically, entrepreneurship hasn’t always been about the next big exit, but rather about creating pathways to the middle class and attaining the American Dream. And entrepreneurs must again be at the heart of rebuilding the American economy. There are many encouraging signs: as a nation we have created more than 10.9 million jobs over the last 57 months (the longest streak of private-sector job growth on record); the stock market is at an all-time high with the Dow Jones above 18,000 points; our high-school graduation rates are the highest they have ever been and more students are earning post secondary degrees than ever before; and policy reforms like the American Jumpstarting Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which creates better access to capital and incentivizes investment in young companies, were implemented.

At the same time, the income gap continues to widen, and not enough people are feeling the impact of the economic rebound. Too many people are still without jobs. And some of the data show a troubling slowdown in both new company starts and the rate at which young companies are creating new jobs. A 2014 study by Brookings shows that businesses are closing at a higher rate than being created for the first time in 30 years of data. This decline in business dynamism is happening universally across all U.S. regions. Kauffman research on entrepreneurial activity found that the rate of business creation declined from .30 percent of adults in 2012 to .28 percent of adults in 2013 continuing the downward trend from 2011.

It is with this backdrop that our Milstein Commission worked to develop recommendations for new ways to boost America’s entrepreneurial energy and provide new pathways for creating middle class jobs. We’re thrilled to unveil the following five recommendations in a new report out this morning:

Unlock Capital for Main Street Entrepreneurs

Programs like the Community Reinvestment Act and increased Community Development Financial Institution Investments (CDFIs) can provide access to critical sources of capital that entrepreneurs need to launch, sustain or scale their operations.

Accelerate impact investing through program-related investments (PRIs)

Impact investing can help transform and advance the middle-class through contributions to innovations in areas such as healthcare, energy and education, all important for middle-class households. Expanding awareness and accessibility of PRIs capital pools can encourage more impact investing among foundations and mainstream investors.

Build a Regulatory Roadmap

Starting and maintaining a business can be overwhelming with numerous rules and regulations to navigate. A “Regulatory Roadmap” can help entrepreneurs navigate the landscape and encourage regulators to streamline their processes.

Empower the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders

Many children have an entrepreneurial spirit to tackle the world’s problems and think outside the box, but by the time they go through school, all those instincts change. Creating a national competition for students at the K-12 level can help to energize students’ interest and expose them to entrepreneurial thinking and the possibility of taking the path to becoming an entrepreneur.

Equip civic leaders to build entrepreneurial ecosystems

Creating an “Ecosytem-in-a-Box” will give community and civic leaders the tools and knowledge to foster a thriving entrepreneurial community and boost their local economies.

It’s also important to note what we mean when we talk entrepreneurship. When you say the word “startup,” what comes to mind for many are technology and Internet companies. Tech companies have indeed been the source of invaluable innovation and job creation, but have also in some cases been job destroyers. The young companies that will rebuild our middle class will be those that focus on creating real jobs, not just on creating monetary value. Take Revolution Foods, for example – as a result of its mission to provide healthy school lunches, the company has created nearly two thousand middle class jobs in cities across the country.

Later this morning, Carly and I will join our fellow commissioners and Steve Clemons from The Atlantic at the Halcyon House to discuss these recommendations with a group of stakeholders from the government, corporate, nonprofit and entrepreneurial communities. We hope you’ll join us online via the livestream at: 10:30am via.

Our hope is to spark not just a dialogue, but collaborative action in moving these ideas forward as we seek to accelerate entrepreneurship and as a result create more onramps to achieve the American Dream. And, we need more spaces like the Midtown Global Market that I visited in Minneapolis, which empowers aspiring low income and immigrant entrepreneurs to start their own businesses – enabling people like Enrique, the owner of La Loma Tamales in the Global Market, to build what could be the next Chipotle. I encourage you to read the report HERE, share your thoughts with us #FutureofEnt and join us in taking action.

Let’s Startup America!

America’s story has been forged in large part by entrepreneurs who have, against great odds, created innovative products and services that have changed the world – and created millions of jobs.

Today, as the Internet and new social technologies continue to explode and create new opportunities, as science and medicine advance at lightning speeds, and as the world grows more interconnected, the opportunities for entrepreneurship abound, but it’s up to a new class of creative risk-takers to unleash the next wave of American innovation.

As a result, I’m honored and thrilled to serve as chair of the Startup America Partnership, announced at the White House today, and co-funded by the Case Foundation and our great friends at the Kauffman Foundation, with Kauffman President and CEO Carl Schramm serving as a founding board member.

Startup America is a White House campaign to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation, and the Partnership represents the private sector’s commitment to the campaign. By creating an alliance of entrepreneurs, funders, CEOs, universities and other leaders, the Partnership represents an exciting opportunity for government and the private sector to work together to dramatically increase the prevalence, scale, and success of innovative, high-growth U.S. firms.

I know from my days at AOL that government can open doors and help spark new ideas. It can convene leaders and influencers from different worlds and put them in the same room to share ideas. It can challenge people and companies to do better, to do more. It can invest in and shape ground breaking research, and then, at its smartest, move aside and let innovation take hold.

But government can’t do it alone. Businesses need to take up the challenge and help to create an ecosystem that nurtures the creation and growth of new enterprises, companies that are “built to last” and will be the cornerstones of tomorrow’s economy.

Working together is the key. The Startup America Partnership will work to promote high-growth entrepreneurship across the country with new initiatives that encourage private sector investment in job-creating startups, accelerate research, and address barriers to success for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

It starts by celebrating entrepreneurship. Last week, when I heard President Obama say, “We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair,” I gave a cheer. As a society, we invest time and energy in what we celebrate. This Partnership is a way to celebrate, recognize and encourage entrepreneurs and innovators as a critical gear in the engine of growth.

I am excited to embark on this journey, working with many of our great public sector leaders who were at the launch today: Commerce Secretary Locke, the new head of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, and SBA administrator Karen Mills. I am equally excited about the enthusiasm that the private sector has shown with significant commitments from companies like Intel, IBM, Ernst and Young, TechStars and so many others.

But, honestly, what I am most excited about is igniting a spark that propels young entrepreneurs and enterprises everywhere.

So, tell us what you think, share your ideas, and let us know your #startupamerica story on Twitter as well. Together we can create jobs, build the next great companies that bring hope and opportunity to communities, and Startup America!