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24 Northwestern Students, 13 Teams Accepted to Clinton Global Initiative University Program

Monika Wnuk | November 17, 2017
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In mid-October Northwestern student Evan Taylor (WCAS ’19) traveled to Northeastern University in Boston for the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) conference. Along with 23 other Northwestern students from majors spanning the University, Taylor was accepted into the 2017-2018 CGI U program, an international community of college students developing solutions to pressing global challenges. CGI U was launched by Bill Clinton in 2007 to support young leaders making headway in the areas of education, climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.

Falling into the area of education, Taylor, an economics major, proposed a project aimed at fostering educational development and youth empowerment on Chicago’s west and south sides. Joining more than 1500 students from 80 countries for the weekend, he heard from global leaders in education, participated in skill- strengthening workshops, and met mentors and peers working toward related goals.

“It was uplifting to talk to, and learn from, people who are not only pledging action, but actively working every day to make a difference in the world,” Taylor says. “I felt like we were an integral part of a powerful youth movement, and the support everyone gained from each other was something that I know will push our project forward."

It was uplifting to talk to, and learn from, people who are not only pledging action, but actively working every day to make a difference in the world.”

Evan Taylor (WCAS ’19)

Hosted by Bill and Chelsea Clinton, the conference also included talks by Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state, Paul Farmer, chief strategist and co-founder of Partners in Health, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Olympic medalist, activist, and entrepreneur, Amanda Nguyen, founder of Rise, a national civil rights nonprofit providing aid to sexual assault survivors, and Daryl Davis a musician and race relations expert known for engaging with Ku Klux Klan members, many of whom he has convinced to rescind their ideology.

“Speakers such as Daryl Davis did an excellent job of highlighting important social justice issues occurring across the US and shared valuable insight from their personal experience working within communities,” says Rachel Sepulveda (Comms ’19). Sepulveda’s CGI U project aims to educate college and high school students in civic engagement to spur youth empowerment.

Since 2014, the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) has served as the University’s liaison to the CGI U network, working closely with student teams to submit impactful proposals that address sustainability issues in their communities and the world. In 2016, ISEN also launched the Resnick Family Social Impact Program to provide scale-up project assistance of up to $25,000 to interdisciplinary Northwestern student teams.

For a full list of 2017-2018 CGI U projects by Northwestern students, see below:

1.  Globe Talk: Promoting Peace with Multi-level Global Exchange, Tazim Merchant, (Philosophy ’18), Brigitte Xu (Undecided ’20), Claudia Sierra (Psychology ’20)

Globe Talk will create eight new Globe Talk chapters where HS students are guided to launch two international service learning exchanges, and two cultural immersion exchanges, and deepen impact through increased participation, program enhancement, and focus on equal access. Such efforts aim to combat polarization by promoting pluralism, and invigorate youth with a strong cosmopolitan ethic to be agents of global change. They will work with administrators, teachers, and students at target chapters, partner with other nonprofits to develop programming, and gain guidance at The Garage, Northwestern’s incubator, including from the CEO of CodeNow, a nonprofit teaching coding skills to HS students. Globe Talk expects measurable increases in community cultural awareness, participant confidence, language acquisition, and service impact.

2. Men Apil Chay Pa Lou, Phidomese Levereque (Management ’17)

Men Apil Chay Pa Lou will focus on strengthening the farming production in Boudette Grand Place, Haiti as a means to alleviate poverty. Investing in local farming activity will help create economic opportunities for local community members by assisting them with effective tools, infrastructure, and education to successfully farm and produce food. This project will help promote community togetherness and provide members with food security that will help improve the economic condition of people in Boudette Grand Place.

3. Supplies for Women (SFW): Distribution of Menstrual Supplies, Miranda Heaner (International Affairs, ’19)

Supplies for Women addresses the provision and distribution of women’s sanitary supplies in the Zaatari refugee camp. There are almost 80,000 refugees in the camp, half of whom are women. The majority of the female population is of menstruating age, and only one organization directly addresses reproductive health in the camp. This Commitment would partner with parent companies like Kimberly-Clark and Unilever, as well as organizations such as UNHCR. Through SFW, thousands of women would receive a higher degree of care and the rates of infection and sanitation-illness would decrease. Humane treatment of refugees is a fundamental right; this includes access to menstrual supplies.

4. Pipe it Back: Ensuring a Safe Water Supply for Hong Kong, Emory Holzer (Political Science ’21)

In 2017, Pipe it Back is committed to work with prominent American piping manufactures, such as Charlotte Pipe, to export CPVC piping to China. This piping is a cheaper and safer alternative to the copper-based piping currently used in China. Pipe it Back will talk to Chinese government official Helena Wong who is in charge of the process to replace the contaminated copper piping. After replacing the Chinese piping, they will then import the large amounts of scrap piping, where it is safe to use for non consumption purposes such as producing car engine blocks and electrical wiring. The group expects to eliminate lead poisoning in China that is due to contaminated piping, building a safe water supply.

5. TherapyOS Autism, Ashley Carrick (Kellogg ’16)

TherapyOS Autism will provide exercises for children to conduct while wearing a virtual reality headset. Through initiating simulations from a desktop and monitoring feedback, we can assess the efficacy of the exercises while dramatically reducing the time & money spent producing these exercises. Through the use of customizable, immersive social stories, we can address specific challenges that children with autism face and improve their quality of life with continued use. We currently have a partnerships with UCLA and various healthcare mentors including psychologists, neuroscientists, and occupational therapists. As a result of our commitment, we hope to be the therapy operating system that integrates virtual reality and artificial intelligence for autism.

6. Allow Good, Rachel Sepulveda (Communications ‘19), Imani Wilson (Public Policy ’18), Abigail Kutlas (Learning Sciences ’18)

By 2018, Allow Good is committing to train college students to teach high school students about social issues, community development, philanthropy, and nonprofit organizations beyond Chicago, and expand its existing program model to Stanford University. The team will educate college and high school students in civic engagement to affect change in their communities and support local organizations. They will partner with the Allow Good Evanston nonprofit headquarters and Stanford students who have taken the Learning Philanthropy course. The group expects to increase youth volunteerism, ability to identify themselves as community changemakers, and accountability in giving back to the nonprofit sector through the high school education program in the Stanford area by December 2018.

7. Kheyti, Saumya (Kellogg ’17)

Kheyti’s Greenhouse in a Box is a low-cost modular greenhouse bundled with end-to-end services that fits in 2 percent of farmer's land, protects crops from environmental risks and grows seven times more food using 90 percent less water. Kheyti will deliver the greenhouse and services effectively to 1000 farmers by December 2018 and generate steady incomes of $100/month for these 1000 farmers.

8. The Social and Environmental Study of Caribbean, Lauren Audi (Biology, MS ’18)

The Social and Environmental Study of Caribbean Breadfruit will help to advance food security and promote local sustainability in the Caribbean via partnerships with local farmers in a part of the world where food insecurity, effects of climate change and deforestation are high. It will characterize the diversity of the underutilized crop,breadfruit, in the Caribbean via genetic analysis, design and install a germplasm collection and demonstration agroforestry garden in collaboration with the St. Vincent Botanic Garden (SVBG) and work with the North Leeward Young Farmers cooperative to provide training and equipment for the processing of breadfruit. This project serves to advance food security and local sustainability in the Caribbean, specifically St. Vincent where breadfruit was first introduced. The world population relies on approximately 1 percent of potential food crops for 90 percent of our global diet (FAO 2011). As the population grows, the demand on agriculture and energy resources to produce food will only increase. Food security is an especially high priority for tropical island communities that are often impacted by natural disasters (USDA 2015) and have alarming rates of deforestation (Sala et al. 2000). Agroforestry systems that utilize tree crops can protect watersheds, provide erosion protection and coastal stabilization, establish natural root systems, sequester carbon, and provide economic and cultural benefits (USDA 2015).

9. Community Currency, Zach Hennenfent (Economics ’19), Evan Taylor (Economics ’19), Kevin Qui (Materials Science ’20)

Community Currency seeks to prevent monetary waste from international travel by placing receptacles in Chicago airports to collect unused foreign currency from international travelers. Using this currency, we will resource and build partnerships with community organizations in the South and West wards of Chicago to produce cultural change in communities that will foster educational development and youth empowerment. We intend to work with Seaway Bank and Trust, the exclusive exchange provider in Chicago airports; Global Coins Solutions, our exchange partner for coins; and community organizations such as Friends of Brentano. We hope to capture $500,000 of unused currency annually and help 60% of elementary school students meet Illinois academic standards in our target communities over the next two years.

10. Healthy, Well-thy, & Wise: Teaching Children Healthy Habits, Abhinav Talwar (Neuroscience ’18)

Healthy, Well-thy, & Wise: Teaching Children Healthy Habits provides health education to elementary school students in underserved communities through a tailored project-based health curriculum. The team will use an original workbook and specific activities to engage all the students and maximize their learning. This will help elementary school children cultivate healthy mindsets to achieve long-term, sustainable health. The team will work with teachers and administrators in the Freeport School District, and the Schenectady School District to implement the program, and also various health professionals for guidance. They hope to see that their students do, in fact, understand more about healthy living and instigate tangible change within their lives in order to establish a brighter future.

11. Health Consultation Platform, Gabrielle Peck (Neuroscience ’18), Jessica Castillo (Biology ’18), Melissa Nickles (Psychology ’17)

The Health Consultation Platform will holistically evaluate an individual's health status based on family history, demographics, environmental concerns, socioeconomic status, and lifestyle. Patrons will receive an individualized health plan based on a physician approved online survey at the consultation service. The Health Consultation Platform works to combat the shortage of American physicians and to forward the shift towards a preventative care model in Evanston and Skokie, Illinois. We will work in collaboration with Community Health Corps' current partners: local health departments, two federally qualified health centers, Northwestern University, and a physician advisory board. The group expects to better aid their community in scheduling annual doctor visits, changing lifestyle habits, and addressing social barriers to attaining qualified health care.

12. Sidekick, Chris Shaw (Business Administration ’18), Ashwin Halgeri (Business Administration ’18), Brian Li (Business Administration ’18)

Chris will launch social impact edtech venture, Sidekick to make engaging, real-world learning experiences easy for high school STEM teachers to create and deliver, leading to student proficiency improvements in those subject areas. In the first year of the commitment, Sidekick will pilot with 4 Midwest districts, including Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County in Indiana and Community High School District No. 128 in Illinois, to test for expected academic outcomes while building out the production version of our technology. Sidekick will scale to 25 districts in year two. By year two, Chris commits to pursuing a statistically significant increase, targeted at 8 percent in Math and 12 percent in Science, on a sample NAEP for participating high schools.

13. Red Cross + Northwestern Partnership Program, Jacob Solomon (Engineering ’18), Maria Kaufman (Biology ’18)

Our goal is train a cohort of Northwestern students as Red Cross instructors to provide First Aid/CPR/AED certifications to community members at no charge. To achieve this we have already selected 20 committed student as instructors and secured funding to cover the cost of the instructor training course provided by Red Cross. Next, we will continue to work with local partner organizations to set up the workshops and gain assistance recruiting participants from the targeted communities. External partners include organizational support from a Northwestern student group, Community Health Corps, and institutional support from the Global Health Department at Northwestern University. We work closely with our advisor, Professor Michael Diamond on this initiative. In 2017, we will complete the instructor training courses and begin providing workshops in the community.