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Students unite over passion for social entrepreneurship at national conference

By Robert Marchini
On April 24, 2014

  • From left. Jess Roberts, Lilith Winkler-Schor, Jennifer Rosenthal, Hannah Silver and Juan Fernando Gomez. The students attended the Clinton Global Initiative University conference in Phoenix

Nine Tulane students attended the Clinton Global Initiative University conference at Arizona State University in Phoenix this past weekend. Though they didn't know each other before the conference, they now share a close bond and a passion for social entrepreneurship.

The Tulane attendees didn't realize so many groups associated with Tulane were represented until they began traveling.

"We just all happened to sit next to each other on the plane and realized we were all groups from Tulane," freshman Lilith Winkler-Schor said.

CGIU is a conference where individuals involved in social entrepreneurship projects come together to exchange ideas.

"You apply with a commitment, a project you want to pursue, and you only go if you were accepted," senior Hannah Silver said.

The conference focused on five main areas: education, environment and climate change, poverty alleviation, peace and human rights, and public health. It included both a competition, where the best ideas could receive grant money, and a forum for exchanging ideas with other social entrepreneurs.

"On the one hand, it was a competition," junior Jessica Roberts said. "On the other hand, whoever wins [will] be doing good in the world, so it's kind of hard to be a competition. They're all aiming to benefit the world in some way."

Roots of Renewal, one of the Tulane-affiliated groups, received a $7,500 grant in the competition.

All of the attendees from Tulane said local organizations and projects could benefit from increased Tulane involvement and student awareness.

"The fact that it wasn't advertised despite the fact that we have such an active social innovation sector on campus is surprising," Rosenthal said.

Other attendees recognized Tulane because of this active social innovation sector.

"Many people from many different schools, when they saw you were from Tulane ... had a good idea about the school because it has a good reputation," sophomore Juan Lopez said. "When they knew you were from Tulane, they knew you had been involved."

The students returned to Tulane with lasting memories of their experiences at CGIU. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recognized Roots of Renewal in a speech.

"We got a shoutout in a plenary by Hillary," Winkler-Schor said.

All the attendees said they left CGIU anxious to continue their work.

"I remember that was inspired, I said 'I want to save the world'," Lopez said.


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