ASU helps get ideas off the ground at 2014 Clinton Global Initiative University

CGI U graphic

1,000-plus students to engage in developing solutions to major world problems

Watch the coverage unfold on Storify.

ASU student Kathleen Stefanik is no stranger to overcoming adversity.

Having grown up in extreme poverty, she became the first member of her family to earn a college degree. After making many personal sacrifices to secure the educational future of her three children and earning an associate's degree at Mesa Community College, Stefanik transferred into ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation and Barrett, the Honors College.

Now, she is working on her undergraduate degree in industrial and organizational psychology and holds a 4.19 GPA.

Stefanik exemplifies the 200 Sun Devils chosen to represent ASU at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), hosted on the Tempe campus this weekend. Her "commitment to action" – a signature part of CGI U – is to help struggling farmers in Peru increase crop production by using an ancient method of soil improvement called Terra Preta. This technique can enable them to become businessmen, in addition to feeding their families, thereby pulling their communities out of the cycle of poverty.

More than 1,000 students like Stefanik, committed to transformational change, will take part in the March 21-23 event. They will be inspired by President Bill Clinton, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton and other social change leaders who aim to educate and empower through panel discussions, networking events and a culminating Day of Action in central Phoenix.

These undergraduate and graduate students will engage in developing solutions to some of the most pressing concerns of the Millennial generation, including human rights, women’s social and economic empowerment and combating HIV/AIDS in the United States.

"By sharing their commitments to action – new, specific and measurable plans spanning areas such as education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health – students will gain new perspectives about how to most effectively implement their ideas," said Jacqueline Smith, executive director of University Initiatives and adviser to the president for social embeddedness, who is leading the ASU effort.

Staff members for many areas, including University Initiatives, ASU Gammage, Sun Devil Fitness Complex, Public Affairs, the Memorial Union, UTO, the Enterprise Marketing Hub, ASU Police, Educational Outreach and Student Services, Facilities Management and Parking and Transit Services have been working with the CGI U national staff for months to help execute the event.

The students will be joined by experts, entrepreneurs and civically engaged celebrities, including Bill Drayton, chief executive officer, Ashoka; Gabrielle Giffords, former U.S. Representative and founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions; Mark Kelly, former astronaut and founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions; ASU alum Jimmy Kimmel, host and executive producer, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”; John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona; Cindy Hensley McCain, founding member, Eastern Congo Initiative; Reeta Roy, president and chief executive officer, The MasterCard Foundation; María Elena Salinas, anchor, Univision News; Jimmy Wales, founder, Wikipedia; and Lauryn Williams, U.S. Olympic gold medalist in sprinting and silver medalist in bobsledding.

“Each year, the commitments and partnerships that come out of CGI University prove that young people are not only up to the task of working toward a safer, more sustainable world, but that they are eager to get started now,” said Chelsea Clinton. “Whether interested in starting a social venture to fight HIV/AIDS, or increasing women’s interest in STEM in remote areas of the world, students come to CGI U to turn their ideas into action. We are thrilled to bring this meeting to ASU, which has the largest solar energy portfolio of any university in America and a strong commitment to positive social change and innovation.”

CGI U 2014 attendees will have access to more than $750,000 in seed funding to implement their commitments. The funding marks the largest sum in the meeting’s history, including $650,000 from the growing CGI University Network of more than 55 colleges and universities, and another $100,000 through the Resolution Project Social Venture Challenge, a competition between aspiring student entrepreneurs with sustainable enterprises.

On Sunday, students will gather in downtown Phoenix for the Clinton Foundation’s ninth Day of Action. The morning of community service will be in collaboration with PHX Renews, a partnership between the City of Phoenix and Keep Phoenix Beautiful, that aims to transform previously vacant lots in the city into vibrant and sustainable public spaces. To kick off the Day of Action, Chelsea Clinton and President Bill Clinton will be joined by Mayor of Phoenix Greg Stanton, Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and former astronaut Mark Kelly.

CGI U at ASU is a Zero Waste event, exemplifying ASU's deep commitment to sustainability.

To read more about ASU at CGI U, visit the website The official CGI U website can be seen here: To follow the weekend’s events, tune in to ASU’s CGI U Storify page at

Follow CGI U at ASU on Twitter at @CGIU and @ClintonGlobal or on Facebook at for meeting news and highlights. The official meeting hashtag is #CGIU. Plenary sessions will also be live streamed during the meeting at