March 23, 2014
Mar 23

President Clinton, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton Conclude Seventh Clinton Global Initiative University with 695 New Student Commitments to Action

Phoenix, AZ
Press Release

Commitments to address some of Generation Y’s biggest social, economic, and environmental concerns

PHOENIX – President Bill Clinton, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton concluded the seventh annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), with a conversation with Jimmy Kimmel, Host and Executive Producer, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” The meeting was dedicated to empowering the next generation of leaders to solve the world’s most pressing global challenges. More than 1,000 students, from nearly 300 colleges and universities, all 50 states, and more than 80 countries came together at Arizona State University and made 695 Commitments to Action: specific, measurable plans to address pressing challenges facing campuses and communities around the world.

Commitments from this year’s meeting ranged a broad spectrum of global challenges. A student from University of Guelph will produce sustainable and affordable cooking devices made from iron to combat iron deficiency in Cambodians, ultimately hoping to distribute 10,000 of these this year and 50,000 by 2015. Students from Cornell University will combat the low retention and graduation rates among African-American men through a peer mentoring program. In total, since CGI U was first held in 2008, students have made approximately 4,800 commitments.  

“Changing the world is a group enterprise,” said President Clinton. “Positive networks of cooperation can do anything, and the more than 1,000 students who attended CGI U this year are proof of that. I look forward to seeing how this year’s commitments will have an impact on their campuses, in their communities, and around the world.”

“What we've seen in the work done by the students who come to CGI U is that it is possible to change the world through your participation,” said Secretary Clinton. “Because of Commitments To Action made at CGI U last year alone, nearly 50,000 people have gained access to health care and social services. More than 23,000 have received mentoring and training. Students have established more than 200,000 square feet of community gardens, and so much more.”

“I was deeply inspired by the many catalytic new ideas I heard over the last two days,” said Chelsea Clinton. “The energy, enthusiasm, and optimism of the students who attended was evident, and I’m confident that their commitments will have a lasting impact.”

Yesterday, results from the CGI University-Microsoft Pulse on America survey were released, showing Millennials have a trust in technology and that education, the economy, and human rights are their top-ranked concerns, which many student commitments reflect this year. Of the Millennials polled, 62% said that it is likely that their generation “is better equipped to handle the greatest issues facing society”; 72% said that is a result of “access to better technology”; and 79% said that they are “optimistic about the direction of their local community.”

Also, at yesterday’s closing plenary, Chelsea Clinton revealed the winner of the CGI U 2014 Commitments Challenge, a national online competition of new commitment ideas from college and university students in the form of a “bracket.” Voting began on March 10, receiving donations from around the world for voters’ favorite Commitment to Action. In total, students raised more than $60,000 for their commitments. The top four projects each received $1,250, and the winner of the bracket received an additional $5,000, made possible by Craig Newmark, founder of and craigconnects. Washington University in St. Louis students Daniel Feinberg, Caitlin Lee, and Madelyn Welsh won with their commitment, “Stay in Touch,” a texting service to help locate missing loved ones in the aftermath of disasters.  

This year, more than $750,000 in funding was available for CGI U attendees. The funding marks the largest sum in the meeting’s history, including $650,000 from the growing CGI University Network of more than 55 colleges and universities and another $100,000 through the Resolution Project Social Venture Challenge, a competition between aspiring student entrepreneurs with sustainable enterprises.

Chelsea Clinton also announced the University of Texas-Pan American as the winning team of the $10,000 cash prize in the Up to Us competition, launched by CGI U, Net Impact, and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to increase awareness among young people of America’s fiscal issues. Additionally, she announced the Resolution Project Social Venture Challenge winners.

On the final day of CGI University today, students gathered in downtown Phoenix for the Clinton Foundation’s ninth Day of Action. The morning of community service was in collaboration with PHX Renews, a partnership between the City of Phoenix and Keep Phoenix Beautiful that aims to transform previously vacant lots in the city into vibrant and sustainable public spaces. To kick off the Day of Action, Chelsea Clinton and President Bill Clinton were joined by the Mayor of Phoenix Greg Stanton, and Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and Former Astronaut Mark Kelly.

Throughout the weekend, students joined experts, entrepreneurs, and civically engaged celebrities such as Bill Drayton, Chief Executive Officer, Ashoka; Jimmy Kimmel, Host and Executive Producer, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”; John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona; Cindy Hensley McCain, Founding Member, Eastern Congo Initiative; Reeta Roy, President and Chief Executive Officer, The MasterCard Foundation; María Elena Salinas, Anchor, Univision News; Jimmy Wales, Founder, Wikipedia; and Lauryn Williams, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist in Sprinting and Silver Medalist in Bobsledding.

The following new commitments and progress reports were announced in CGI U 2014 plenary sessions:

Detecting Water-Borne Pathogens in the Water Supplies of Developing Countries (CGI U 2013)
Commitment By: Nisarg Patel; Ryan Muller; Khateeb Hussain; Madeline Sands
School: Arizona State University

In 2013, Nisarg Patel, Ryan Muller, Khateeb Hussain, and Madeline Sands committed to develop a user-friendly, cost-effective protein-based biosensor that detects water-borne pathogens in Antigua, a developing community in the Central Highlands of Guatemala. They traveled to Guatemala and met with potential partners that can pilot the biosensor, and implemented a hygiene and sanitation lesson plan in local schools to teach 400 students about better health practices.

Empower Model (CGI U 2013)
Commitment By: Thierry Rignol; Lynn Gai; Trent Navran; Kathy Truong
School: Rice University

In 2013, Thierry Rignol, Lynn Gai, Trent Navran, and Kathy Truong committed to bring STEM interest and education to underrepresented K-12 students in Houston, Texas through interactive professional dialogues, leadership development and programming, and hands-on activities. Since making their commitment, they have expanded their network of university STEM mentorships chapters to include 50 student leaders, with more than 200 university student and professional scientist mentors. Approximately 600 underserved K-12 students receive mentorship per semester as a result of the campus chapters, which has allowed the team to impact and inspire approximately 2,800 youth.

D* serve (CGI U 2013)
Commitment By: DeAndrea Nichols
School: Washington University in St. Louis

In 2013, DeAndrea Nichols committed to launch D*serve, a program to educate disadvantaged youths in design, entrepreneurship, and civic leadership in the Hyde Park community of Missouri. Since CGI U 2013, De Andrea Nichols has executed one project and one venture lab within the St. Louis community. From September through December, they have engaged over 30 youth in the first semester of a two-semester venture lab. Youth aged 3-19 have utilized the D*Serve design thinking process to engage the issue of littering within their neighborhood and create an urban worm farm that will collect, compost, and develop trash into fertilizer for use and/or sale.

From Garbage to Garden (CGI U 2013)
Commitment By: Glenda Alfaro
School: Mount Hood Community College

In 2013, Glenda Alfaro committed to develop From Garbage to Garden, which aims to improve soil productivity using composting methods in the agricultural community of Jardins de la Nueva, El Salvador. Since its launch, the project has benefited 125 people in rural Jardines de la Nueva, El Salvador, with Alfaro having provided 13 families with a sophisticated composting tumbler. Each tumbler included all necessary tools to practice composting, and to prepare compost teas and mulches. She monitors the project, and provides ongoing guidance and education to the families twice each month.

Sustainable Fish Farming Project (CGI U 2013)
Commitment By: Kanchan Amatya
School: University of Oklahoma

In 2013, Kanchan Amatya committed to establish the Sustainable Fish Farming Project, a microfinance initiative that aims to provide 500 families in rural Nepal with funding to start their own fish farms. Since making the commitment, Amatya has assessed the needs of the poverty-stricken village of Baseri, and after spending the last year establishing partnerships, collecting data, raising funds, and acquiring approval from members of the Baseri village, the team plans to execute the construction of fish farm and execution of the project in 2014.

Building Social Houses in Haiti (CGI U 2014)
Commitment By: Anuar Martinez; Katherine Motyka
School: Technology Institute of Santo Domingo

In 2014, Anuar Martinez and Katherine Motyka committed to solve the housing shortage in Les Palmes, Haiti in an environmentally sustainable way. By using plastic bottles as a construction material, the team plans to buld 50 social houses for low-income families by 2016, with each house utilizing approximately 14,000 recycled plastic bottles. The team will hold training sessions to teach the local residents how to construct these houses in an effort to increase employment opportunities in the region.

The Lucky Iron Fish (CGI U 2014)
Commitment By: Gavin Armstrong
School: University of Guelph

In 2014, Gavin Armstrong committed to create a safe and effective solution to iron deficiency in Kandal, Cambodia through producing a fish-shaped iron tool for use in the cooking process. The iron fish releases 75 percent of the daily-required iron into the food with which it cooks. Armstrong will produce the iron fish from recycled material, manufacturing it locally to promote skill development and boost the local economy. The tool will cost $5 and have a five-year life span, making it more sustainable and affordable than iron supplements. Armstron will partner with Red Cross and the World Food Program to bring the iron fish to the rural Kandal Province. He hopes to train 100 locals in the production of the iron fish, distribute 10,000 iron fish by December 2014, and scale the process to produce and distribute 50,000 more iron fish by 2015.

Stay in Touch (CGI U 2014)
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 learning how their loved ones are doing after a disaster through a texting service. Individuals will check into the service via a text message post-disaster and a text message will then be sent to the searcher, notifying them of the lost party’s last check-in as well as a phone number that was used to check in. 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. They will measure their reach through the number of individuals setting up accounts on the platform.

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

Support for CGI U 2014 is generously provided by: American Association of University Women; Andy Nahas and The Prospect Fund; Laureate International Universities; MasterCard Foundation; Microsoft; Peter G. Peterson Foundation; Pederson Group, Inc.; and the Ramsey Social Justice Foundation.

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About Arizona State University
Arizona State University is one of the nation’s leading public research universities and is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world.

Known for innovation and entrepreneurism, ASU has pioneered the model for a New American University with a focus on accessibility and quality education, training students to learn for a lifetime. According to its mission, ASU will be measured not by who we exclude, but rather by who we include and how they succeed; pursuing research and discovery that benefits the public good; assuming major responsibility for the economic, social, and cultural vitality and health and well-being of the community.