‘Bracket’ Challenge Launched for CGI U

Chris Deschenes, Jon Torrey and Matthew Wilkins hold bamboo bicycle in University Yard
GW students and Panda Cycles team Chris Deschenes, Jon Torrey and Matthew Wilkins.
March 20, 2012

March Madness is coming to the Clinton Global Initiative University.

Today, President Bill Clinton announced the launch of the second annual CGI U Commitment Challenge, a competition of ideas from college and university students in the form of a “bracket.” This year’s bracket of 16 commitments includes GW students’ Panda Cycles, which aims to provide affordable and sustainable bamboo bicycles to developing countries.

The fifth meeting of CGI U, which will be held at the George Washington University from March 30 to April 1, falls on the same weekend as NCAA “Final Four” men’s and women’s basketball championships.

“From creating sustainable bamboo bikes to teaching young people life skills through the game of chess, these new CGI U commitments are 16 great examples of how college students are taking action to improve lives on their campus and around the world,” said President Clinton. “More than 3,000 commitments have been made since the first CGI U meeting in 2008, and I look forward to learning about the new solutions students will bring this year.”

Beginning today, the public can vote for their favorite CGI U 2012 commitment at www.cgiu.org/bracket, and votes will be tallied and posted in real time at cgiu.org.

There will be four rounds of voting with the first one ending this Friday at noon. Quarterfinal voting will end next Monday at noon, and semifinal voting will end Thursday, March 29, at noon. The final round of voting will end Saturday, March 31, at 3 p.m., and the winner will be announced at the closing session of CGI U featuring President Clinton and Jon Stewart at 4 p.m. that day.

The student commitments being featured in the 2012 CGI U Commitments Challenge include:

Panda Cycles
Commitment by: Chris Deschenes (School of Business), Jon Torrey (SEAS) and Matthew Wilkins (SEAS)
School: The George Washington University
Panda Cycles commits to providing sustainable bamboo bicycles at an affordable price in an effort to reduce carbon emissions while also providing a means of transportation to those in developing countries. For every bike sold, Panda Cycles will donate one bicycle to Bicycles for Humanity.

Promoting Electric Street Parking Signs in New York City
Commitment by: Zhuanegzi Li
School: Columbia University
Promoting Electric Street Parking Signs commits to creating a pilot program for using LED-powered electric parking signs to display parking regulations in New York City. Li believes this program will reduce traffic congestion as well as CO2 emissions and hopes to expand the program to other cities throughout the country.

Commitment by: Varun Arora
School: Carnegie Mellon University
OpenCurriculum commits to create the world’s first free K-12 global curriculum using crowdsourcing. Arora envisions the Pittsburgh, Pa., pilot program will liberate critical elements of education from barriers to education throughout the world.

Commitment by: Dhrooti Vyas
School: University of Chicago
Elec-chess-ity commits to teaching young people life skills including concentration, patience and critical thinking through the game of chess. Volunteers will teach elementary and middle school students in both Chicago and Ahmedabad, India.

Commitment by: Derrius Quarles
School: Morehouse College
MillionDollarScholar commits to increasing the academic success of young people, especially those who face barriers to a college education, by increasing access to financial aid and other necessary resources.

Night Night Monster
Commitment by: Delia Mandia
School: New York University
Night Night Monster commits to provide children who suffer from night terrors with a doll to serve as a source of comfort. Mandia hopes to provide children throughout the world with a more peaceful night’s sleep, one doll at a time.

Red to Green
Commitment by: Mihaela Ciulianu
School: University of Baltimore
Red to Green commits to provide financial literacy education to individuals and families so they can better manage their finances. Ciulianu believes this will build confidence, bring families together and forge stronger communities in Baltimore, Md.

Village Zero Project
Commitment by: Kate DeKlerk, Maia Majumder and David Meyers
School: Tufts University
Village Zero Project commits to combat the spread of endemic cholera outbreaks in Bangladesh through cell phone data collection software. With this knowledge, water and sanitation infrastructure interventions can be implemented in the most disease-prone communities, helping to mitigate the spread of infection, which currently impacts more than one million Bangladeshis annually.

Will Work for Food
Commitment by: Caroline Chevat, Andrew Hurwitz, Jonathan Rubins and Anusha Sthanunathan
School: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Will Work for Food commits to stimulate local community service in Ann Arbor, Mich., while raising relief funds to fight child malnutrition abroad. The money raised will help Doctors Without Borders get life-saving nutritional supplements to malnourished children overseas.

Safe Water for 100 Homes on Lingira
Commitment by: Elise Buchbinder
School: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Safe Water for 100 Homes on Lingira commits to provide sanitary drinking water to the island of Lingira in Uganda by subsidizing, directly distributing and monitoring 100 Kosim Water Kegs to the local community. These household filtration systems will greatly reduce health problems caused by the turbid water of Lake Victoria, the only water source for Lingira residents.

Practice Makes Perfect
Commitment by: Karim Abouelnag, Amy Mitchell and Nicolas Savvides
School: Cornell University
Practice Makes Perfect commits to narrow the academic achievement gap by pairing under-achieving fourth graders with high-achieving ninth graders under the supervision of college interns for an intensive academic summer program. They plan to operate four programs that will impact more than 200 students across New York City.

Energy for Opportunity
Commitment by: Kani Keita
School: Harvard University
Energy for Opportunity commits to promote the construction of a Community Charging Station (CCS) in the village of Salamale in rural Mali. A CCS is a solar-powered community center where locals can plug into clean energy for an affordable fee.

Sustainable Living Guide
Commitment by: Ariana Cano, Kaitlin Griffith, Rose Laughlin and Matt Vedrin
School: Florida State University
Sustainable Living Guide commits to expand awareness about the state of sustainability at Florida State University, which will serve as a dynamic source of information regarding the university’s sustainable efforts in energy and water conservation, food services, education, transportation services and waste management.

Distribution of Portable, One-Step Diagnostic Kits
Commitment by: Anirudh Mohan
School: Duke University
Distribution of Portable, One-Step Diagnostic Kits commits to improve the accuracy of liquid morphine dosing in home-based palliative care programs in Malawi through the implementation of our LiquiDose technology. The commitment could provide approximately 10,000 HIV/AIDS and cancer patients with accurate doses of pain-relieving liquid morphine.

National Youth Association Youth Fund
Commitment by: Timothy Hwang
School: Princeton University
The National Youth Association commits to create a youth-led, youth-managed investment and microfinance fund tailored to the specific needs of college students and recent graduates. The organization will raise $500,000 to launch two pilot programs that will offer small business loans and credit builder accounts allowing students to build credit and get access to loans without high premiums.

Commitment by: Nasia Smith
School: Philander Smith College
Prototype commits to mentor and guide young women in Little Rock, Ark., to prevent juvenile delinquency, increase youth self-awareness and help them realize their full potential. Prototype will promote cultural awareness, academic excellence and strength of spirit for young women.

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