Hamilton was well-represented at the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), held this year at Northeastern University. Risper Kirui ’19, Emily DeJong ’19, Gerard Pozzi ’18 and KT Glusac ’17 were among the more than 1,100 students chosen to attend the prestigious conference. In addition previous CGI U attendees Sharif Shrestha ’17, Emily Moschowits '16 and Andy Chen '16 returned this year.
All were recipients of Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center funding and/or support.
Each year, CGI U hosts a meeting where students, university representatives, topic experts, and celebrities gather to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. Students create their own Commitments to Action that address issues on campus, in local communities, or around the world.
KT Glusac’s commitment project focuses on poverty alleviation. She will share information and resources for residential cooperatives to achieve low-income housing nonprofit status. She will also offer empowering ideas such as financial sustainability measures (i.e. dividing rent based on income and creating food lawns) and community-building events to residential cooperatives in upstate New York. Glusac will work with Bread & Roses Collective House in Syracuse, a residential cooperative that successfully employs these methods. This project will raise awareness and feasibility of cooperatives as an opportunity for low-income housing, a financially-empowering and community-centered prospect for marginalized populations.
Glusac plans to connect with Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston, a potential mentor and a low-income community that, among other projects, has achieved aims of affordable and empowering housing through community-building.
Risper Kirui’s SmartStart aims to provide an empowering environment where children can put their curiosity and energy to use as they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic. In rural Londiani, Kenya, children lack resources to facilitate smooth transitions into advanced grades so they fall behind in the skills needed to achieve academic success. Involving children in activities that can help them develop capacities to understand coursework material is important in addressing the poor academic performances of children in Londiani. SmartStart will target children in K- 3rd grade, a critical period in a child’s development and will create a hub where children can do these activities. By having a centralized space that is well equipped to suit the needs of early learners, children can explore their interests, be exposed to materials that they do not have access to at school or at home, and work collaboratively with their peers.
Kirui said, “The event really motivated me to continue working on my project because sometimes in school with all the classwork, it is easy to lose focus on outside commitments we are passionate about. It was also nice to meet people with projects in Kenya which was encouraging for me to know we are all working together to better our country.”
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti left many people with inadequate living conditions, resulting in a lack of knowledge and a higher prevalence of illnesses including tuberculosis, HIV, and cholera. Emily DeJong’s commitment will spread knowledge about these illnesses and healthy lifestyles while assisting those with chronic conditions, teaching proper self-care in the village of Simonette. DeJong will partner with Touch of Hope which will employ local Haitian nurses to hold community meetings, demonstrations, and workshops to provide knowledge, support, and resources.
Because many Haitians cannot read, oral presentations will be held weekly. Topics include understanding diseases, when and why to take medications, important symptoms and side-effects, and hospitals and transportation available. Participants in this program will stay for a maximum of 3 months in order promote independence and self-sufficiency.
DeJong said “It was so empowering to be surrounded by over 1,000 like-minded students who are passionate about social innovation and who are taking steps to create meaningful change. Hearing the progress and passion from everyone was really inspiring.”
Gerard Pozzi’s EduHarvest will bring second harvest, cosmetically imperfect produce from local farms to institutional dining facilities (schools, hospitals) to demonstrate that imperfect produce is indeed nutritious. This commitment will, hopefully, inspire schools, hospitals, etc. to expand their view of what is edible.
Farmers deserve compensation for the energy and labor they invest in producing food, rather than letting it go to waste and rot in the field. Children and patients will also gain access to higher-quality food. The team will work with logistical organizations to harness the resources (trucks, employees) and transport that produce. EduHarvest seeks a shift in attitude toward how we view our food.
No organization currently brings second harvest, cosmetically imperfect produce from farms to institutional dining facilities that suffer from poor budgets and do not have access to quality food. EduHarvest is unique because it links these two entities. The organization will work with school boards to ensure the most is made of that produce and to concurrently restructure meal plans and menus.