Over the 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 Clinton Global Initiative 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 led 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 worked with several community-based organizations on activities ranging from planting trees, to organizing libraries, to mural painting.
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.