Global Engagment Summit: A Light of Hope in a Gray Year

BlogHer Original Post

Wellesley College student, Catlin Powers, is the co-founder of One Earth Designs. The organization helps Himalayan communities, "achieve their unique visions of sustainable living through science/engineering education and infrastructure development." 

Lori Hanna
is one of four college students from the University of Dayton who founded Salud del Sol. Salud del Sol's mission is to, "provide communities in Nicaragua with the opportunity to improve their own healthcare systems while supporting sustainable development that creates jobs for members of these communities."

Lauren Vegter, a Sloan Management Science and Operations Research student, is one of the founding members of MIT International Development Consulting. MIT IDC's mission is to, "improve the efficiency and sustainability of international development efforts using the business knowledge and engineering talent of MIT students."

 These young women were just three of 80 student social entrepreneurs who attended the Global Engagement Summit last week at Northwestern University in Chicago. The delegates represented 17 countries and 40 universities with projects in 43 countries.

During the capacity building conference, students took "core curriculum" workshops that covered asset-based community development, grantwriting, impact assessment and metrics, and mission and vision development. They also took workshops related to challenges in grassroots development, innovations in social change, social change tools (like blogging!), and business skills.

I was lucky enough to attend GES as a blogging workshop facilitator and student mentor, along with over forty session leaders from organizations like the Acumen Fund, Global Citizen Year, Social Capital Media, Fast Forward Fund, World Vision, GlobalGiving, Ashoka,, the World Bank, and many more.

Needless to say, it was an awesome experience!

I came away from the event hopeful and energized that so many young people not only have ideas for how to make the world a better place, but also have the skills, energy and support to make their ideas real. When I came back to California from Chicago it really felt like spring, not just because the sun and flowers were out, but because in spite of all the terrible things happening around the world right now, I know that there are young people who are undaunted by today's challenges, and are using their skills to make the world a better place.

If you'd like to read more about the conference, check out Nathaniel Whittemore's Social Entrepreneurship blog on He's the founding Director of the Center for Global Engagement at Northwestern University. Patrick O'Heffernan also blogged from the event on his Social Edge blog, Dr. O on Funding.

I'd encourage you to check out fellow GES facilitator Kjerstin Erickson's blog, Forging Ahead, on Social Edge too. Kjerstin founded FORGE, an organization that works with displaced communities in Africa, when she was 20 in 2003. Like most of the young people I met at GES, she is a *sparkly* person.

BlogHer Contributing Editor, Britt Bravo, also blogs at Have Fun * Do Good and is a Big Vision Consultant

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