April 2, 2016
Apr 02

More than 900 New Student Commitments to Action Announced at Ninth Annual CGI University Meeting

Berkeley, CA
Press Release

President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton conclude Clinton Global Initiative University 2016 at UC Berkeley, engaging more than 1,200 student leaders on Education, Poverty Alleviation, Peace and Human Rights, Public Health, and Environment and Climate Change

Throughout the weekend, college students joined experts, entrepreneurs, and civically engaged celebrities such as Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Founder, Editor-in-Chief, MuslimGirl.net; Elias N. Bou Saab, Minister of Education and Higher Education, Lebanon; Kate Brandt, Lead for Sustainability, Google; Catherine Coleman, Astronaut, NASA; Obiageli Ezekwesili, Senior Economic Advisor, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI); Wael Ghonim, Internet Activist, Co-Founder, Parlio; Haben Girma, Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Advocates; Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Salman Khan, Founder and CEO, Khan Academy; Congressman John Lewis, Georgia's 5th Congressional District Representative; Laura Ling, Director of Development & Host, Discovery Digital Networks’ Seeker; Marshawn Lynch, NFL All-Pro and Co-Founder, Fam 1st Family Foundation; Janet Napolitano, President, University of California; Conan O’Brien, Host, “CONAN”; Libby Schaaf, Mayor, Oakland, California; Ben Silbermann, Co-Founder, CEO of Pinterest; and Maysoon Zayid, Disability Advocate, Co-Founder, New York Arab American Comedy Festival.

This weekend, more than 1,200 college and university students from across the country and around the world came together at the University of California, Berkeley for the ninth annual CGI University (CGI U) meeting, making more than 900 Commitments to Action to address this generation’s most pressing challenges.

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.

"You can’t create a perfect world, you can only create a better world, but you can make it better every day,” said President Clinton during an interview with Conan O’Brien during the closing plenary. “What we try to do here at CGI U is bring people together so that they can discuss ideas and come up with commitments to change the future.”

“We believe that no one is ever too old or too young to make a difference. The earlier we start, the more likely we are to find the right partners and the better chance we have of making the positive difference we feel called to do,” said Chelsea Clinton. “We believe this so strongly, in part, because of the legacy of CGI U and the impact that we’ve seen so many of our students have already."

Chelsea Clinton also revealed the winner of the CGI U 2016 Commitments Challenge, a national online competition of new commitment ideas from college and university students in the form of a “bracket.” The competition began on March 1, during which students received private donations from supporters around the world through CrowdRise. In total, students raised more than $31,000 for their commitments. The winning commitment is FutureBox by Tameem Addeeb of DePaul University, which raised over $10,400.

In the lead up to the CGI U meeting, on March 31 and April 1, students had the opportunity to participate in a two-day “Code for Impact” event in partnership with the Clinton Health Matters Initiative. The Codeathon challenged student designers from across disciplines to build original prototypes to promote emotional wellness on campus. After the teams presented their prototypes to a panel of expert judges that included Chelsea Clinton, Laura Quintana of Cisco, and Kiah Williams of SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine). The winning teams, recognized at the closing plenary, are Quokka and Be Well.

  • Quokka, named after the “happiest animal in the world,” is an app to help freshman students who moved to campus from a different city or country to acclimate to their new environment. Quokka uses a dual approach of journaling and personalized recommendations to give the 80% of students experiencing daily stress the tools they need to integrate good mental health practices into their new campus experience. The winning team members include Vijay Edupuganti, Gwen Yi Wong, Clementine Haimeng Zhang, Viraj Mahesh, George Shaikouski, Danielle Elizabeth Harris, and Sydney Wang.
  • Be Well is a holistic platform that enables users to reflect on their emotional well-being and interact with others in the same emotional state. The application addresses the problem of isolation by using a platform centered on creating authentic human interactions. The winning team members include Navgeet King Zed, Amy Miao, Chadwick Maycumber, Hoaithi Le Dang, Rediet Yibekal Wegayehu, and Kristy Liao.

This year, through the CGI University Network, the Resolution Project Social Venture Challenge, and other opportunities, $1,000,000 in funding opportunities were made available to CGI U 2016 students to help them turn their ideas into action. This summer, CGI U will launch the Innovation Fund competition, which will invite young social innovators from around the world to submit their Commitments to Action online to the competition. Through this challenge, winning students will receive seed funding for their commitments, and will then be invited to attend the CGI U 2017 meeting.

This weekend also marked the launch of the Impact Library, a new website designed for the CGI community, development practitioners, and others interested in the social impact sphere. This new digital platform aims to share knowledge and data to drive effective results across all stages of project development and implementation.

Support for CGI U 2016 is generously provided by: Ambassador Gianna Angelopoulos, Richard C. Blum, Laureate International Universities, The MasterCard Foundation, Andy Nahas and the Prospect Fund, Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Ramsey Social Justice Foundation, and XQ Institute.

On Sunday, April 3, President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton will lead CGI U students in a Day of Action, a service project in partnership with the Oakland Unified School District and the Oakland Public Education Fund at the Havenscourt and Lockwood Campuses in Oakland, California. CGI U students and members of the CGI community will work with several community-based organizations on activities ranging from planting trees, to organizing libraries, to mural painting. This will be the ninth Day of Action at a CGI U meeting and will begin with remarks by President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton. Marshawn Lynch, NFL All-Pro and Co-Founder of Fam 1st Family Foundation, and Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland, California, will join President Clinton and Chelsea at the event.

Founded and led by Chelsea Clinton in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Clinton Foundation Day of Action program seeks to create service opportunities and mobilize thousands of volunteers to give back to their communities. To date, the Clinton Foundation has hosted 28 Days of Action in the United States and abroad, which have mobilized more than 5,700 volunteers and donated more than 24,000 volunteer hours.

Follow @CGIU for meeting news and highlights. The event hashtag is #CGIU.

**The following new commitments and progress reports were announced in CGI U 2016 plenary sessions:

New CGI U 2016 Commitments

Violence Against Women Centres (VAWC)
According to the Clinton Foundation’s 2015 No Ceilings Full Participation Report, nearly one in three women around the world has suffered physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. While gender-based violence is an epidemic of global proportions, certain communities are particularly vulnerable, such as Pakistan. That’s why this year Hafsah Lak committed to provide protection and health care to female victims of violence and to investigate crimes and rehabilitate victims in Pakistan, her home country. She will open 24-hour facilities run by women to provide first-aid and medical exams, crime reporting, lodging, legal aid, forensics recovery, and post-trauma rehabilitation to victims of violence.

A Biodiversity Conservation Program with Anti-poaching Drone
At this year’s CGI U meeting, Abdelaziz Lawani has committed to use drones to identify and fight illegal unsustainable practices affecting biodiversity in WAP, one of Africa’s largest protected wildlife and conversation reserves spanning parts of Benin, Niger, and Burkina Faso. Despite its status as a protected environment, the area still faces significant threats such as human encroachment and illegal poaching. Abdelaziz will use drones to monitor poaching, uncontrolled bushfires, agricultural encroachments, unsustainable harvesting of Non Timber Forest Products, and fish overexploitation, and the data will be publically available on social media to help generate awareness to protect WAP.

Progress Reports from Past CGI U Commitments

Colibrì (formerly SolarRoute)
At CGI U 2015, Morgan Babbs created Colibrì, a social enterprise working to expand access to solar power in Nicaragua. Working with local businesses and community leaders, Colibrì taps into existing distribution channels to bring a variety of solar-powered products to low-income communities living outside Nicaragua’s energy grid. Last year alone, Colibri raised over $100,000 in funding, established over 50 sales points, and sold its products to more than 2,500 people. In the next three years, they plan to bring solar energy to more than 20,000 households to help save low-income households a total of nearly $10 million.

Herbs for Change (formerly Herbs Cooperative for Economic Empowerment)
At CGI U 2015, Sharif Shrestha and Surya Karki committed to start a local, self-sustaining herb cooperative to help alleviate poverty in the remote village of Mude, Nepal. To date, Herbs for Change has established two swertia herb nurseries covering 15 acres of communal land and employing 25 farmers. The nurseries are equally owned by men and women, and since working there, the farmers have increased their weekly incomes by more than 75%. They are now preparing for their first harvest in May, which is estimated to increase the farmers’ income by over 200%.

The African Research Academy for Women (ARA-W)
At CGI U 2015, Efe Ghanney and her team committed to create the African Research Academies for Women (ARA-W) to help close the gender gap in Africa’s STEM research pipeline. To date, ARA-W has provided mentorship and training for 15 young women, and have begun forming strategic partnerships with research institutions across Africa and overseas. To further widen the pipeline, ARA-W is initiating efforts to include STEM research as a component of Ghana’s year of required national civil service.

At CGI U 2015, Yitaek Hwang and his team committed to develop a pair of glasses that could be cheaply distributed without the need for traditional modes of prescription and delivery to increase access to vision care in the developing world. ViFlex has since distributed glasses in eight countries across four continents and hopes to expand to more communities in the next year. Yitaek and Nathan successfully fundraised $5,000 through an Indiegogo campaign, and will soon finalize an injection molding deal to move past 3D printing as the primary means of manufacturing.

Think of Us: An Online Platform for Youth Development
At CGI U 2015, Sixto Cancel committed to create an online platform hosting virtual content and coaching to help youth create positive life outcomes in the United States. The website has now been launched and Sixto has hired six people and has 10 students working for him to earn college credit. He received his first grant of $75,000 from Annie E. Casey and is hoping to partner with the Pritzker Foundation to plan a conference focused on technology and youth in foster care.


About Clinton Global Initiative University
The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), a program of the Clinton Global Initiative, brings together college students to address global challenges with practical, innovative solutions. CGI U participants do more than simply discuss problems – they take concrete steps to solve them by creating action plans, building relationships, participating in hands-on workshops, and following up with CGI U as they complete their projects. Since 2008, students have made more than 6,000 Commitments to Action. Previous CGI U meetings have taken place at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, the University of California at San Diego, the George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Arizona State University, and have convened more than 8,700 students from over 925 schools, 145 countries, and all 50 states. To learn more, visit cgiu.org.

For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.