Dec 22
December 22, 2016

A Year in Review: 11 Inspiring Moments from 2016


Since 2001, the Clinton Foundation has worked to improve lives around the world and build upon President Clinton’s legacy of public service. We believe that everybody deserves a chance to succeed, that we all do better when we help each other, and that if you think you can make a difference then you have an obligation to try.

In 2016, the spirit of partnership and collaboration was at the center of everything we did. These 11 inspiring moments and accomplishments below capture the fundamental principle that by working together — often in unexpected ways and with unexpected partners — we can achieve more and make a meaningful difference in someone’s life. Our team is inspired by what we’ve been able to accomplish in 2016, and we hope the moments below offer inspiration for the year ahead.

President Clinton’s challenge to young leaders: “Follow your heart as well as your head”

CGI U 2016 - Advice to 20 year old self

Every once in a while you hear an answer to a question that touches your heart. That happened at the ninth annual CGI University (CGI U) meeting at the University of California, Berkeley, this April, when President Clinton answered a student’s question, “What would you tell your 20-year-old self that many of us in the audience can also use in our lives?

More than 1.5 million people watched President Clinton’s response: “Never disempower yourself — that’s my advice. Follow your heart as well as your head and don’t disempower yourself. Don’t give up. Failure is not a crime. The failure to try, however, is.”

At CGI U, more than 1,200 college and university students from across the world made more than 900 Commitments to Action to address this generation’s most pressing challenges. These projects include efforts to create a food-sharing app to help low-income families, 24-hour centers to assist victims of gender-based violence in Pakistan; an algorithm to predict and monitor disease transmission in Brazil and Malaysia; and, coding workshops to increase employment opportunities for refugees.


Chelsea Clinton on saving lives: “No child should ever die because of an overdose”

Every 19 minutes, someone in the United States dies from prescription drug misuse. When an overdose occurs, every second counts. That’s why our Clinton Health Matters Initiative (Health Matters) works to make life-saving Naloxone, the reversal agent to opioid overdose, more accessible at discounted prices to those who can respond and intervene quickly in the event of an emergency or overdose, including first responders, college and university staff, public safety organizations, and community organizers.

As Chelsea Clinton said this year on The View, “No child should ever die because of an overdose in our country.” In 2016, Health Matters announced a new program with Adapt Pharma, Ltd. to offer a free carton of NARCAN® (naloxone hydrochloride) Nasal Spray to all high schools in the United States through the state departments of education. Since the first announcement, Adapt Pharma pledged to also make 25,000 cartons — or 50,000 doses — available to community first responders throughout the United States in collaboration with Health Matters and other partners. Read more from Refinery29 and U.S. News & World Report.

Rebuilding Detroit: Home ownership and stronger communities

Comeback Cities: President Bill Clinton – CGI America 2015

While Detroit boasts an abundant and affordable housing stock, qualified homebuyers are largely unable to find mortgages that cover both the appraised cost of the home and the often necessary renovation and repair costs — and, therefore, some people believe that Detroit’s single-family housing finance market is broken.

In February, we announced a CGI Commitment to Action that seeks to correct this market problem and make it easier for families to buy a home in Detroit. The Detroit Home Mortgage Initiative brought me together with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, and leaders from six local banks, nonprofit organizations, and the real estate industry for one common purpose: help 1,000 qualified homebuyers access mortgages to purchase a home and pay for necessary renovations over the next three years. Read our blog, The Atlantic’s CityLab, Next City, and The Detroit Free Press for a more comprehensive look into CGI’s involvement with this commitment.

Early childhood matters: Boosting development through play and culture

In 2016, Too Small to Fail (Too Small) continued its public awareness and action campaign to promote the importance of early brain and language development and to empower parents with tools to talk, read, and sing with their young children from birth. One of the strategies it uses is working with Hollywood writers and producers to integrate messaging about talking, reading and singing into their scripts and storylines. We’re proud that to date, an estimated 40 million viewers have seen research-based messaging on early brain development in shows like Law & Order: SVU, Jane the Virgin, and more.

Too Small also knows playtime is a perfect time for parents and children to bond. That’s why it is partnering with playground developers Shane’s Inspiration and Landscape Structures to integrate creative content with parent-child conversation prompts on panels and signage in playgrounds. To date, 20 playgrounds have integrated Too Small’s “Talking is Teaching” prompts. Read more about one playground in the Oakland community in The Atlantic.

Bipartisan leadership development: Strengthening American society for the future

The Clinton Presidential Center, George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation have partnered to cultivate the next generation of civic leaders through our shared Presidential Leadership Scholars Program. This program provides one-of-a-kind leadership development to individuals from the private, nonprofit, public, and military sectors who have a strong record of professional achievement, a commitment to their community, and a collaborative spirit that is open to new ideas about leadership.

In 2016, this unique bipartisan collaboration brought together members of the Little Rock Nine, as well as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President George W. Bush, and President Bill Clinton, in a discussion on leadership to celebrate the graduation of the second class of presidential scholars. Learn more about the program and hear directly from some of its graduates and what they aspire to achieve through public service, including BJ Goergen in the Huffington Post, Casey Gerald, Holly Gordon, and Jake Harriman.


Standing up for the rights of girls and women: the coalition grows

At the CGI Annual Meeting this September, Chelsea Clinton announced the launch of “Girls, Women, and the Global Goals,” a coalition of 30 partners, led by No Ceilings, Vital Voices, and WEConnect International, which put forward 24 individual CGI Commitments to Action to advance women’s economic participation, address violence against girls and women, and promote women’s leadership under the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.

As reported by Fortune Magazine, the collective impact of these commitments is estimated to reach 900,000 people in 60 countries around the world over the next five years. Read more about how this collaborative commitment to accelerate the pace of progress for girls and women worldwide came together on Medium.

Boosting small business: A fresh take on supermarkets and seafood in El Salvador

The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership’s (CGEP) Acceso Supply Chain Enterprise in El Salvador expanded its model from working with fruits and vegetable farmers, like Edgar Lemus featured above, to working with local fishermen associations. Acceso’s first fish & seafood display was made available in local supermarkets and quantities sold out.

Edgar is a powerful example of the impact this program can have on someone’s life, family, and community. Edgar Lemus is 47 years old and owns and operates a small farm in the highlands of El Salvador. After receiving training, quality seeds, and diversified crops from CGEP, Edgar’s monthly income bumped from $350 per month on average to $1,100 per month. Now, Edgar is focusing on expanding his production, as well as meeting his children’s education needs and his family’s overall hygiene needs.

Fighting childhood obesity: An “Explorer’s Grand Slam”

Colin O'Brady Speaking Reel

On the evening of January 10, 2016, elite endurance athlete Colin O’Brady reached the South Pole in Antarctica and officially began his journey for a world-record breaking mountaineering expedition — climbing the tallest peak on each continent as well as trekking to the North and South Poles, also known as the “Explorer’s Grand Slam.”

O’Brady’s goal in this expedition was not only to set a world record but also to help create sustainable change for kids by raising awareness and support for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The Alliance was founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation to empower kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits by having the environments that surround them provide and promote good health. In just 139 days, atop North America’s tallest mountain, Denali, Colin officially broke the seven summits speed record and became the person to complete the challenge in the fastest time. Watch highlights on CBS Sunday Morning, which caught up with him on the journey.

People like Colin O’Brady, as well as the thousands of teachers and volunteers across the country who participate in the Alliance’s healthy schools program, are a reminder of the incredible steps people take to make a difference for others. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation supports more than 20 million students by improving physical education, health education, child nutrition, and staff wellness policies and programs in nearly 35,000 schools across the country.

A new day for Haiti: Helping for women-owned businesses

The Clinton Foundation works alongside the people of Haiti and in partnership with public, private, and philanthropic organizations to foster sustainable economic development in agriculture, environment, energy, tourism, and artisans/manufacturing.

This year, we launched the Women’s Economic Participation Consortium, which includes nine women-owned businesses and two women-led agricultural cooperatives. Through the program, the women will receive tailored services and support from local and international partners, including Timberland, Fonkoze, and West Elm, to help grow their capacity, become investment-ready, and continue advancing the economic participation of women in Haiti’s economy.

Read more about how the Clinton Foundation works to strengthen opportunities for artisans, entrepreneurs, farmers and small-business owners in Haiti, and how it uniquely affects women, from Refinery29.

#GirlsAre strong: Breaking gender barriers and empowering young women

#GirlsAre Fearless, Aggressive, Powerful

There has never been a better time to be born female, and as athletes like Simone Biles, Abby Wambach, Mo’ne Davis, and Serena Williams illustrate — there’s never been a better time to compete as a female athlete.

However, research shows that girls today still enter sports at a later age and drop out at faster rates than their male counterparts. In 2016, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Health Matters, and No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project teamed up with more than 60 leaders in health, sports, and girls’ empowerment to combat stereotypes that keep girls on the sidelines and promote the message that #GirlsAre strong, capable, and ready to compete in sports and physical activity.

Read more from Chelsea Clinton in her exclusive essay for Women’s Health Magazine, as well as coverage from Woman’s Day. Jillian Michaels, Joy Bauer, Mo’ne Davis, and Bonnie Bernstein shared their personal stories and perspectives on Medium. And, we saw support on social media from many organizations like the Women’s Sports Foundation,, National Afterschool Association, Tony Hawk Foundation, Play Like a Girl!, The First Tee, US Soccer Foundation, SaludToday, and many more.

“You are living proof”: President Clinton hosts final Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting

This year marked the 12th and final CGI Annual Meeting. To close the meeting, President Clinton delivered a personal reflection on what the last 15 years of the Clinton Foundation have meant to him and discussed how CGI has helped redefine philanthropy.

The impact of CGI will continue through the work of CGI members who are implementing their Commitments to Action. Members discussed and announced new Commitments to Action to continue driving progress on issues like preventing the spread of Zika, addressing the refugee crisis in Syria, reducing violence against women in the developing world, peacebuilding in post-conflict areas, and strengthening business supply chains so that companies can do well by doing good. What started with 600 commitments in 100 countries in CGI’s first two years has since grown to more than 3,600 commitments spanning more than 180 countries, which will improve the lives of over 435 million people when fully funded and implemented.

Billboard celebrated President Clinton on the cover of their annual philanthropy issue and highlighted how the Foundation works with the entertainment community to maximize our reach and impact. Read their interview, Bill Clinton on Billboard Cover: Defends Clinton Foundation, Talks Good Works With Jon Bon Jovi & Music Biz, along with related coverage on how we work with “pop culture icons ranging from Bono to Elmo” here.