Photo: Adam Schultz
Apr 02
April 2, 2016

Highlights from CGI University 2016


This weekend, more than 1,200 college and university students from across the country and around the world attended the ninth annual CGI University (CGI U) meeting, held at the University of California, Berkeley. This year, student innovators made more than 900 Commitments to Action to address this generation’s most pressing challenges. CGI U attendees represented over 250 schools and 80 countries and came together at UC Berkeley to workshop their Commitments to Action, connect with fellow student innovators, and attend a variety of sessions.

New commitments this year include efforts to create 24-hour centers to assist victims of gender-based violence in Pakistan; use drones to monitor elephant poaching in Benin, Niger, and Burkina Faso; create an algorithm to predict and monitor disease transmission in Brazil and Malaysia; develop a $1 HIV test to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDs in Africa; and organize coding workshops to increase employment opportunities for refugees.

Below are some of the meeting's highlights--view more moments from the meeting on CGI U's Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can also watch full sessions at and view photos from CGI U 2016 on Flickr.

Friday, April 1 

Opening Plenary Session

Chelsea Clinton kicked off the Opening Plenary Session, “The Courage to Create,” which focused on the hurdles that often accompany great ideas and project implementation. President Bill Clinton moderated an exciting panel featuring Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Cady Coleman, Wael Ghonim, Salman Khan, and Ben Silbermann. Watch the full conversation at

Student Networking Reception

CGI U 2016 students attended the Student Networking Reception, where they exchanged ideas, experiences, and advice—learning from one another to strengthen their Commitments to Action, form partnerships, and amplify the positive impact of their work.

XQ WE THINK Cube Video Booth

Throughout the day, CGI U participants visited the XQ WE THINK Cube Video Booth, an open call to share ideas on how we can reimagine high school to better prepare students for their futures.

Saturday, APRIL 2

Morning Plenary Session

Day two of CGI U 2016 began with a powerful Plenary Session, Stronger Together: Moving from Conflict to Cooperation, moderated by VICE Media’s Gianna Toboni. Panelists, including Obiageli Ezekwesili, Congressman John Lewis, Abuzar Royesh, and Maysoon Zayid, discussed how to combat the ongoing discrimination against vulnerable groups by turning to cooperation and promoting opportunity for all. 

2016 Working Sessions and Skill Sessions

CGI U student innovators attended a wide variety of Working Sessions spanning CGI U’s five focus areas. Sessions included Educating Refugees and Children in Crisis, Expanding the Circular Economy, the Gentrification Debate, Big Data and Human Rights in the Digital Age, and more. Skill Sessions supported student Commitment to Action efforts through topics such as Monitoring and Evaluating Your Results and Strengthening Organizational Capacity. This year, CGI U introduced a new Skill Session—Design Swarm, a two-part collaborative problem-solving process during which small teams prototyped solutions to a design challenge focused on rain water collection and water filtration.

CGI partnered with Refinery29 on the session Mental Health Care: Fighting Stigma with Social Support, with speakers, Khaliya, Lauren Carson, and Kimberly Wayne. 

Afternoon Plenary Session

In the afternoon Plenary Session, Beyond Good Intentions: Designing for Unintended Consequences, Chelsea Clinton spoke with Mohamed Barrie, Catlin Powers, Premal Shah, Rajiv Shah, and Laura Tyson. During the session, Chelsea announced the Clinton Foundation Impact Library, a resource of curated articles, blog posts, toolkits, guides, and case studies.

Closing Conversation with Conan

To conclude the weekend programming, Conan O’Brien hosted a closing conversation with President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, which covered everything from the President’s idea for a new Commitment to Action to Conan’s approach to comedic diplomacy. CGI U students also had the opportunity to ask questions from the audience.

Chelsea Clinton announced the 20 winning teams of the Resolution Project and the winner of the CGI U 2016 Commitments Challenge—Tameem Addeeb of DePaul University for his commitment FutureBox. For the first time ever, the Clinton Foundation #codeforimpact Codeathon ended in a tie—between winning teams Quokka and Be Well. This year's Codeathon challenged student designers from across disciplines to build original prototypes to promote emotional wellness on campus.

CGI U Exchange and Dinner

To wrap up an action-packed day of CGI U 2016, select exhibitors presented their Commitments to Action at the CGI U Exchange.

Sunday, April 3

Day of Action

To conclude the CGI U 2016 meeting, student volunteers joined together for a CGI U tradition: the Day of Action. This year’s event, developed in partnership with the Oakland Unified School District and the Oakland Public Education Fund, was held at the Havenscourt-Lockwood Campus, which houses five separate schools ranging from preschool to high school in Oakland, California. President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Marshawn Lynch, and Joshua Johnson welcomed students to the Havenscourt-Lockwood campus to kick off the day’s events. CGI U students and volunteers then worked on a variety of neighborhood and school improvement activities, including urban agriculture, mural painting, and athletic facility cleanup. For more photos click here.