President Bill Clinton established CGI America in 2011 to address economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement Commitments to Action that create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States.
On June 7-8, President Clinton hosted the second meeting of CGI America in Chicago. This working meeting convened nearly 1,000 leaders representing the private sector, nonprofits, foundations, and government, including governors, mayors, and members of the Obama Administration. Over two days, participants heard from thought leaders and engaged in Working Group sessions that generated ideas for concrete, immediate action to improve the U.S. economy.
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.
Attendees of CGI America 2012 made more than 50 new Commitments to Action, valued at more than $1 billion. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will create more than 32,000 jobs and fill more than 500,000 vacant positions in the United States. Some commitments will improve access to capital and financial services or provide job training and certification. Many scale existing successful initiatives, while some represent new partnerships across different sectors and industries. Additional commitments are currently in development, including many that originated from connections made in the Working Groups at the 2012 meeting.
A Commitment to Action — the defining feature of CGI — is a plan for addressing a significant challenge area. Commitments can be small or large and financial or non-monetary in nature.
Each CGI commitment must meet three criteria: 1) It must present a new approach to a major challenge or an expansion of a successful program.
2) It must outline a specific approach that has clear and feasible objectives within a defined period of time. 3) It must have measurable quantitative and/or qualitative goals.
Participants of CGI America 2012 each contributed to a topic-specific Working Group of their choosing. These groups convened multiple times over the two days of the meeting, and provided opportunities to share knowledge, build partnerships, and generate commitments around each Working Group’s area of focus.
Below, download individual PDF highlights from each 2012 Working Group or view all as part of the downloadable 2012 Meeting Report.
There were a total of 112 Commitments to Action made as a result of the 2011 CGI America Meeting. More than half of these commitments were made after the 2011 meeting, building off connections and strategies that developed out of the meeting’s Working Groups.
In April 2012, commitment-makers submitted progress reports to CGI, where they measured the success of their commitments against original stated goals. These reports also documented challenges and highlighted potential partnership opportunities. While the majority of commitments made in 2011 had projected timelines of 2–5 years, seven commitments reported completion. As a result of these reports, a number of commitment-makers were asked to present their progress on-stage and throughout the 2012 CGI America Meeting.
Opportunity Fund, California’s largest nonprofit microlender, made a commitment at CGI America 2011 to increase its lending to small business owners by 60 percent and significantly scale its operations in the Los Angeles area after traditionally focusing most of its loans on Bay Area small businesses.
At CGI America 2012, Eric Weaver, CEO of Opportunity Fund, announced that their goal was surpassed by increasing their microlending by 90 percent with their expansion. He projected that borrowers will have a business survival rate of more than 90 percent and that their businesses will create or sustain an average of 2.4 jobs each. He was joined by Natasha Case, a microloan recipient who is the co-founder of Coolhaus. She shared how two Opportunity Fund loans had helped her business grow; Coolhaus now employs 55 employees in five U.S. cities.
At CGI America 2011, Year Up committed to adapting its successful direct service program to create a learning pathway for low-income young adults that closely links college and employment. Called the Professional Training Corps (PTC) and modeled on the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), the program resides within a community college and helps students both earn an associate's degree and gain significant, relevant work experience. Through this five-year commitment, Year Up will directly serve 300 young adults and develop a model capable of scaling to serve 100,000 students annually, while also meeting student outcome targets and attaining long-term financial sustainability.
Year Up reported on the progress of its commitment at CGI America 2012, announcing the continuation of the pilot program in Baltimore and expansion to Miami Dade College in Florida. Ky Smith, an alumnus of the program, spoke about how the experience impacted his life.
At CGI America 2011, Visa Inc. and Kiva launched “Kiva City,” which extends Kiva’s Internet-based lending model to underserved communities in the U.S. and aims to double, in two years, the $1.7 million in loan volume Kiva has already achieved in the U.S. Through Kiva’s online platform, thousands of Americans, as Kiva users, have the opportunity to support U.S. small businesses.
Detroit was the first Kiva City, followed shortly by New Orleans. As part of the U.S. expansion efforts, Kiva formed deep partnerships with community-based organizations and financial institutions, which have aided in marketing to and pre-qualifying potential loan candidates, providing workforce development training, and implementing financial literacy education. As of April 2012, more than $1 million in loans was dispersed to 181 entrepreneurs across the U.S.