March 14, 2014
Mar 14

16 Student Teams Advance to Compete in the Clinton Global Initiative University 2014 Commitments Challenge

New York, NY
Press Release

Arizona State University, Cornell University, Fashion Institute of Technology, Georgia Regents University, Kirkwood Community College, Mount Holyoke College, Mount Hood Community College, New College of Florida, Northcentral Technical College, Purdue University, Stanford University, St. Cloud State University, University of Central Florida , University of Texas, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Washington University in St. Louis among schools competing

Competing student teams have already raised more than $14,000 through CrowdRise to put their ideas into action; Final four student teams to receive $1,250 in funding, and winner to receive $5,000

New York, NY – Today, the top 16 Commitments to Action that will comprise the “bracket” for the fourth annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Commitments Challenge were announced. The Challenge is a competition of college and university student Commitments to Action – new, specific, and measurable plans to address a pressing challenge.

This year, CGI U has partnered with CrowdRise to power the Challenge; student teams compete against each other by raising funds for their commitments. Similar to the NCAA "March Madness" tournament, teams who raise the most money for their commitments each round will advance to the next round.

The top four projects will each receive $1,250, and the winner of the bracket will receive an additional $5,000, made possible by Craig Newmark, founder of and craigconnects. The public can donate to their favorite CGI U 2014 commitment at

The winner will be announced during the seventh annual meeting of CGI U, to be held at Arizona State University from March 21-23. More than 1,000 students representing more than 300 universities and 75 countries will be in attendance.

The 2014 CGI U Commitments Challenge Rounds:

  • ROUND ONE: March 10 at 12:00 PM ET – March 13 at 2:59 PM ET
  • TOP SIXTEEN: March 14 at 12:00 PM ET – March 17 at 2:59 PM ET
  • TOP EIGHT: March 18 at 12:00 PM ET – March 19 at 2:59 PM ET
  • TOP FOUR: March 20 at 12:00 PM ET – March 21 at 11:59 AM ET
  • CHAMPIONSHIP: March 21 at 4:00 PM ET – March 22 at 3:59 PM ET
  • The final round of voting will end Saturday, March 22 at 3:59 PM ET

The CGI U 2014 program will feature sessions that will examine issues throughout CGI U’s five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health. Throughout the meeting, students will engage in various topic- and skill-based sessions, which will empower them to get involved with solving major global challenges while they’re still in school. For the complete schedule, visit

The student commitments being featured in the CGI U 2014 Commitments Challenge include:

Replicate the SailFuture
Commitment By: Michael Long
School: New College of Florida

In 2014, Michael Long committed to provide sailing and mentorship to 20 at-risk youth in Sarasota, Florida through replicating and expanding his organization SailFuture. Through one-one-one mentorship, exposure to educational and professional opportunities, tutoring, and workshops in life skills, Michael aims to empower youth to break through cyclical barriers and achieve their goals.

Scholars Working Ambitiously to Graduate (SWAG)
Commitment by: Thaddeus Talbot; Kendrick Coq; Channing McNeal
School: Cornell University

In 2014, Thaddeus Talbot, Kendrick Coq, and Channing McNeal committed to increase the graduation rate of African American males at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York through a peer mentoring program. The team will offer academic enrichment, professional development, and community building to 100 students in the program and hopes to increase the graduation rate of African American males from 80% to 90% by 2015.

Standard Hydro
Commitment By: Lucien Charland; Charlene Kormondy
School: University of Central Florida

In 2014, Lucien Charland and Charlene Kormondy committed to offset climate-based threats to agriculture in Charlestown, a water-scarce town in St. Kitts and Nevis, by constructing a hydroponic shade house training facility. The team will partner with the University of Central Florida and local community groups to build a sustainable hydroponics facility that will offer practical hydroponics training workshops.

Commitment By: Juliet Martinez; Bryan Azeka
School: Arizona State University

In 2014, Juliet Martinez and Bryan Azeka committed to foster education and alleviate poverty in low-income areas of Mesa, Arizona by bringing climate-controlled, recycled shipping containers to Mesa. To do this, Juliet and Bryan will partner with the Arizona State University College of Technology and Innovation and the Chandler Innovation Center.

Saint Cloud Inclusive Playground
Commitment By: Kelsey Stenger; Chelsea Swiggum; Amy Hansen; Jodi Orcutt
School: St. Cloud State University

In 2014, Kelsey Stenger, Chelsea Swiggum, Amy Hansen, and Jodi Orcutt committed to invest in the future of children with disabilities by building an all-inclusive playground in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The playground will be the first of its kind to provide recreational opportunities and a collaborative space for individuals and families with disabilities.

FIT Rooftop Natural Dye Garden
Commitment By: Caitlin Powell; Amber Harkonen; Meghan Navoy
School: Fashion Institute of Technology

In 2014, Caitlin Powell, Amber Harkonen, and Meghan Navoy committed to start a dye-plant garden on the rooftop of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City to educate students on the benefits of natural dyes. The group plans to hold workshops to raise climate change awareness and encourage students to move away from harmful dye practices. 

Stay in Touch
Commitment By: Daniel Feinberg; Caitlin Lee; Madelyn Welsh
School: Washington University in St. Louis

In 2014, Daniel Feinberg, Caitlin Lee, and Madelyn Welsh committed to assist people in finding out if their loved ones are okay after a disaster by creating a texting service to allow individuals to check into the service via a text message. The team will work with phone companies and a texting service design company to launch the system in 2014 in as many languages as possible.

Community Power from Hydropower Systems: A Capacity Building Project
Commitment By: Patrick Pawletko; Eleni Bardaka
School: Purdue University

In 2014, Patrick Pawletko and Eleni Bardaka committed to build a locally-sourced, locally-fabricated, financially-sustainable micro-hydropower plan in Bangang, a remote village in Cameroon. They will work to upgrade a local micro-hydro plant with innovative engineering techniques to reduce operation costs. They will partner with the Purdue University and the African Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology to develop a robust power control system.

BioPrinting: A New Technology to Curing Disabilities
Commitment By: Anjan Katta; Nattapoom Asavareongchai
School: Stanford University

In 2014, Anjan Katta and Nattapoom Asavareongchai committed to cure mobility disabilities by creating a Bio 3-D Printer that will produce cartilage and tendons in an effective and affordable way. Anjan and Nattapoom will partner with the Stanford Medical School to build the technology and will test the technology in formal laboratories and clinical trials to ensure it is safe for use, aiming to begin assisting mobility-impaired individuals by January 2015.

WI P2D2 (WI Prescription Pill & Drug Disposal)
Commitment by: Jordyn Schara
School: University of Wisconsin - Madison

In 2014, Jordyn Schara committed to reduce groundwater contamination and prescription drug abuse by helping communities properly dispose of their medication at a 24/7 prescription drug collection center. Jordyn originally launched the first of her 10 drug collection centers at the age of 14 in Madison, Wisconsin, but she aims to expand the program and have 10 additional centers outside of Wisconsin by 2015.

Reducing Heat Island Effect by Increasing Vegetation 
Commitment By: Ariel Rodriguez
School: Mt. Hood Community College

In 2014, Ariel Rodriguez committed to reduce the heat island effect in Agua Caliente, Honduras through reforestation by planting 3,400 mango trees in the community. The mango trees will increase the tree canopy from 20 percent to 90 percent, mitigating high temperatures, by the end of 2020. Rodriguez will work with 40 families and will partner with community leaders to create a local committee to plant the trees on 100 acres of land by the end of 2015.

Commitment By: Yeny Garcia
School: Northcentral Technical College

In 2014, Yeny Garcia committed to create a youth empowerment program to help young orphaned girls in Copan, Hondorus develop independent living skills to prepare them as they age out of the orphanage.  Yeni will host workshops on financial literacy, job training, interpersonal relationships, and empowerment at the Amparo San Antonio orphanage in Copan, Honduras.

Pure Water Cure
Commitment By: David Gonzalez
School: Kirkwood Community College

In 2014, David Gonzalez committed to bring potable water to La Mosquitia, El Salvador by building bio-sand filters for 20 local families.  He hopes the filters will help prevent illnesses caused by poor water quality, and plans to partner with local organizations to bring bio-sand filters to additional local families by October 2015.

Commitment By: Saumya Dave
School: Georgia Regents University

In 2014, Saumya Dave committed to improve maternal health in Molii, a village outside Niamey, Niger by empowering local women to make nutritional bars for expecting mothers. The bars will be made of non-perishable ingredients that contain nutrients essential for a healthy pregnancy, such as almonds, dates, fennel, and corn cereal. Saumya will train the women to make and sell the nutrition bars in 2014.

Improved Energy Access through Biomass Briquettes 
Commitment By: Prarthana Bhattarai
School: Mount Holyoke College

In 2014, Prarthana Bhattarai committed to provide access to a healthier and more efficient energy source to 20 women in the Kottandi village in Nepal by training them to manufacture biomass briquettes using a local shrub that damages grazing lands and natural forests. This initiative will both reduce their dependance on firewood for household needs and also help in controlling the spread of this shrub, contributing to local forest conservation.

Commitment By: Steven Lyons
School: University of Texas

In 2014, Steven Lyons committed to reduce electric usage in Austin, Texas by developing a brand of shoes that self-generate energy. Steven will develop a prototype that is functional, fashionable, and easy to produce and will partner with local manufacturers to make his product available throughout Austin in 2014. He hopes to distribute shoes to small farmers in Karnataka, India by 2015.

Media registration is now open. To apply, please complete the form at The deadline to apply for press credentials is Wednesday, March 19 at 6 PM MT. Journalists may apply for credentials on-site, but space is limited and pre-registered media will be given priority. For questions about press registration, please email [email protected].

Follow us on Twitter at @CGIU and @ClintonGlobal or on Facebook at for meeting news and highlights. The official meeting hashtag is #CGIU. Plenary sessions will also be live streamed during the meeting at

Rules for the CGI U Commitments Challenge can be found here:

# # #

Learn more about our work at, on Facebook at and on Twitter @ClintonFdn.

About CrowdRise
CrowdRise is a crowd-funding platform for people and organizations to raise support for charitable causes. CrowdRise’s core principles are that people have unprecedented power to use the power of networks to leverage their personal capacity and that raising money for charity and giving back should be fun. CrowdRise’s custom-built platform and game theory, as well as the company’s proven record of designing innovative crowd-funding strategies, provide individual fundraisers, charities, and events with powerful tools to raise the most money for their causes and share compelling philanthropic stories with their personal networks. The site lets anyone turn their friends into an active base of donors for any cause and lets any organization, company, or event unlock untapped leverage out of their existing platform.

CrowdRise topped Mashable’s list of “Most Innovative Crowdfunding Platforms” and was named a “Top 25 Best Global Philanthropist” by Barron’s. CrowdRise was founded by actor and activist Edward Norton, producer Shauna Robertson, and the founders of Moosejaw, Robert and Jeffrey Wolfe. Thousands of charitable organizations, events, celebrities, and everyday donors have made CrowdRise their philanthropic base for giving back.