By Andrea Guzman
Launched in 2007 by former President Bill Clinton, CGI U hosts student leaders, university representatives, topic experts, and celebrities to come together to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. This year’s conference, held March 6-8 at the University of Miami, will convene more than 1,100 students to discuss how they are taking action to address challenges in the following five areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.
The Blum Center has sponsored UC Berkeley’s participation in the CGI University Network since 2012, supporting students through travel assistance and yearlong advising on student projects. The Network is a distinguished body of higher education institutions throughout the world that have made a robust commitment to the principles of Clinton Global Initiative.
In 2015, the number of UC Berkeley students attending the conference jumped to 36 from 28 in 2014, with approximately 65 percent of the students having additional affiliations with the Blum Center. These affiliations include participation in BigIdeas@Berkeley, the Development Impact Lab, the Social Innovator OnRamp course, and the Global Poverty & Practice minor.
“Student-led innovations and community projects are better positioned to thrive when they have a wide spectrum of support and mentorship,” said Sean Burns, Director of Student Programs at the Blum Center. “Because of this, we are thrilled when we see Cal students participating in CGI U, who have been developing their ideas through some of our other Blum Center programs.”
A total of 24 projects will be presented, consisting of 17 group projects and seven individual projects. The projects range from educational programs for survivors of human trafficking to improving energy access in rural, developing areas.
Undergraduate business students Camilo Ossa and Elizabeth Mossessian will be attending the conference representing their project SeedEd Capital. Mentored through the Blum Center’s Social Innovator OnRamp course and a current Big Ideas finalist, SeedEd Capital is an online platform that facilitates investors and donors to support underprivileged “seeds,” or students, with financial resources. It intends to connect individuals who are passionate about education with students across the Bay Area who need financial resources and other support to pursue higher education. In addition to facilitating student-donor interactions online, SeedEd works to mentor and tutor students so they can achieve their academic goals.
Ossa and Mossessian said they are excited to meet like-minded students at CGI U and to connect with experts and influencers in the fields of education, economic empowerment, and youth support programs.
“We believe the interaction that we can get with experienced individuals, who can mentor us and provide feedback, is going to be immensely helpful in the development of the project,” Ossam and Mossessian said in an email.