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Student's Nonprofit Honored

Clinton Global Initiative University to Honor UCR Student's Nonprofit

The Child Leader Project will be recognized for its youth education and empowerment programs in South India and Southern California.

(February 12, 2009)

Samantha WilsonEnlarge

Samantha Wilson

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A Riverside-based nonprofit organization, the Child Leader Project (CLP), has been selected to be highlighted on-stage at the second meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University in Austin, Texas, Feb. 13-15. The CLP, founded by UC Riverside senior Samantha Wilson in 2008, was selected by CGIU organizers as an “exemplary approach to addressing a specific global challenge.”

Wilson, the CLP executive director, will graduate from UCR this spring with a degree in global studies. She will travel from California to Texas with fellow participating students from UCR to participate in the conference and receive the honor. Wilson, 21, has also been selected to present the organization at a table during the conferencewide exchange, showing videos and photos from CLP youth education and empowerment programs in South India and Southern California that have taken place over the last year.

“This is an exceptional opportunity and a real honor for the Child Leader Project -- not only are we active participants and innovators as part of a global initiative, we will be highlighted as one of the new leaders and innovators of that initiative,” Wilson said.

The Clinton Global Initiative was developed as a call to action for college students and universities to tackle global problems with collaborative and innovative solutions. Former President Clinton initiated CGI in 2005, expanding the project to university students in 2008. Wilson participated in CGIU during its inaugural year for her proposal to work with marginalized youth in India.

The Child Leader Project began last year with Wilson’s commitment to create a student-run leadership, higher education, and scholarship program in a rural, lower-caste school run by a microfinance institution in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The program currently has 20 students and will expand this summer to include youth from a child labor rehabilitation organization and an education program for slum and street children. New participants will be mentored by last year’s leadership team.

“Our partner school is advertising our program on its banners and materials as an incentive for the surrounding, poor community to send their youth to school,” Wilson said. “What we are doing is making a difference for those students and families. It gives hope for a better future.”

Indian youth who graduate from CLP’s program, which includes leadership training, conflict resolution, higher education planning and social service, are provided college scholarships as well as given subsidized education with CLP’s partner colleges and universities in Tamil Nadu. CLP partners with universities to lower the fees for CLP students. Along with the university lowering their fees, CLP provides additional scholarships from its fund raising in the United States to cover most or all of the remaining costs of tuition.

CLP has expanded to include Patriot High School in Jurupa Unified School District, north of Riverside in inland Southern California. There, CLP has developed a pen-pal program allowing Patriot High School students to exchange letters and develop friendships with leadership students in India.

CLP will expand this program to an exchange program this summer. This program, “Send US to INDIA,” will select four or five Patriot High School youth to spend 10 days in Tamil Nadu, meeting CLP leadership students and community leaders, and culminating in an international youth leadership conference and Web conference with youth in Southern California. CLP hosted its first international Web conference between Indian leadership students and Riverside community participants on Jan 5.

“This is a community effort. We are a culmination of passionate and generous people in the Riverside community and in organizations across Tamil Nadu that see what we are doing and want it to succeed and impact as many youth as possible with the dream of a different life,” Wilson said.
Samantha Wilson and students on the first day of the leadership program in Tamil Nadu state in August 2008.Enlarge

Samantha Wilson and students on the first day of the leadership program in Tamil Nadu state in August 2008.

Child Leader Project class photo, January 2009.Enlarge

Child Leader Project class photo, January 2009.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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