Written by Nick O’Brien
10/16/17 UPDATE: Please note that this article was published when Nick O’Brien served in the role of Community Engagement Specialist for MCDEVCO, Inc.
Several community groups and social activists in the area have teamed up with MCDEVCO for a week of community engagement programming as part of the statewide Young Professional Week initiative known as YPWeek. The week of grassroots-planned events will run April 22–29 and is coordinated by more than 45 organizations in 25 different communities across the state.
YPWeek Wausau will feature 14 local events designed to inspire young adults in the Wausau area to think differently, make things happen, and take pride in living in our community.
YPWeek Wisconsin is modeled after a program started in 2012 by NEWaukee, a Milwaukee-based social architecture firm. NEWaukee facilitates the statewide initiative, as well as organizes opportunities throughout the year for social activists from around Wisconsin to meet and engage in purposeful discussions.
YPWeek Wisconsin was started to provide a weeklong series of events focusing on discovery, adventure, and meaningful conversations about issues that matter to young professionals in the Milwaukee area. In 2015, the initiative gained support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and expanded to include eight cities. Wisconsin is the first and only state in the country to execute a statewide week of collaborative programming among young professional organizations.
Not only is Wausau one of the eight founding cities of YPWeek Wisconsin, but our “city in the north” hosted the first-ever YPWeek Wisconsin event — the 2015 Bubbler Awards and statewide kickoff party — which drew more than 200 attendees from around the state for a night of socializing and celebration in downtown Wausau.
Now in the initiative’s third year, YPWeek Wisconsin touts the nation’s largest millennial talent network and will be showcasing 25 communities in 2017: Chequamegon Bay, Door County, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Fox Cities, Green Bay, Hayward, Kenosha, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Madison, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marshfield, Milwaukee, Price County, Portage, Platteville, Racine, Sheboygan, Stevens Point, Superior, Waukesha County, Wausau, and Wisconsin Rapids.
“YPWeek taps and channels the passion that Wisconsin’s young professionals bring to the workplace to help build and sustain Wisconsin’s strong workforce and high-quality of life,” explains Angela Damiani, CEO and Co-Founder of NEWaukee. “Through YPWeek, we have created the nation’s most comprehensive and collaborative talent engagement strategy.”
Local efforts for this year’s week of programming are being made possible through a generous contribution from Greenheck Fan Corporation (the presenting sponsor for YPWeek Wausau 2017). Greenheck has recently been named a Bubbler Award recipient for the third consecutive year and is the only company in the state that can say that.
This weeklong event is also being supported by more than 30 other local businesses and organizations, including MCDEVCO, which is facilitating the collaboration of several community groups for YPWeek Wausau 2017, including: Urban Pulse, Friday Night Fun, Pure Entertainment, Wausau Quadcopter, People for the Power of Love, and Toward One Wausau.
Prior to YPWeek, most of these local groups had never worked together and for the most part were largely unfamiliar with one another. Now, the groups have not only united to plan a week of impactful programming, but have also benefited from the cross-organizational engagement that the YPWeek process has organically produced — a perfect representation of the primary goal that YPWeek Wausau is aiming to achieve across the rest of the community. Throughout the YPWeek process, these groups have realized that they’re able to make more impact in their respective missions by working collaboratively toward a goal. It’s a result that the groups feel the Wausau community needs more of to ensure long-term community and organizational prosperity.
“YPWeek Wausau offers a unique opportunity to young professionals in Central Wisconsin,” says YPWeek Wausau Co-chair Cassandra Ambrosius. “Through this one-of-a-kind grassroots initiative, we are able to put on weeklong programming created for YPs by YPs — a movement aimed at bringing our community together.”
The community will have plenty of opportunities to experience the fruits of this collaborative initiative with YPWeek Wausau showcasing our community through 14 events during the last week of April, including:
- Speaker Crawl: This interactive professional and personal development program for young professionals is on the YPWeek schedule in Wausau, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, and Fond du Lac. The YPWeek Wausau Speaker Crawl on Monday, April 24, will give attendees a chance to check out Greenheck’s campus, as the affair will showcase the company’s newly constructed buildings and will feature a dynamic lineup of community leaders who will speak on a variety of topics.
- SOUP: As another signature event during YPWeek, SOUP will be back for its third edition in the Wausau community on Thursday, April 27. MCDEVCO will host “SOUPthree” (a micro-granting and community-building event that funds local public projects) in another vacant building. This time around, SOUP followers will be kept in suspense about the location. The address of the “SOUPthree” building will be released about a week before the event, so stay tuned to the Wausau SOUP Facebook page for location hints and the eventual revealing. This SOUP program will take place in Wausau, Sheboygan, Stevens Point, and Green Bay. (If you’re not sure what our local Wausau SOUP events are all about, check out “Wausau SOUP II’s On!” or “What You Missed at Wausau SOUP II” for photos and details of the past two events.)
- Riverfront Rally: The rally will be a showcasing of the east riverfront development, with food trucks and a drone demonstration on Tuesday, April 25.
- Cultural Festival: Dubbed “We Are Wausau,” this cultural festival will be hosted at the Wausau World Market on Friday, April 28.
The full schedule of events is available here or on the YPWeek Wausau Facebook page.
Sheboygan’s Coastal Young Professionals Network will host the statewide YPWeek kickoff event. Young people from across the state plan to travel to Sheboygan for the official launch of the week and to participate in the largest statewide young professional event.
To learn more about the kickoff party in Sheboygan on Saturday, April 22, 2017, and to view the state’s entire lineup of 175+ events, visit www.ypweek.com.
While the tangible outcome of YPWeek Wisconsin is a jam-packed week of social and community engagement programming, the most impactful result the initiative yields in each of the communities can’t be measured by the number of events on the calendar. Just ask Wausau Daily Herald Going Out Reporter, Laura Schulte, who moved to Wausau from Indiana for her job a little more than a year ago:
“YPWeek Wausau has given me a window to see the incredible passion of Wausau’s younger generation,” says Schulte.
The 23-year-old transplant has found her way in the community due in part to her experiences in co-chairing the YPWeek Wausau efforts.
“It’s changed my view of the city and made it a much better place for me to call home.”
Young professionals in the Wausau area aren’t going to want to miss this weeklong event. So, mark your calendars for April 22–29, and be sure to visit the YPWeek Wausau Facebook page for event updates and further details.
Community Engagement Specialist | MCDEVCO, Inc.
Nick O’Brien began his duties with MCDEVCO, Inc., in 2016, as the organization rolled out its new community engagement department. His primary role as Community Engagement Specialist is to connect people, places, and purposes in the community to each other. After his move to Marathon County from Illinois in 2012, he spent nearly 2½ years with WAOW-TV 9 as a sports anchor/reporter, followed by more than a year managing a young professionals initiative for the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce. In the last 2 years, Nick has organized more than 35 community events, including Wausau SOUP, Young Professionals Week 2015, and the Swap Meet, which connected young professionals from Milwaukee and Wausau during a weekend tour of the community. In the spring of 2016, he traveled more than 2,500 miles in 8 days to visit 14 Wisconsin cities and filmed a video to highlight the Young Professionals Week statewide initiative. When he’s not promoting community resources, people, and organizations, Nick loves traveling, seeing live music concerts, and playing sports.
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