EmilyYu_wTitleQ&A with Emily Yu of the Case Foundation

Thanks for talking with us today, Emily. Can you talk a little bit about what you do at the Case Foundation?
My title is VP of marketing and partnerships, and I’ve been at the foundation for four years now. I’m lucky in that I get to work across all the different projects we do at the Case Foundation. I get to dabble in some really bold initiatives dealing with such subjects as impact investing, next gen, entrepreneurship and tech for good. One of my personal passions is working with next-generation change makers.

How does the Case Foundation invest in and work with the Millennial generation?
Jean Case, our CEO, leads the rest of the team in our belief that the Millennial generation is the world’s next “Greatest generation.” They are poised to transform our world and champion the social sector. We find incredible value in investing in the next generation and amplifying their voices, for they are truly fearless change makers that will lead us through the next era of transformative social change.

What success have you seen since the Case Foundation started focusing on the Millennial generation?
The rapid growth in MCON’s popularity, including the growing number of participants and the quality of content, has affirmed our belief in the potential of this generation. Our work with the Millennial Impact Project and even before that with Social Citizens has helped to shape views about Millennials and the talent they bring to the table across sectors.

How has MCON evolved since you first attended?
MCON’s growth in popularity has been astounding. We are so proud to be a part of this initiative with Achieve. A highlight from last year’s MCON was when the hashtag #MCON13 was trending nationally on Twitter! For me, it’s one of the best conference experiences of the year. What makes it really unique is that it’s accessible to literally everyone. If you can’t attend the conference in person, you can get all the benefits from the programming online for free via the live stream.

Why are you personally interested in the next generation?
It’s interesting: We have a really high percentage of Millennial staff at the Case Foundation. Personally, I’m what’s considered a “cusper.”

A cusper?
A “cusper” is someone who is between the Millennial generation and Gen X because of their age. So I’m personally invested in promoting a better understanding of this generation. What we’re seeing in the social sector today can seem daunting, to be sure. The Millennial generation, however, is poised to bring and inspire change unlike any before them. Millennials are known for embracing characteristics of entrepreneurship and collaboration. They transform thinking in non-linear ways. Millennials are set up to create some exciting change.

You are moderating the Be Fearless Pitch-It Competition at MCON14. Can you talk a little bit about what we will see in that session?
We’re really excited about hosting this innovative Be Fearless Pitch It! Be Fearless is all about taking risks, being bold and not being afraid to fail forward when it comes to change. For MCON, we received a number of terrific, impressive submissions and ideas, from which we’ve selected three finalists who will join us on stage at MCON to make their pitch. One winner is going to walk away with $2,000 to help their idea become reality.

What characteristics are you looking for in the winning idea?
All of our finalists already exhibit some of our criteria for Be Fearless: making big bets, experimenting, letting urgency conquer fear, etc. The winning idea will not only be fearless, but also push the boundaries of social change. We’re looking for an idea that truly has the ability to transform a sector. All of the ideas and submissions we received are incredible examples of what the Millennial generation is capable of.

What sessions are you most looking forward to at MCON14?
Off the top of my head, I’m pretty excited about the Chobani dessert bar! But in all seriousness, there are a few sessions I’m really looking forward to. There’s the Fireside Chat between Jean Case and Johnny Dorsey about Millennial change makers and the newest trends on social change. Some of the other sessions I can’t wait to hear are with Paulie Harraka, the NASCAR driver, and the political panel with Steven Olikara, Michael Tubbs and Carrie Sheffield.

Emily Yu is one of the Case Foundation’s leading advocates for innovative and scalable approaches that address social challenges. She leads the foundation’s next gen initiative, which explores how young adults will influence change over the coming decade. At MCON14, she’ll moderate the Be Fearless Pitch-It Competition, where audience members will help select the winner of $2,000.