CGI Convenes in Boston, Sexual Assault and LGBTQ on the Agenda

Today at Northeastern University in Boston, Chelsea and former President Bill Clinton are convening CGI U 2017 with the theme, “Students Turning Ideas Into Action.”

Sounds like great stuff from beginning to end, with sessions on building communities, migrants and refugees, designing projects, raising money, and increasing organizational capacity, to name just a few of the happenings taking place over the three day conference.  A full press release is here.

Because of our interest here at Philanthropy Women in attending to marginalized populations and vulnerable groups, I would like to call attention to the sessions on Sunday, which include LGBTQ equality, homelessness, and campus rape and sexual assault. These three focus areas are particularly important and timely subjects to be discussing, given that the social safety net of health insurance for vulnerable groups is being threatened, the President has taken direct aim at trans people serving in the military, and much concern has been raised about Betsy De Vos’s actions in dismantling protections for sexual assault victims on campuses.

So check out the agenda below on these three issues, and tune in via lifestream.

LGBTQ Equality: Overcoming the Backlash
LOC: Curry Student Center, Ground Floor, WETAddition

The LGBTQ community has made historic progress in achieving greater rights and visibility: there are now 22 countries in the world where same-sex couples can marry, up from zero in 2000. A record number of openly LGBTQ athletes participated at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Yet this progress has also yielded a disturbing backlash: in the U.S., LGBTQ people are more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other minority group, while three in four LGBTQ students on college campuses reported experiencing sexual harassment. Internationally, 76 countries have laws against sexual relations between people of the same sex. To create and sustain more inclusive and equitable environments around the world, it is essential for communities to support victims of abuse and violence and to speak out against discrimination, homophobia, and transphobia.

In this session, panelists and CGI U commitment-makers will explore how to:

Respond effectively to discrimination, hate speech and incidences of violence by creating an environment of safety and equality through safe spaces, support services and displays of public solidarity with LGBTQ coalitions and ally groups,
Develop social media tools and effective storytelling techniques that increase awareness and raise the profile of ongoing challenges and issues affecting the LGBTQ community, and
Support efforts to promote LGBTQ rights around the world, change discriminatory laws and amplify LGBTQ voices to move beyond established workplace protections and transform public attitudes in order to build a true culture of inclusion.


Rebecca Adams, senior editor, Refinery29
Nadine Smith. CEO, Equality Florida
Sam Dorison, chief of staff, The Trevor Project
Blair Imani, executive director, Equality for HER
Schuyler Bailar, first transgender NCAA D1 men’s athlete

Addressing Youth Homelessness in the US
Fenway Center, Ground Floor

On any given night, there are over 500,000 Americans living on the streets, in emergency housing, or in homeless shelters. Twenty-three percent of them are young people under 18, and nine percent are between the ages of 18-24. Many of these youth have fled family trauma or sexual abuse, have aged out of foster care, or have been thrown out of their homes because they identify as gay or transgender. In response, a wide range of social enterprises, volunteer networks, and public-private partnerships are launching initiatives to better address the complex needs of this population. In addition to providing short-term emergency shelter, advocates are looking to connect youth with trauma-informed and gender-responsive services, mental health counseling, and programs that help adolescents stay in school, graduate from high school, and access financial aid for college.

In this session, panelists and CGI U commitment-makers will explore how to:

Ensure that vulnerable youth and their families have access to permanent supportive housing, in order to provide health care, education, and job training services in addition to immediate shelter,
Create individualized, needs-based mentorship programs that are relevant to homeless youth and those transitioning out of the foster care system, and
Expand services and support networks that can enable homeless youth to reunite with their families, including crisis hotlines, street outreach programs, transportation vouchers, and in-home family counseling

Sixto Cancel, CEO, Think of Us
Mariuma Ben Yosef, founder and CEO, Shanti House Association
Nan Roman, president, National Alliance to End Homelessness
Elisabeth Jackson, executive director, Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on Campus
East Village, 17th Floor Ballroom

Almost 20 percent of female students will experience rape or a sexual assault during their time at college, with the majority of student victims knowing their attacker. Yet under 15 percent of sexual assault victims on campus ever report the crime to law enforcement. While less common, and even more underreported, male students are also victimized. Several factors make the university environment distinct in terms of responding to and preventing sexual assault. Universities have a special responsibility to protect their students– whether in partnership with, or independent of, law enforcement. Throughout the process, they must consider the impact of an assault on the victim, the attacker, and the entire school community.

In this session, panelists and CGI U commitment-makers will discuss how to:

Create a culture in which sexual assault is not tolerated, promoting effective bystander intervention, self-defense training, and access to university resources and comprehensive care that support survivors of sexual assault,
Utilize technology designed to provide a confidential reporting platform for college sexual assault survivors and to help schools facilitate the identification of repeat assailants, and
Ensure that campaigns and initiatives against sexual assault on campus are student-driven and rooted in the experiences and perspectives of young people.


Amelia Harnish, senior features writer, Refinery29
Amy Ziering, documentary filmmaker, Chain Camera Pictures
Kim Kirkland, executive director, Oregon State University
Amanda Nguyen, founder and CEO, Rise



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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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