CGI U 2021

March 31st, 2021

Every year, since 2007, Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) brings together about 1,200 university students to engage with the next generation of leaders. More than 7,000 commitments have been made and $4M in funding has been awarded to commitment-makers through CGI U in the spheres of Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health. GW’s commitment to student social innovators was accelerated when GW hosted the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative University annual event on its Foggy Bottom campus. More than 1,000 students attended the gathering to share their plans to change the world and to exchange ideas with their peers and leaders. 

The CGI U Commitment Maker Challenge offers GW students the opportunity to participate in their program in leadership, development, mentorship, and skills training. If accepted, students will receive funding for their initiative or project that can take place domestically or internationally. The funding per student varies year-to-year but the overall total amount available to GW community members is $10,000. This year three GW students have been selected by the Clinton Foundation to participate in the year-round Commitment to Action program which will provide student leaders the opportunity to attend a virtual CGI U Annual Meeting, hosted by Howard University from March 23-26, 2021.


Also, we want to recognize five GW Students that through the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) received the CGI U COVID-19 Action Fund Awards to address the pandemic from an international perspective.  

Diana Aguilera 

Elizabeth Diing Manyang 

Konstantin Mitic 

Omar Negron-Ocasio 

Divya Rath  

2020-2021 CGI U Grant Recipients


Betlhame Hailu


Year & Major: 2021, International Affairs
Commitment Name: Raider College Prep
Commitment Focus Area: Education 

"I am working to address the low application and retention rate of college students from diverse and historically disenfranchised backgrounds such as low-income, first-generation, and students of color. This problem concerns me because college is an invaluable experience for these populations to create opportunity and reduce inequities. For example, studies show that low-income students have a 90% chance of escaping poverty with a degree in higher education (Pew Charitable Trust). I want to focus on the underserved Rangeview High School, where I attended high school. Throughout this project I want to foster a strong alumni community that is willing to contribute and assist high school students navigating post-secondary education.

I'm a senior, studying International Affairs, concentrating in International Development and minoring in Economics. Currently, I work as a Research Assistant in partnership with my university and DC police department on Rethinking DC Youth & Policing. In the past, I have interned at various non-government organizations such as the Osgood Center for International Studies, AGE Africa, and the Posner Center for International Development. Additionally, as a Student Consultant for NGOs in Washington D.C. with Community Engaged Consulting, and an Assistant Web Developer at the Institute for International Economic Policy. My work at these organizations sharpened my analytical thinking, as well as my understanding of multi-phase projects and leadership of small teams. Cumulatively, these experiences led to my interest in the intersection of government and business to create social change and shape civil society. Upon graduation, I work as a full-time International Tax Trade & Customs Associate at KPMG."


Helena Betancourt


Year & Major:  2024, International Affairs

Commitment Name: Re-Cycle  

Commitment Focus Area: Public Health 

"A woman spends approximately $15.00 per month on menstrual products. This accumulates to approximately $180.00 on menstrual products each year. They have no choice but to spend money on menstrual equipment, but there are women who cannot afford this expenditure. Our team would like to provide these women free menstrual equipment. However, if we were to do this, the amount of plastic waste caused by period products will increase. With the current amount of women using these products, OrganiCup has determined that menstruation products generate more than 200,000 tonnes of plastic waste. Thus, we wish to create a reusable product to limit the negative environmental impact of affordable and accessible period care

Having grown up in Puerto Rico, the waters surrounding me have provided limitless possibilities as to where I can go. This is both a blessing and a curse since the voices of Puerto Ricans seem to drown in these waters. This lack of representation motivated me to seek ways in which I could work to ensure that this does not affect others. I put those desires into action in Model United Nations, Student Council, the production of a short film, and LaunchX. These activities helped me foment public speaking, writing, debating, and problem-solving skills, along with knowledge regarding current events. I also interned for Mujer Emprende Latina, an organization that promotes female entrepreneurship. Here I participated in pitching, delegating and marketing workshops. Currently, I am a student at the George Washington University pursuing degrees in International Affairs and Criminal Justice, and a minor in Law and Society."


Heejin Yun


Year & Major: Graduate 

Commitment Name: Arts and Media 

Commitment Focus Area:  Peace and Human Rights 

"COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful for people. The fear and anxiety about what could happen are increasing since it is a new and unknown disease. At times like this, the importance of self-care is on the rise worldwide, and art is one of the sources for self-care. However, not everyone can start making art. It is because of their insufficient art supplies and uncertainty of the creative process. This project will provide art materials and workshops that include art activities that can be done using art kits to practice self-care with art-making. The project's goal is to continue to use creativity as a tool for self-care after the project is over.

I am Heejin Yun from the Republic of Korea, and currently studying art therapy at George Washington University. I grew up in a society where mental illness and subsequent treatment are not acceptable and consider weak. I suffered from depression, social anxiety, and eating disorders while I grew up, and I had to hide it. Since I experienced art therapy as a client, I am spending time studying art and psychology. Since then, I have been volunteering and working in the communities and organization where use the creative process as a tool for mental health. I am passionate about raising awareness of mental illness and self-care. Furthermore, I want to make a difference by action so that people don't have to go through the same frustrations I've been dealing with."