Hamilton was well-represented with seven student attendees at the 9th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) held April 1- 3 at the University of California, Berkeley. Aleksandra Bogoevska ’17, Andy Chen ’16, Leonard Kilekwang ’16, Alexandru Hirsu ’17, Emily Moschowits ’16, Sharif Shrestha ’17 and Tsion Tesfaye ’16 were among the more than 1,200 students chosen for the prestigious conference. All are recipients of Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center funding and/or support.
Building on the successful model of the Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together world leaders to take action on global challenges, President Bill Clinton launched the CGI U in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world.
Former Levitt Leadership Institute participants Andy Chen ’16 and Leonard Kilekwang ’16 were awarded a $6,500 fellowship in the Resolution Project social venture capital funding competition for their plan to combat preventable disease epidemics in impoverished communities in Kenya. The majority of Kenya’s population owns cell phones, so Chen and Kilekwang will use SMS texts to provide public health information. They plan to begin with a trial run that will send messages to political, cultural and non-governmental leaders in Chepareria, West Pokot.
The messages will provide sanitation lessons aimed to combat water-borne epidemics that are common during Kenya’s wet season. Simultaneously, they will be working to build partnerships with local businesses, organizations and community leaders in order to make the messages culturally sensitive and eventually include more people in the program.
“The seed funding provided by The Resolution Project's fellowship is significant and solidifies logistics of travel and housing for Leonard's and my venture, said Chen. "The Fellowship, however, is more helpful to us because of its significant mentoring aspect.”
Levitt Social Innovation Fellow Emily Moschowits ’16 received a $5,000 Resolution Fellowship for for her Utica-based food project. She plans to start an organization that will provide low-income Utica residents with greater access to fresh, local produce and educate them about farming and local foods. Her organization will work with existing urban gardens around Utica to improve maintenance, distribution and educational programs. She also plans to work with the health department to create new urban gardens, specifically hydroponics or indoor vertical farms that will provide fresh produce year-round. Moschowits also participated in the Levitt Leadership Institute.
The Resolution Project fellows will also receive mentoring and legal advice for their projects. Out of 133 applicants, 20 teams were eventually selected as fellows in the competitive process.
Sharif Shrestha ’17 was one of five students recognized at the opening plenary session of the CGI U. He presented a brief summary of his Commitment to Action project Herbs Cooperative for Economic Empowerment. Shrestha received a grant from Resolution Project social venture capital funding competition last year.
Tsion Tesfaye ’16 presented her Commitment to Action project “Youth for Ethiopia” (YFE) in a skills building session at CGI U. In 2014 she used a Levitt Social Innovation Fellowship to start YFE, an academic and leadership program for high school students in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “It was an honor to represent the Youth for Ethiopia team and present at CGI U,” said Tesfaye. “This recognition will be a huge encouragement for the team.”
Of the 20 Resolution Trust fellows selected, 10 percent were Hamilton students. Of the 28 on-stage presenters at CGI U, 7 percent were Hamilton students.
The Hamilton students all participated in numerous Levitt Center workshops and mentoring sessions to prepare for CGI U. “At the Levitt Center, we are pleased that our programs, plus mentoring and advice from our staff and from faculty, have allowed these students to work on their ideas and develop interesting, thoughtful and well-designed projects,” said Professor of Economics and Director of the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center Julio Videras.
Aleksandra Bogoevska ’17 and Alexandru Hirsu ’17 also attended CGI U and took part in workshops.
The Renyi Leadership Fund provided the travel money and the Levitt Center provided the implementation and programming funds for the students. Cyrus Boga '90 and Melinda Little have been on campus this year as Levitt Center Innovators-in-Residence and have provided important mentoring to these students.