Posted by Ashray Reddy on November 1, 2018
In October 2018, the University of Chicago hosted the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), which was founded in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. More than 1,000 undergraduates and graduates gathered to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation helped coordinate the event, which received support from Tandean Rustandy, ’07 (AXP-6), a longtime supporter of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Rustandy Center.
The amazing experience I had at the Clinton Global Initiative University all started with being locked in a meeting room in downtown for 72 hours.
Along with two classmates (and future cofounders), we tirelessly worked on the Aspen Case Competition, a hands-on experience that challenges MBA students to weigh corporate profitability with positive social and environmental impacts. The experience made all of us want to do more for our community. After tossing around some ideas, the first iteration of MeaningFull Meals was born.
MeaningFull Meals aims to end food insecurity on a local level. Nearly 1 in 8 people in the United States is food insecure. To combat this, we created a platform to allow people to give back to their community. When people order a meal from our partner restaurants, an extra $0.33 is donated by the restaurant to MeaningFull Meals. Our responsibility is to redistribute funds to those in need through our nonprofit partners. By making small changes, together we can make a large impact.
Soon after, we learned about the Clinton Global Initiative happening at University of Chicago. We were immediately drawn to the program, as it would give us validity as we started talking with nonprofit partners and restaurants. We applied and were so excited when we found we were accepted! Unexpectedly, the structure and support by the Clinton Global Initiative mentors and community proved just as valuable to our mission as the validity of the program. Our commitment mentor, Tsion Tesfaye, gave us guidance on our commitment. And the CGI U Commitments Challenge, which allowed student teams to raise funds, gave us a framework to raise over $11,000 to help get our nonprofit off the ground.
The day before CGI U, we found out we won the CGIU Commitments Challenge. It was such a surreal moment, hearing my name being called by Chelsea Clinton and walking on stage in front of thousands of people! (Backstage, we were just feet from Hillary and Bill Clinton.) We were thrilled to be recognized by people who’ve had such a positive impact on so many social issues across the world.
The event itself was simply incredible. Mentors, speakers, and world leaders shared compelling advice and stories, and the interactions and feedback from other students were just as, if not more, mind blowing.
An event like this makes you realize that many of your challenges are not as unique as you thought. By reaching out to others tackling similar issues, you can all work together to find solutions. I left the event feeling very optimistic about the future. Social entrepreneurship work can feel isolating, sometimes feeling like we aren’t making enough impact. But listening to the Clintons, hearing from the panelists, and talking with other students gives me hope.
If we all start making small changes as a society, we can make a large impact and better our world for everyone.
About MeaningFull Meals:
Our mission is to eliminate food insecurity starting on a local level by empowering consumers to give back to their local community through restaurants. We provide a platform for businesses to display local pride and facilitate consumer action. By making small changes to their purchasing habits, people can help communities band together to strengthen those around them. MeaningFull Meals includes four team members and Evening MBA Program students: Ashray Reddy, cofounder/CMO; Connor Blankenship, cofounder/CFO; and Rebekah Krikke, cofounder/COO. For more information, visit www.meaningfullmeals.com or you follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @meaningfullmeal