From tackling gun violence to advancing LGBTQ rights, see how young leaders are turning their ideas into action to address challenges in their communities and around the world
Building on the successful model of the Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together world leaders to take action on global challenges, President Bill Clinton launched the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world.
This October, President Bill Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton brought together more than 1,100 student leaders from schools around the world for the 11th meeting of CGI University at the University of Chicago. From tackling gun violence to advancing LGBTQ rights, student leaders at the meeting took action to address tough issues through their Commitments to Action.
Keep reading for the top moments that inspired us at this year’s event.
1. Jacob Tobia shares their story of finding identity and advancing progress for the LGBTQ community
Thank you @JacobTobia for working so hard to influence the conversation and culture surrounding gender and the trans community. Your voice is needed now more than ever. #CGIU2018 https://t.co/Dj0O0WzJAA
Four years ago, Jacob Tobia came to CGI University with a commitment to influence the conversation and culture surrounding gender fluidity. Since then, they have continued to shine a light on issues affecting the LGBTQ community as a writer, producer, and author. They took the stage at this year’s meeting to share an update on their work, as part of this year’s 2018 Honor Roll — a roster of exceptional CGI U alumni commitment makers who have achieved significant milestones.
2. Chelsea Clinton takes over Clinton Foundation’s Instagram to show a behind-the-scenes look at CGI University
Chelsea Clinton chronicled her weekend at CGI U from the Clinton Foundation’s Instagram page. We saw as she tuned in to the Opening Plenary along with student leaders and provided her perspective from the Day of Action, where students led service projects giving back to the city of Chicago. She also participated in a Q&A on civic engagement, where she shared her sources of inspiration and more.
3. Christine Schindler shares her mission to break glass ceilings for women in STEM
Gender norms and social pressure keep many capable, interested girls from pursuing meaningful careers in these areas” -Christine Schindler founded Girls Engineering Change to encourage girls to dream big and pursue STEM fields #CGIU2018 https://t.co/xF2BlnOCRC
CGI U ’12 alum Christine Schindler returned to give an update on her commitment, Girls Engineering Change. Named to this year’s Honor Roll, Christine’s commitment has grown into a non-profit whose mission is to support and mentor girls with an interest in the STEM fields by pairing college student mentors with middle and high school girls to design, assemble, and distribute low-cost devices that are donated to areas in need all over the globe.
4. Students designed new solutions for disaster response and recovery during an all-day codeathon
To kick off the meeting, students participated in the 5th annual codeathon, where they competed to design innovative new tools to improve the effectiveness of disaster recovery efforts.
Met so many impressive young leaders tonight – including these coders designing new tools for disaster response. Tune in tomorrow for day 2! #CGIU2018
The winning team, Basic Aid Outreach (BAO) designed a platform that leverages existing social networks, artificial intelligence, and crowdsourced data to empower local volunteers and agencies to take the lead in delivering aid to victims of natural disasters in Southeast Asia.
5. Sara Minkara raises her voice for inclusion for the disabled community
We want every single individual with a disability to embrace all of who they are, embrace their disability, see it as a strength” –@MinkaraSara, founder of Empowerment Through Integration #CGIU2018 https://t.co/X171paUBSL
Eight years ago, Sara Minkara came to CGI U with a commitment to establish an education and empowerment program for blind and visually-impaired students in Lebanon. Sara, a Lebanese-American who became blind at age seven, returned this year as the founder and CEO of Empowerment Through Integration (ETI), a nonprofit organization working to develop a more inclusive society through empowering youth with disabilities and transforming cultural rhetoric against disability around the world.
6. President Bill Clinton speaks with young changemakers who are working to expand civic engagement around the world
During a conversation on expanding civic engagement, President Bill Clinton spoke with four young leaders who have tackled difficult circumstances and are making a difference in their communities: Muzoon Almellehan, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador; D’Angelo McDade, executive director, Peace Warrior Organization; Wai Wai Nu, executive director, Women’s Peace Network; and Astrid Silva, executive director, Dream Big Nevada.
The panelists shared how students can cultivate the leadership skills needed to turn passion into civic participation and sustained action that expands the definition of “us” to include “them.”
7. Daquan Oliver speaks about breaking the cycle of poverty by expanding access to entrepreneurial training programs
WeThrive seeks to break the cycle of poverty that starts with low expectations and limited opportunities by giving kids who haven’t had a chance just that-a chance” –@DaquanOliver #CGIU2018 https://t.co/6uNN8EVaZQ
CGI U ’13 alum and CGI U Honor Roll student, Daquan Oliver joined the conference to provide an update on his commitment WeThrive, an organization working to equip and empower youth through entrepreneurial training. Daquan’s success is living proof of how a Commitment to Action can become lifelong work that grants continuous impact for real communities. Daquan joined us at CGI U 2018 to tell us how he is helping low-income teens break the cycle of poverty and how students can achieve their goals with passion and persistence.
8. An important conversation on gun violence and youth social movements across the country
From the March for Our Lives to the streets of Chicago, student-led movements are inspiring people across the globe, building bridges between unlikely communities who share the common pain of gun violence and creating a meaningful impact when many traditional institutions have not.
Chelsea Clinton moderated a critical conversation with a group of experts working to address the many underlying factors connected to gun violence, including unemployment, poverty, overdependence on incarceration, mental illness, and easy access to firearms. The panel included Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee; Sarah Chadwick, co-founder, March For Our lives; Julio Martinez Ellsberg, member, Nicaraguan Platform for Social Movements and Civil Society Organizations; Helene D. Gayle, president, and CEO, The Chicago Community Trust; and Nza-Ari Khepra, Founder of Project Orange Tree and Co-Creator of Wear Orange Campaign.
9. Arnav Dalmia highlights the teamwork and cooperation that drove his Commitment to Action
CGI U ’14 alum and CGI U Honor Roll student Arnav Dalmia returned to his alma mater of the University of Chicago to tell us about the success of his commitment. Arnav was driven by the health consequences of prolonged sitting and co-founded Cubii, the first under-desk elliptical that lets you exercise while you work. Arnav discussed his motivation to take on such a significant issue, as well as the passion that drove him to creatively bring his product to the market. Arnav also expressed how teamwork and collaboration were active forces in furthering the progress of his Commitment to Action.
Mayo Clinic calls sitting the new smoking” -Arnav Dalmia co-founded Cubii to address the health consequences of prolonged sitting #CGIU2018 https://t.co/zFtVuIKVYF
10. Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton joins President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton for an unforgettable closing plenary
On Saturday night, President Bill Clinton, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton came together for a discussion moderated by Helene Gayle, President, and CEO, The Chicago Community Trust. They shared advice and urged students to be conscious of cultural divisiveness as they continue their work on their Commitments to Action.
While speaking at the closing plenary, Secretary Hillary Clinton urged students to work collaboratively to make a difference, “We have to keep doing what CGI U represents — which is to bring people together who want to be part of solving problems, who want to bring their talent and their energy and their optimism to that task.”
11. Chelsea Clinton leads hundreds of students in a Day of Action giving back to the Chicago community
Our students are excited to give back to the Chicago community! Thank you to @UChicago and its nonprofit partners for organizing a wonderful and impactful day of service. #CGIU2018 https://t.co/9CbeYFaFEw
To close out the weekend, Chelsea Clinton led hundreds of students in a Day of Action to give back to the Chicago community. Students participated in a wide array of service projects, working together with local organizations and schools — from painting murals to packing survival bags for the homeless to planting local gardens.