Devin Lynn
In just a year, Black Hills State University student Devin Lynn’s project of using social media to connect students and entrepreneurs in Uganda with BHSU students and faculty has created a bridge of communication between two continents and has raised nearly $1,500 in scholarships for K-12 students in the African republic.

Lynn, a mass communication and history major from Powell, Wyo., will be sharing his project’s success and goals for the upcoming year during the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) conference this weekend at Washington University in St. Louis. Lynn, who was also invited to the conference last year, will present his project titled Project Global Collective during a Saturday session with 250 students from around the world. Lynn said it is a huge honor to be presenting his work at the international conference. Only 75 of the 1,400 students attending this weekend’s event were recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative through speaking engagements or other honors.

 Black Hills State University student Devin Lynn, third from the left, doing community service with other students during last year's Clinton Global Initiative conference in Washington, D.C.
“This time I will be presenting, which is a whole new thing,” said Lynn, who even has a speech writer for his presentation. “It is a larger crowd than I have ever talked in front of.“

Building on the successful model of the Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together world leaders to take action on global challenges, President Bill Clinton launched CGI U in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. CGI U emphasizes action by encouraging young leaders to take real steps toward solving challenges in the areas of education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.

“It is so interesting to see the scope of projects. There are students who are trying to do something internationally, but there are students who are trying to make a huge impact on their campuses,” Lynn said.

To be accepted to the conference for a second year, Lynn had to show the progress he had made with his initial project and lay out his goals for the next year. He said his project changed slightly from his original idea of using social media to connect entrepreneurs in Uganda with entrepreneurs in South Dakota. After connecting with Jude Muleke, the founder of the Community Based Initiative for Rural Development in Uganda, Lynn decided to make education his project’s priority. “When I submitted my first proposal, I thought it was a great idea, but I started talking to Jude to see what needed to be done first and education was their priority so it became my priority too,” Lynn said.

His project is now a hybrid of his original proposal. Since last spring, Lynn has raised $1,400 in scholarship money for K-12 students in Uganda; set up a social media website and informational blog; and is currently holding a silent auction of handmade Uganda items with the proceeds donated for additional scholarships for students in the African country.

Several handcrafted items from Uganda, including these two bags, are being auctioned off through this weekend on the second floor of Woodburn Hall on the BHSU campus. Proceeds will be donated for scholarships for students in Uganda.
The silent auction will be up through the weekend in the second floor of Woodburn Hall on the BHSU campus.

Lynn’s goals for the upcoming year include expanding educational opportunities including more business education for Uganda entrepreneurs. “Jude is starting a small vocational school out of his living room so I hope to help him expand that a little bit and try to have faculty and students mentor through social media,” he said.

Lynn also has a goal of raising $3,000 in additional scholarships.

At CGI U Lynn will have an opportunity to hear several big names speak on pressing global challenges including Stephen Colbert, host and executive producer of the “The Colbert Report”; Jack Dorsey, co-founder and executive chairman of Twitter, Inc.; and Jada Pinkett Smith, actress and advocate.

On the final day of the conference, Lynn will have the opportunity to participate in a service project where students are put in various groups and sent into the St. Louis community to help people. He did a similar project while at the conference in Washington, D.C., last year. “It is pretty impressive to see the difference a group of people can make in a few hours.”

For more information on Project Global Collective go to the project blog at www.ProjectGlobalCollective.com; the Facebook page www.Facebook.com/projectglobalcollective; or the social media network www.ProjectGlobalCollective.NING.com