Each year, over 1,000 students from around the world attend CGI University (CGI U) and make specific Commitments to Action. These commitments are innovative and practical plans that address some of the most pressing social, economic, and environmental concerns of the Millenial generation. The 2015 CGI U meeting will be held at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida from March 6-8, 2015—undegraduate and graduate students can apply now.
Here are 10 stories of how CGI U students are making good on their commitments to improve their communities and their world:
Nutrition and Fitness
At CGI U 2014, Gavin Armstrong presented The Lucky Iron Fish as an effective and affordable solution to the high prevalence of iron deficiency in Kandal, Cambodia. Used during meal preparation, this fish-shaped block releases up to 75 percent of a person’s daily required iron into food and drinking water. By locally manufacturing the fish using recycled material, Gavin aims to promote skill development and stimulate economic growth.
Progress Update: At the CGI Annual Meeting, The Lucky Iron fish connected with a major retailer and a major garment manufacturer and is now exploring the many partnerships that can be formed with these two groups.
In 2013, Arnav Dalmia committed to develop an inexpensive, compact fitness device to address health issues exacerbated by all-too-common sedentary jobs. Under the brand Fitness Cubed, Arnav introduced Cubii—a lightweight, portable, under-the-desk elliptical machine meant to facilitate exercise while working, providing an answer to the “sitting disease.”
Progress Update: FitnessCubed was recently selected as the North American champion for the Startup Weekend Competition organized by Sunbridge Capital, which resulted in an opportunity to visit Tokyo and present the company. The company was also featured on NBC Chicago.
In the Classroom
In 2012, Khalil Fuller committed to improve math proficiency of low-income middle school students in the United States, while also changing their attitudes toward the subject itself. Khalil developed NBA Math Hoops—a board game connected with a mobile app that allows students to gain fundamental math skills through direct engagement with real NBA and WNBA statistics. To date, Khalil’s NBA Hoops Classroom Kits have been distributed to more than 30,000 students, who have collectively solved more than nine million math problems.
Progress Update: Khalil has graduated from Brown University and is now working on his commitment on a full-time basis. The scale of NBA Math Hoops has grown to reach over 40,000 students across the country.
Christine Schindler’s 2012 commitment, Girls Engineering Change, brings together female Duke engineering students with girls between the ages of 14 to 17 to assemble engineering world health kits and gain a more tangible sense of the practical ways in which engineers can make a difference in the lives of others.
Progress Update: The organization is now an official nonprofit with both an executive team and a board of directors.
Report and Recover
Chazz Simms and his team attended CGI U 2013, where they committed to design a smartphone application that encourages citizens to report crimes in real-time.
Progress Update: Thus far, the team has piloted their app with local community members in Iraq and in conjunction with a large festival in Denmark.
At CGI U 2011, Agnes Igoye pledged to create a rehabilitation center in Uganda for orphans who are victims of human trafficking, rape, or abduction. She has since launched an organization called Chain of Hope, which houses and cares for 75 victims of human trafficking and has trained more than 1,000 officials involved in law enforcement from Uganda, Sudan, and Somalia.
Progress Update: The rehabilitation center has cared for over 100 child survivors and the organization has trained over 1,500 law enforcement officials. Agnes has also founded the Huts For Peace program to rebuild war torn communities in Northern Uganda. From this, 22 extended families and over 100 orphaned children have benefited, including survivors of abudction by the Lord's Resistance Army. Recently, Agnes was awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals at the University of Minnesota.
Skills for Women and Girls
Sahadev Rai, a CGI U 2013 commitment-maker, has focused his efforts on teaching women in the war-torn Kot region of Nepal about cash crop production. Through his Yang-Ward Foundation, Sahadev has helped residents create profitable jobs, while also raising money for computer labs and libraries in local schools.
Progress Update: The Yang-Ward Foundation implemented a “goat farming” project in the northern part of Nepal in Jiri, Dolakha. Eight female goats were provided and within a year, profits from the sales of baby goats will pay generous wages to the women involved. Part of the profits will also be invested in Mathillo Sikiri primary school, which will create scholarships for underprivileged girls.
In 2009, Ximena Murillo committed to create local community centers for women from mining towns in Bolivia so that they could be trained on topics such as legal rights, job skills, and literacy. Ximena has since started a study abroad program for graduate students interested in the effort, as well as a nonprofit organization through which 100 women have already completed her training program.
Progress Update: Women who have completed the training program are about to launch their first micro-enterprise. The micro-enterprise will export high quality Alpaca products in 2015 to the U.S. and European markets. In addition, the successful model was brought to other mining communities and implemented in places such as Tanzania.
Expanding Local Markets
At CGI U 2014, Sydney Hulebak committed to create jobs for Ugandan women who are crafting bowties from locally-sourced materials. Sydney’s Lion’s Thread is now selling these products online. All profits go back into the local community and fund the workers’ own ventures and retirement plans.
Progress Update: Lion’s Thread has moved into their first production space, which adequately houses all nine artisans, helps foster a sense of community among the women, provides electricity and relief from the Ugandan heat, and allows for increased production and lower margins of error. Additionally, the social enterprise is beginning a women's empowerment initiative that will provide entrepreneurial, financial, and computer literacy classes, as well as access to a savings account and comprehensive healthcare plan.
Christine Souffrant’s CGI U 2014 commitment gives street vendors from around the world an international customer base through Vendedy. Originally working with Haitian artisans, Christine has recently partnered with IBM Brazil to develop a mobile app so that vendors can more easily collect orders and ship artwork from their local communities.
Progress Update: Vendedy has been offered an investment for the startup to scale across 24 countries in the Caribbean and has been featured in several publications, such as the Guardian, Hult Newsroom, The New Quo, and Social Enterprise Hive. Vendedy is looking forward to a November launch of the mobile app in Haiti.
Apply to attend the eighth CGI U meeting to be held at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida from March 6-8, 2015. All undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to apply. The final application deadline is December 1, 2014.