This weekend, President Bill Clinton hosted the fifth annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting in Washington, D.C. More than 1,000 students representing all 50 states, 82 countries, and more than 300 universities gathered on Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31 at the George Washington University. During the first two days of the CGI U 2012 meeting, students along with distinguished speakers and moderators, examined critical topics such as the transformation of the Middle East, the global economic crisis and its impact on young people, recruiting and retaining teachers, the famine in the Horn of Africa, cost-effective campus sustainability programs, and the youth movement for global health.

“Our fifth CGI University meeting has been a real success, with 915 new commitments made, which brings us to nearly 4,000 total commitments since the first meeting in 2008,” said President Clinton. “Young people have a greater ability to enact change than ever before and CGI U is a global network of young people seeking to use the resources at their disposal to make a difference in the world.”

Dr. Steve Knapp, president of the George Washington University provided opening remarks during Friday night’s opening plenary session, followed by an exceptional panel on the importance of public service featuring Madeline K. Albright; chair, Albright Stonebridge Group, Rye Barcott, co-founder, Carolina for Kibera, Usher, chairman and founder, Usher’s New Look Foundation, and Sadiqa Basiri Saleem, executive director, Oruj Learning Center.

Today, President Clinton and Jon Stewart closed the second day of CGI U 2012 with a candid discussion and addressed questions directly from CGI U students on topics ranging from the state of Afghanistan, gay marriage, domestic violence, energy policy, foreign aid in developing countries, unemployment, and the role of civic engagement among today’s youth.

Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong, opened Saturday’s morning plenary session with a discussion on failure as both a necessary part of the entrepreneurial and design process, but also how initial failure can lead to future success. The panel included successful entrepreneurs such as Buzzcar Founder and CEO, Robin Chase, President of Echoing Green, Cheryl Dorsey, Sproxil CEO, Ashifi Gogo, and Twitter Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Twitter, Biz Stone.

Today’s afternoon plenary was moderated by Chelsea Clinton, who led a discussion on how to create opportunity in the economically unstable world and how young people can move beyond business-as-usual and create economic opportunity for generations to come. The dynamic panel included Demos Vice President of Policy and Programs, Tamara Draut, Wello CEO, Cynthia Koenig, Inter-American Development Bank President, Luis A. Moreno and Founder of Navdanya, Vandana Shiva.

Students also participated in working sessions and skill sessions throughout Saturday where they were able to discuss and learn about topics in each of CGI U’s five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation and Public Health.

The working sessions provided students with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of their CGI U commitments – a plan to address a major global challenge. Working session topics discussed environmental entrepreneurship, mass mobilization, delivering advance medical technology to remote places, and the relationship between the public and the private sectors, with moderators and speakers including Esteban Bullrich, minister of education, City of Buenos Aires; Kristen Bell, activist and actress, Invisible Children, Charity: Water; Majora Carter, principal, Majora Carter Group, LLC; Liz Maw, executive director, Net Impact; and Roxanne Quimby, Co-founder, Burt’s Bee.

CGI U students also participated in skill sessions which provided them with opportunities to learn from experts in the field on how to enhance the effectiveness of their CGI U commitment. The session topics included Creating Buzz: Using Social Media to Market Your Cause; Driving Results: Monitoring and Evaluating Your Project; Raising Money for Your Commitment; The Next Step: Moving from Idea to Action and were hosted by the following participants: Samuel Graham-Felsen, new media strategist, Independent Consultant; Craig Newmark, founder, craigslist and craigconnects; Patricia Pasqual, director, Foundation Center; and CGI U alumni Christina Newman, founder and president, Hens for Haiti and Matt Severson, president, The School Fund.

Tomorrow, CGI U 2012 will conclude with a day of service, mobilizing nearly 800 attendees and volunteers who will work alongside local veterans to give back to the D.C. community. This year, the service project is held in partnership with Rebuilding Together and the United Service Organizations (USO), and will include remarks by President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, board member, Clinton Global Initiative and William J. Clinton Foundation, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, United States House of Representatives (D-DC), Wes Moore, author and television host, Omari Productions, and Richard J. Wilhelm, executive vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton at the Kelly Miller Middle School, located in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Service project participants will be assigned to one of the two partner organizations’ projects, including participating in a wide variety of home repair activities to low-income homeowners in need and assembling packages that will be sent to military units who are either about to deploy or are currently overseas. In total, CGI U participants will contribute more than 2,500 hours of service for Rebuilding Together and the USO.

CGI University is grateful for the support of its sponsors: The Victor Pinchuk Foundation, The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Microsoft, Laureate International Universities, Andy Nahas, Joan and Irwin Jacobs, Peter Kovler, The Prospect Fund, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

The following new commitments were announced over the last two days:


Pay It Forward

Commitment by: Abe Lopez, Caroline Chen, Shelby Couch, and Christina Lee

Schools: Illinois State University, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Summary: As campus representatives for the youth service organization Students Today, Leaders Forever, Abe, Caroline, Shelby, and Christina commit to creating new programs that will provide additional community service opportunities for young Americans across the country. Building on the 185,000 service hours already contributed by Students Today, Leaders Forever, these students will help the organization meet its goal of scaling up by 37,000 hours of service nationwide over the next year.


Code the Change

Commitment by: Sam King

School: Stanford University

Summary: To better connect the worlds of nonprofit and the computer sciences, Sam commits to expanding the national presence of his organization – Code the Change. At Stanford University, the organization annually hosts six Code Jams, events in which computer science students volunteer up to 24 hours of their skills for nonprofit projects, and plans to expand their programming to 10 additional universities in the coming year. This increase will provide 60 additional days of volunteer programming for nonprofit technology needs.



Commitment by: Patrick Oathout

School: Duke University

Summary: Patrick Oathout will create Uhuru, an online operating module that uses mobile crowdsourcing technology to increase access to information among the international refugee community. Refugees will be able to send personal status reports, via a downloadable app, a Twitter hashtag, an SMS message, or email, which will then populate an online interactive map. The module and app launch in May, and Patrick will travel to Jordan this summer to do supplementary outreach.


Hands on Haiti: Reimagine

Commitment by: Kayla Look Loy and Victoria Sanon

School: University of Georgia

Summary: Kayla and Victoria will assemble and sell a Haitian cookbook to sponsor a scholarship fund for primary school students in Haiti, as well as spread cultural awareness in the United States. Through their organization, Hands on Haiti, these two women hope to publish the cookbook by the fall of this year, and sponsor the studies of up to 100 students starting in January of next year.


Teach for Africa

Commitment by: Peggy Mativo

School: Harvard University

Summary: Kenyan native Peggy Mativo commits to giving back through the creation of Teach for Africa, a program that will provide trained teaching assistants to underserved schools in Nairobi, Kenya.


YouTeach Brazil: YouTube-Based EFL Curriculum Design for Public School Teachers in the Amazon

Commitment by: Lindsey Keller Bowman

School: Monterey Institute of International Studies

Summary: Lindsey Keller Bowman will use YouTube to provide English teachers working in isolated communities in Brazil with free online videos featuring lesson plan demos, curriculum design assistance, and best practices advice.



Commitment by: JP Peckinpaugh, Annie Wright, and Jennifer Lancaster

School: Transylvania University

Summary: Peckinpaugh, Wright, and Lancaster commit to implementing a strategic plan to convert waste material from local breweries into clean energy for Transylvania University, thus reducing the Kentucky school’s reliance on coal.


The Bantu Project

Commitment by: Makhosonkhe Nsibandze

School: University of Pennsylvania

Summary: Makhosonkhe Nsibandze will design an entry strategy for creating a community center in his native country of Swaziland that will serve as a safe forum for Swazi youth to tackle the discrimination and exclusion of LGBTQ and other underserved communities.


Project Heart

Commitment by: Jared Moon, Milad Alucozai, David Rosenthal, and Gabriel Rangel

Schools: University of Iowa and Purdue University

Summary: These four young men will serve as capacity-building partners in the construction of a multipurpose, community-run facility in Gondar, Ethiopia. This facility will provide the local community with a much-needed diagnostic clinic, a water filtration center, and an educational model on food security.


Solar Dryers for Sustainable Farming and Food Security in Tanzania

Commitment by: Amanda Rees and Corinne Stephenson

School: Princeton University

Summary: This summer, Amanda Rees and Corinne Stephenson will travel to Tanzania to lead training workshops on how to build and operate solar drying units, which enable farmers to dehydrate and preserve otherwise perishable produce.


Bridging the Gap between the Community of Garden Grove and the Healthcare System

Commitment by: Rahaf Baker

School: University of California, Irvine

Summary: Rahaf Baker commits to opening a free clinic in Garden Grove, California that will provide culturally-conscious healthcare services to the historically underserved Asian and Latino populations in the area.


Healthy Girls Save the World: Participant Expansion

Commitment by: Camille McGirt

School: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Summary: In response to the increasing childhood obesity epidemic in the United States, Camille McGirt will launch three new chapters of her program, Healthy Girls Save the World, across the state of North Carolina.


Building with Bottles

Commitment by: Brett Perl

School: Carnegie Mellon University

Summary: Brett will create a sustainable business model for mobility-impaired individuals in need of employment in Port au Prince, Haiti. Building with Bottles will train these individuals to build functional stools out of disposed plastic bottles collected from the street, and then sell them for a profit.


The Dawes Arts Education Initiative

Commitment by: Brittney Gossett, Tim Brawner, and Natalie Micale

School: Nebraska Wesleyan University

Summary: To address the negative impact school funding cuts have had on arts education, Brittney Gossett, Tim Brawner, and Natalie Micale will create and run an after-school arts program for an underserved middle school in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Tu Gol

Commitment by: Andrés Osorio and Ana María Lazareff

School: Thunderbird School of Global Management

Summary: Andrés Osorio and Ana María Lazareff will partner with a local soccer academy in Bogotá, Colombia to inspire more Colombian youths to pursue secondary education.


Green for AAMU

Commitment by: Nara McCray, Samjulien Carlisle, and Brittany Boma

School: Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University

Summary: McCray, Carlisle, and Boma will tackle water waste head-on, by expanding their current campus awareness program through the end of the school year.


Community Interfaith Worm Project

Commitment by: Elizabeth Schmick and Beth Runcie

School: Des Moines University

Summary: Elizabeth Schmick and Beth Runcie will partner with faith-based organizations in Iowa and Oregon to create new income opportunities to unemployed community members.



Commitments by: Burcu Kilinc and Shai Tal

Schools: Istanbul Bilgi University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev

Summary: As teachers for the Mediterranean Youth Technology Club (MYTecC), Burcu Kilinc and Shai Tal will lead classes in their respective home countries of Turkey and Israel, to teach young students critical thinking and communications skills through interactive activities with students from neighboring countries in the Middle East.


Egyptians Speaking to Empower

Commitment by: Lamees El-sadek

School: Johns Hopkins University

Summary: This summer, Lamees El-sadek will travel to Cairo, Egypt to recruit a group of local high school students from diverse backgrounds to address social injustices through a photo documentation project.


The Hilltop Microfinance Initiative

Commitment by: Alex Honjiyo, Will Miller, and Craig Melcher

School: Georgetown University

Summary: As a solution to the high unemployment and poverty rates in Washington, D.C., Alex Honjiyo, Will Miller, and Craig Melcher will provide business education and microloans to low-income, minority entrepreneurs in the D.C. area, as part of their Hilltop Microfinance Initiative.


The Jiquilisco Inclusive Farmers Market

Commitment by: Ceferino Jandres

Summary: In his hometown of Jiquilisco, El Salvador, Ceferino Jandres will establish an inclusive famers market to create economic opportunities and security for rural farmers, and improve access to nutritious food for the entire community.


Girls Make Change through Engineering

Commitment by: Christine Schindler

School: Duke University

Summary: Christine Schindler will pair Duke engineering students with girls age 14 – 17 to complete Engineering World Health Kits to inspire these girls about opportunities in engineering while also making a difference in the world.



Commitment by: Annie Kennelly, Merissa Garvey, Laura Schmucker, and Alex Fortenko

School: The George Washington University

Summary:  Annie Kennelly, Merissa Garvey, Laura Schmucker, and Alex Fortenko will increase access to nutritious baby food for the marginalized neighborhood of Ward 8 in Washington, D.C., through community partnerships and mobile networks.



Commitment by:  Keep America Beautiful

Summary:  To combat the surge of waste produced by college students moving out at the end of the school year, Keep America Beautiful (KAB) will launch the MoveOut-Maynia pilot program at five colleges and universities in the KAB network. They will recruit facility personnel and engage student volunteers to promote and staff end-of-year recycling programs and help prevent recyclable materials from ending up in landfills.


HIA International Conference in Sarajevo

Commitment by: Humanity in Action

Summary: In 2012, Humanity in Action (HIA) will host its third annual HIA Conference and for the first time in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. This annual gathering brings together 250 young, established leaders, including 40 Bosnian students representing a cross-section of ethnic and religious communities, committed to promoting human rights, diversity and active citizenship around the world.


The following progress reports were announced for previously made commitments:


Environmental Education for the Next Generation (CGI U 2011)

Commitment by: Ryland King

School: University of California, Santa Barbara

Summary: Ryland King founded Environmental Education for the Next Generation (EENG) in 2009 to empower and educate youth on environmental issues by linking college volunteers with 1st and 2nd grade students. Out of more than 3,300 entries, EENG won $100,000 in a social media contest on Facebook, and has since expanded from teaching 25 students to over 2,500 students in four cities across California.


Empowerment through Integration (CGI U 2009)

Commitment by: Sara Minkara

School: Tufts University

Summary:  In 2009, Sara Minkara received the CGI U Outstanding Commitment Award for Empowerment through Integration when she opened Camp Rafiqi, an integrated summer camp in Tripoli, Lebanon. To combat the social stigma of blindness in Lebanon, Camp Rafiqi brings together sighted children with the visually impaired for an immersive experience that teaches confidence and growth in both groups.


Mission Aqua (CGI U 2011)

Commitment byRaghabendra KC

School: Rollins College

Summary: At CGI U 2011, Raghabendra KC of Mission Aqua and Rollins College met and partnered with fellow Nepalese students from Westminster College-Missouri and St. John’s College-New Mexico. The new team behind Mission Aqua received two Davis Project for Peace grants, which enabled them to successfully install water purifiers in 16 rural Nepalese schools, found a first-of-its-kind community center in the same rural area, and help set up a surgical health camp in Doti, Nepal, treating hundreds of patients.


BareAbundance (CGI U 2011)

Commitment by:  Jacquelyn Hoffman and Komal Ahmad

School: University of California, Berkeley

Summary: Since attending CGI U 2011, Jacquelyn Hoffman has led her organization BareAbundance to address food inequality in the Bay Area. BareAbundance has received grants from both UC Berkeley and the University’s Blum Center for Developing Economies helping them to launch both an undergraduate course teaching food justice awareness, and an afterschool nutrition education program at an elementary school in East Oakland.


South Asian Health Initiative (CGI U 2011)

Commitment by: Devesh Vashishtha and Arvin Wali

School: University of California, San Diego

Summary: In 2011, the South Asian Health Initiative (SAHI) committed to raising awareness in the South Asian community of the high prevalence of heart disease and hypertension among that group. Through health screenings at a cultural center in Irvine, California, SAHI has now shifted its emphasis towards engaging their screening patients in a dialogue about healthy lifestyle choices. They will launch a new screening site in San Diego, and plan to reach 1,000 total screenings by June 2012.


The Magazine and the Girl Effect: An Approach to Female Empowerment and Development in Sierra Leone (CGI U 2011)

Commitment by: Fatmata and Mariama Kabia

School: University of Pennsylvania

Summary: After civil war had a particularly devastating effect on the young female population in Sierra Leone, sisters Fatmata and Mariama Kabia committed to creating a unique, community-driven magazine for teenage girls in Sierra Leone that will promote literacy, female leadership, and economic development. Since participating in CGI U 2011, Fatmata and Mariama developed a clear business plan, conducted focus groups in Sierra Leone, and assembled an advisory board. The pilot issue of Memunatu Magazine will launch in April 2012.


Empowering Landfill Communities through Energy, Education, and Entrepreneurship (CGI U 2011)

Commitment by: Nasir Uddin

School: Rutgers University

Summary: At CGI U last year, Nassir Uddin committed to using a sustainable model to improve the lives of 2,000 waste-pickers living in the Matuail Landfill in Bangladesh. Uddin and the organization Em[POWER] conducted Participatory Action Research to understand the community’s needs, then applied their findings to the development of a short term implementation plan. Their pilot program will provide education, healthcare, and electricity to the landfill workers and children.


About CGI U
The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) challenges college students to address global issues with practical, innovative solutions. CGI U members do more than simply discuss problems – they take concrete steps to solve them by building relationships, creating action plans, participating in hands-on workshops, and following up with CGI U as they complete their projects. Their efforts have culminated in approximately 3,000 Commitments to Action. Previous CGI U meetings have taken place at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, and the University of California at San Diego, and have convened more than 3,500 students from 641 schools in 110 countries and all 50 states. The fifth annual CGI U meeting will be held at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. from March 30 – April 1, 2012. To learn more, visit

About the Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.

CGI’s Annual Meeting is held each September in New York City. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook

About the George Washington University
In the heart of the nation’s capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an act of Congress in 1821. Today, George Washington is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, it enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 130 countries.

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.

1 Comment



  1. Pingback: Craigslist from Ant Farms to Zookeepers

Any comments about this article?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s