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Miami Dade College Students are One Step Closer to Turning Their Ideas into Action through Participation in the Clinton Global Initiative University


MDC CGI U Students: Alexandra Castillo Escobar, Kristen Solorzano, Randy Diaz, Francia Alexandre, Nicole Reyes-Palma

Miami, February 26, 2014 - Sixteen passionate students from Miami Dade College (MDC) will have the opportunity to turn their ideas into action. This group of budding social entrepreneurs will join more than 1,000 next-generation leaders from other top institutions of higher education from around the world at the seventh annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting in Tempe, Arizona, March 21-23. MDC is one of only two community colleges among the current CGI University Network.

Launched in 2007, students, youth organizations, topic experts, and celebrities come together at CGI U meetings to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. The meeting will assemble innovative students who have made Commitments to Action, new, specific, and measurable plans to address global challenges. Students create commitments aligned with CGI U’s five focus areas: education, environment and climate changes, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.

Among the more than 1,000 attendees expected this year will be North Campus student Lunicel Polanco. This freshman created “Helping Hands Food & Resale Pantry,” a Commitment to Action that aims to distribute food to economically-challenged students at MDC’s Carrie P. Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center.

“As a young adult and a student leader, I believe that the biggest issue facing America is poverty,” she said. “I never knew that many of my fellow students face homelessness and poverty while simultaneously trying to get an education; some while living in their cars...I want to help college students by providing them with basic food staples to help sustain themselves on a weekly basis, enabling them to concentrate on their studies and achieving their goals.”

Another commitment, Tree0Thrive Gardentops, wants Miami-Dade County to serve as a residential horticultural model of the world. Composed of Kendall Campus’ Rene Betancourt, Chris Cuesta, and Giancarlo Aguilar, this group aims to bring green roof technology to South Florida. They point out that standard roofs consume energy inefficiently, create urban heat island hot spots, and contribute to flash flooding. They further assert that green roofs don’t only address these issues, but also improve aesthetics, public health, air quality, and the ability to grow your very own gardens.

“Although green roofs have been around for many years, they are nearly nonexistent in Miami,” they said. “This is unacceptable for a tropical city on the vanguard of design and international acclaim.”

The students intend to install green roofs on four types of buildings including low/high density residential, commercial, and institutional buildings which will make the benefits of green roofs more accessible, paving the way for a more sustainable Miami.

During the three-day meeting, students will have the opportunity to attend plenary sessions and other special events, network with their peers, build skills, and identify potential partnerships to help them gain skills and knowledge needed to take action on their commitments.

“We are very proud of the 16 MDC students whose Commitments to Action, due to the quality of their ideas, were selected by CGI U to join President Clinton and other world leaders at the meeting,” said Josh Young, director of MDC’s Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy. “Their project ideas are exciting, innovative, and give us all hope for a brighter future.”

MDC and its President, Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, have been close collaborators with the CGI in the past. In fact, President Padrón has pledged $17,000 in seed money to help these students attend the conference and turn their ideas into action.

Past CGI U commitments have included a lightweight water bag that provides drinkable water in disaster zones, job training for survivors of brothel slavery, and a low-cost wheelchair designed for the developing world, among others.

About CGI U

The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) brings together college students to address global challenges with practical, innovative solutions. CGI U participants do more than simply discuss problems – they take concrete steps to solve them by creating action plans, building relationships, participating in hands-on workshops, and following up with CGI U as they complete their projects. Since 2008, students have made more than 4,000 Commitments to Action. Previous CGI U meetings have taken place at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, the University of California at San Diego, the George Washington University, and Washington University in St. Louis, and have convened more than 5,500 students from over 800 schools, 130 countries, and all 50 states. To learn more, visit

To learn more about CGI U, please visit

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Roxana Romero, 305-237-3366,, media specialist
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist
Kai Hill, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482,

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