Steve had an opportunity to speak with President Clinton about WILL WORK FOR FOOD at CGI U and President Clinton asked that he follow up with more information.
Dear President Clinton,
Thank you for yet another energizing and powerful CGI U experience. I have attended CGI U every year and each conference has been tremendously helpful.
At the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust we spoke briefly about my commitment, WILL WORK FOR FOOD, and you asked that I follow up with some more information about our initiative. I think this is a story you will appreciate.
Before delving into WILL WORK FOR FOOD, I have an invitation to extend to you. On behalf of the University of Michigan, I would like to invite you to join us as a keynote speaker for the University of Michigan’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps on October 13, 14 or 15, 2010. University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, a coalition of University departments, the Brookings Institution and the National Peace Corps Association are planning the event to celebrate President John F. Kennedy’s introduction of the concept of the Peace Corps on the steps of the University of Michigan Union on October 14, 1960. President Coleman has sent a formal invitation to you that expands upon this extremely exciting event and its importance to the University Community.
Just as President Kennedy’s speech inspired University of Michigan students to help work towards the founding of the Peace Corps, the inspiration for me to start WILL WORK FOR FOOD came from the speech you gave at the University of Michigan 2007 commencement when you spoke of the need for “21st Century Global Citizens.” I was a sophomore at the time and your call to action moved me to help find a way to connect local community service to international relief efforts. In your list of challenges facing my generation you included malnutrition while also mentioning the continuing need to help our own local communities. The seed had been planted for the WILL WORK FOR FOOD “Volunteering locally to save children globally” initiative.
Students volunteer in their community and ask friends and family members to sponsor this work with a donation. The money raised helps our partners, Doctors Without Borders, deliver Plumpy’nut and similar life-saving Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food to severely malnourished children. This is all orchestrated through www.willworkforfood.org which serves as a social networking and fundraising tool.
When I attended CGI U in New Orleans, WILL WORK FOR FOOD was nothing more than an ambitious but unfocused idea. By the time I attended CGI U in Austin we had fine-tuned our model and held a soft launch at the University of Michigan that raised over $5,000 in approximately two months. A conversation with Blake Mycoskie in Austin helped us figure out how to expand WILL WORK FOR FOOD to other campuses. With the support of a grant from the University of Michigan Office of the President we began introducing our initiative to 20 high schools and colleges around the country. To date, we have raised over $30,000 with an additional $20,000 of donations coming in by the end of May from schools in Toledo, Ohio and Baltimore, Maryland.
CGI U in Miami was perhaps the most helpful yet. Patrick O’Heffernan, one of the skill session leaders from Socialedge.org, spent an hour and a half with me between sessions critiquing our website and making suggestions for improvement. I was also able to connect with staff from GlobeMED and STAND and will be talking to them this week to learn more about their student-led models so we can borrow ideas as we refine our efforts on other campuses. During the CGI U Exchange we were able to introduce our initiative to hundreds of students from campuses around the world. Most excitingly, you and I had a chance to connect and you asked that I send along more information about our work.
Every year CGI U catapults WILL WORK FOR FOOD forward with fresh ideas and connections. Thank you for creating these CGI U experiences and continuing to be such an inspiration to my generation of student leaders. It would be an absolute honor if you can join us in our celebration of the Peace Corps or if you have any suggestions or opportunities for WILL WORK FOR FOOD.
Co-Founder and CEO