Seeds of Fortune at CGI U
By Nitiya Walker, Babson College Undergraduate student.
1,100 innovative student leaders, 700 commitments to action, 3 days, and 1 university brought together future ideas that could possibly enhance our world’s next generation of leaders.
The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) focuses on areas of education, environment, climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. This year a program that I started, Seeds of Fortune, was chosen as one of the participants. We strategically assist young women in finding and applying to scholarships for college to alleviate student loan debt. At the start of our program every young women receives a college mentor and upon completion of freshman year one participant is awarded $500.00. Our goal is to assist women of the African diaspora to achieve financial success throughout college.
Attending CGI U allowed our organization to network, understand fundamental strategic methods to grow our organization, and find allies who could advance our cause. During breakout panels, I was able to network and learn valuable advice from key leaders in the field of financial literacy education like: Reeta Roy, CEO of the MasterCard Foundation, Lisa Miller the Chief Growth Officer of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and Jessica Hansen the Education Development Manager for Kiva. However, the most important allies that I encountered were my peers. Just being around students who were creating innovative and spectacular changes in their focus areas inspired me to keep going with my organization.
For future CGI U participants it is important to be tactful with a touch of tenacity. You will meet hundreds of people. Some of them may be promising leads but some of them might honestly be dead ends. It is important to continuously follow up with those you connected with at the conference. You can add them on Facebook, acquire their email addresses, as well as phone numbers to stay in touch. Your mentors, peers, and corporate advocates can take a mustard seed idea and bloom it into a beautiful flower.
Since the conference, Seeds of Fortune has grown tremendously! We have achieved multiple goals such as gaining partnerships with companies like the New York Times, receiving valuable advice from corporate leaders and providing mentors for our scholars. 3 scholars have graduated out of our program who earned a combined $38,000.00 in scholarships, and we’ve raised enough money to cover our scholarship fund and program expenses thus far at $1,800.00.
The road of social enterprise can be a discouraging, rocky process but it is most important to continue to believe in your dream and commitment. Attending CGI U this year was a great support for this as it connected me with allies for Seeds of Fortune as well as other social innovators working hard to make their dream a reality.