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Ideas for Changing the World

Former President Bill Clinton met with college students in New Orleans to discuss changing the world

By Abigayle Lista | null null , null
Tony Anderson and Marcus Penny from Morehouse College with Former President Bill Clinton. (Photo courtesy Gina Robinson-Lista)
Tony Anderson and Marcus Penny from Morehouse College with Former President Bill Clinton. (Photo courtesy Gina Robinson-Lista)

During the weekend of March 15, former President Bill Clinton met with 700 college students from the United States and around the world for one purpose: to work on making the world a better place for all of us.

University leaders, as well as leaders from around the world, participated in the first-of-its-kind conference, which was called Clinton's Global Initiative University. The main areas the conference focused on were energy and climate change, poverty alleviation, global health, and peace. Participants came together to show how even small actions can make a big difference.

Each student chosen to participate in the weekend conference had to propose projects that would make a difference in one of the focus areas. All weekend, students attended working sessions geared to showing people how to make big changes in the world with rather small actions.

President Clinton highlighted the proposal of Tony Anderson and Marcus Penny from Morehouse College in Atlanta. Their project, known as "Let's Light a Million," will begin by replacing 26,000 light bulbs in low-income houses in Atlanta with compact fluorescent bulbs. Their goal is to change more than a million bulbs in poor areas over the next four years.

Mr. Anderson and Mr. Penny also want to set up field teams to personally install the bulbs and track their usage. These teams would conduct energy audits that connect underrepresented communities with environmental social organizations to help reduce utility bills.

Kid Reporter Abi Lista with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
Kid Reporter Abi Lista and her mom, Gina Robinson-Lista, with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. (Photo courtesy Gina Robinson-Lista)

President Clinton said, "If every home in America would change one light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, we would save enough energy to light 3 million more homes for a year and save $6 million in energy costs. This would also prevent 800,000 carbon units of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere."

The conference ended with the participants working together on a community service project in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood with actor-turned-activist Brad Pitt's project, "Make it Right." The Lower Ninth Ward was one of the worst hit areas by Hurricane Katrina.

Participants walked the streets with shovels and rakes, clearing the sidewalks and drains covered with grass. The volunteers also prepared the land for homes to be built. The participants went away from the weekend energized and ready to enact positive social change.

About the Author

Abigayle Lista is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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