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Ten Northwestern Students Join 2023 Clinton Global Initiative University Cohort of Changemakers

Northwestern Brings Solutions for Food Waste, Environmental Accessibility, Gender Inequity, Supply Chain Sustainability to CGI U

February 21, 2023
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Every year, thousands of students from universities around the world apply to Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) with the aim of developing ideas to address global challenges. In 2023, ten Northwestern students were accepted to the program. CGI U student participants will have the chance to build relationships with their peers and fellow leaders in social impact and innovation. 

As teams or individuals, students will devise “commitments to action” that can measurably address an issue in their local community. The ten Northwestern students are bringing a diverse swathe of ideas to this year’s CGI U cohort. Here’s what they hope to achieve:

Commitment Name: Banning Weight-Based Discrimination in Colorado

CGI U Participant: Aimee Resnick (she/her), majoring in social policy and art history in the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP)

Commitment summary: Aimee Resnick is committed to addressing the issue of weight discrimination in healthcare, the workforce, housing and public accommodations. Her solution is a 2024 bill banning weight discrimination of all forms in Colorado. Sponsoring the bill will be Representatives Monica Duran and Dafna Michaelson-Jenet. Her project is also partnered with Mental Health Colorado, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the ACLU. The bill is expected to promote enhanced insurance of communities of color and reduce the racial wage gap. Furthermore, it will serve as a model for future weight discrimination prevention policies nationwide.


Commitment Name: ChicaGO OUTDOORS

CGI U Participant: Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences students Sean Dukes, majoring in sociology and global health with a minor in Spanish; and Aidan Ocampo, majoring in Earth and planetary sciences with a minor in environmental policy

Commitment summary: ChicaGO OUTDOORS is dedicated to addressing the inequalities that exist for low-income children of color in the Chicago area. Often, due to a lack of resources, youth are not given the opportunity to learn about the environment, local biodiversity, and natural processes governing our planet. To support their environmental education, ChicaGO OUTDOORS will provide children in grades 3-8 with field trips to national parks and preserves, camping trips, canoeing trips and more. We hope these experiences will instill a sense of stewardship to the natural world and inspire youth to fight for climate justice. ChicaGO OUTDOORS hopes to partner with REI Chicago, the Chicago Public School system, the Chicago Park District system and other local organizations to provide means for these trips. They plan to increase education and awareness around conservation as well as expand opportunities for low-income students to build connections with the land around them.


Commitment Name: Coding in Krio for teens in Kenema, Sierra Leone

CGI U Participant: Pattan Sandy Bockarie, computer engineering major at the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science

Commitment summary: Pattan Sandy Bockarie is committed to develop a computer coding curriculum in Krio to teach senior secondary school (SSS) students in Sierra Leone (SL) the basics of programming. Computer programming has not been part of the curriculum in most secondary schools and higher institutions in Kenema. English is the official language of SL, however, Krio is more often spoken in and out of school by both teachers and students. Hence, a computer coding curriculum will help students understand fundamentals of coding and leverage this understanding to advance their knowledge in coding. A key partner is the Eastern Technical University, that will help to develop the teaching curriculum and provide university computer labs as a center for this project where coding classes will be taught.


Commitment Name: Digital marketplace to help minimize food wastage

CGI U Participant: Sitanshu Goyal and Aditya Singh, both pursuing a Masters in Engineering Management at McCormick

Commitment summary: USDA estimates 30-40 percent of the food supply getting wasted in the US. This figure corresponded to $162 billion worth of food back in 2010. Sitanshu and Aditya will strive to help minimize this wastage at its source—retail, commercial and producer levels. They aim to provide a technological platform via App that would connect these sources with consumers for the near-expiring food items that would otherwise go to waste at discounted prices. The App will provide a win-win solution for consumers and businesses while helping reduce the environmental footprint. After a successful trial of the concept at Northwestern dining halls and food outlets, they plan to scale the model and bring onboard restaurateurs, retailers, and farmers. Finally, the platform will partner with companies to introduce image-processing technology to help predict the shelf life of perishable items to facilitate their better management. Sitanshu and Aditya acknowledge that there is a long way to go, but feel that if every one of us plays our part, we can help prevent food from going into landfills.


Commitment Name: Sisters in the Wilderness

CGI U Participant: Lauren M. Black, fourth year pre-law student, Human Development in Context major and Certificate of Civic Engagement in SESP

Commitment summary: Lauren Black is committed to the creation of a community-informed and evidence-based nonprofit organization to address gender inequity in Baltimore, M.D, and the sex trafficking that affects the city. This organization would facilitate the rehabilitation of sex trafficking victims through the use of a two-part curriculum that centers on healing and job training. This organization will partner with the Baltimore City Human Trafficking Collaborative, the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, the Baltimore City Public School System, and certification boards with the goal of leading to higher rates of women who successfully leave trafficking and reducing related gender-based inequity.


Commitment Name: The Circle (Supporting a sustainable supply chain for local Evanston clothing businesses)

CGI U Participant: Weinberg College student Abigail Coffey, an economics major and Business Institutions minor with the Harvey Kapnick Center for Business Institutions; and McCormick student Hannah Coffey, majoring in computer science 

Commitment summary: Abigail and Hannah Coffey are committed to collecting data on the local Evanston and Chicago clothing boutiques and businesses to help make their supply chain more sustainable, and to addressing the types of different textiles in this project in order to recommend a more sustainable future for local businesses. With resources, such as silk and cotton, polluting the earth there is a need to find solutions for the supply chain in the fashion industry. Fast fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world and is tackling many issues with sustainability such as their textile waste issue.


Commitment Name: Ward 9 Community Garden

CGI U Participant: April Parker, a student in the Program for Plant Biology and Conservation with The Graduate School

Commitment summary: The Ward 9 Community Garden project’s mission is to build a sustainable local food system for the low-income and People of Color (POC) populations of Chicago’s Ward 9 (Riverdale, West Pullman, Roseland, Chatham, and Washington Heights) to address food insecurity issues. The community garden will integrate sustainable food production and distribution to enhance the neighborhood's environmental, economic, and social health. The Ward 9 community garden project seeks to relieve the challenges of accessing high-quality, nutrient-dense food options and provide tools to foster community resilience, sovereignty, and personal freedom. We are committed to building a cross-generational community around food production and equipping residents of Ward 9 with valuable knowledge about urban gardening and nutrition to promote a more sustainable and healthier lifestyle.