Gun violence. Education for girls. Climate change. See which topics are on the agenda as student leaders gather for CGI U 2018.

The 11th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting will bring together student leaders from around the world who will engage with leading experts, advocates, and innovators on issues facing young people and the world today.

Here’s what we’re excited for this year:

Conversations Tackling Pressing Issues

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gun violence is the third leading cause of death in American children. On Saturday, Chelsea Clinton will be joined by Helene D. Gayle, president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, Lt. Col. Joe Plenzler, retired Marine Cops combat veteran and co-founder of #VetsForGunReform, and Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee, Sarah Chadwick, co-founder, March for our Lives in a conversation called, “Gun Violence in the U.S.: A Case Study in Social Movements.” This discussion will explore how movements from the March for Our Lives to community organizers from the streets of Chicago are working to address the many underlying factors connected to gun violence and support young activists.

Another pressing issue facing all Americans — and dominating news headlines — is free speech. The “Freedom of Expression Around the World” plenary featuring panelists Julio Martinez Ellsberg, member, Nicaraguan Platform for Social Movements and Civil Society Organizations, Susan Herman, president, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Uzodinma Iweala, CEO, Africa Center, and Mai Khoi, Independent Artist, and Ben Schwerin, vice president of partnerships, Snap, Inc. will discuss upholding free speech and the open exchange of ideas, developing platforms for constructive dialogue, and more. Watch these discussions on Facebook Live.

Impactful Student Commitments

To participate in CGI U, students must develop Commitments to Action — new, specific, and measurable projects within five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health.

There are too many exciting, unique ideas to list in full, but some new commitments that are addressing the opioid epidemic, mental health wellness, and reducing recidivism include:

  • Fighting the Opioid Epidemic with Digital Technology, which will build an online platform to safely and discreetly exchange needles, provide access to the opioid overdose medication, and offer tele-counseling resources to patients.
  • FloraMind, that will create in-person workshops and a digital platform that will teach high school students about mental health and wellness to lower dropout rates and improve educational attainment in NYC.
  • Incarcerated: A Focus on Rehabilitation, committed to using a multidisciplinary curriculum to educate participants on factors that affect recidivism, teach coping strategies and empower inmates with life skills.

Disaster Recovery Innovation

A major challenge facing our world is how to effectively respond to natural disasters, especially with the rapid changes in climate. Students will be challenged with developing digital tools to accomplish that goal in a Codeathon event and “Code for Impact” session presented by CGI U, the CGI Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery, and the Clinton Climate Initiative. Students will work in teams to pitch their projects to Chelsea Clinton, vice chair, Clinton Foundation, Bob Lord, chief digital officer. IBM; Christine Schindler, president and founder of Girls Engineering Change and former CGI U student, Dawn Walker, director, RainReady Community, and Chris Wheat, chief of policy, Office of the Mayor at City of Chicago.

CGI U Honor Roll

The CGI U Honor Roll recognizes extraordinary CGI U alumni commitment makers who have achieved significant milestones in their issue areas that demonstrate that the service and work they began with CGI U is lifelong. You may have already heard of them, but here are some of the inspiring Honor Roll members that will be announced this year:

  • Arnav Dalmia, CGI U 2013 commitment-maker who co-founded Cubii, an exercise device as seen in Time Magazine, created to improve public heath and increase fitness activity among users.
  • Suhani Jalota, a CGI U 2016 commitment-maker, who has founded the Myna Mahila Foundation which provides access to sanitary pads to 15 slums in India, reaching more than 3,000 women, and was one of the charities honored by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
  • Sara Minkara, a CGI U 2009 commitment-maker and one of Forbe’s 30 Under 30, for her work to empower and socially integrate blind and visually-impaired students in Tripoli, Lebanon.

Day of Action

As a part of the Foundation’s efforts to inspire civic engagement and service and CGI U’s longtime commitment to volunteerism, Chelsea Clinton will lead student volunteers in a Day of Action on October 21 to give back to the Chicago community. The event will kick off at the XS Tennis and Education Foundation, which provides Chicago’s underserved youth with an enriching after school safe-haven and athletic/academic pathway to college. Volunteer sites will include Chicago Youth Program, whose mission is to improve the health and life opportunities of at-risk youth using a comprehensive approach aimed at developing their capabilities and Coppin Community Center, which works to meet the needs of people in the Washington Park community.

Stay tuned and keep up with the action by following along on Twitter at @CGIU and @ClintonFdn, watch the plenary sessions on our Facebook Live, and join the conversation online using the official meeting hashtag, #CGIU2018.

CGI U is a growing network of young leaders who are developing innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.