Berkeley Students Attend Clinton Conference for Global Action on Poverty

President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton.

By Rachel Voss and Javier Kordi, UC Berkeley News Eighteen UC Berkeley students attended the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U) annual gathering, hosted by President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton from April 5-7 in St. Louis, Missouri. The conference included knowledge sharing and networking opportunities for students committed to tackling the world’s most pressing problems and will feature keynote speakers such as Muhammad Yunus, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jack Dorsey, and Stephen Colbert. Each year, thousands of students from around the world submit applications to CGI-U outlining a “Commitment to Action”—a concrete one-year plan to address a critical challenge in one of five categories: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, or Public Health. Finalists are invited to the CGI-U gathering, which provides attendees inspiration and guidance. “The CGI-U conference and community helped me to carry out my commitment to increase access to financial education for microfinance borrowers in Nairobi, Kenya, by providing me with the opportunity to learn from professionals around the world and network with other like-minded student,” said UC Berkeley alumna (’11) and previous CGI-U attendee Lauren Herman. “With the evaluation, leadership and fundraising skills that I gained, I made my commitment to global change a reality.” The UC Berkeley students invited to the CGI-U conference were selected for their passion, energy, and the strength of their Commitments to Action, which address a wide range of social and environmental challenges. For example, graduate students Javier Rosa and Todd Duncombe are expanding their “Build My Lab” project within the Tekla Labs initiative, a global on-line community to connect scientists, educators, and hobbyists who design and use home-built laboratory equipment. Senior Caitlin Francoisse has been invited to present her locally focused project, “Sexual Health for Youth,” which she started in the women’s section of the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center after receiving the prestigious Strauss Scholars Award in 2012.  Francoisse has committed to expand her project to the male detention center by building the base of Berkeley students volunteering within the program. In addition to this year’s strong UC Berkeley student participation, the Blum Center for Developing Economies this year represented UC Berkeley in the inaugural year of the Clinton Global Initiative University Network. Colleges and universities in this new nationwide partnership will provide support and guidance to their respective students who have made CGI-U Commitments to Action. As CGI-U spokesperson Ragina Arrington explained, “Our hope is that these students will be better equipped to carry out their Commitments to Action, as they will have both more formal, fiscal university support for their projects, as well as greater access to on-campus university mentors who are ready to serve as a resource to them.”
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