The 4th annual summit on innovative philanthropy and social entrepreneurship, Nexus Global Youth Summit, was held from July 23 to 26 in New York. Nexus has been having these summits across the globe inviting more than 2000 young philanthropists, social entrepreneurs and influencers from over 70 countries working to address societal issues and to improve philanthropy and impact investing. The venue for two full days took place at the United Nations Plaza while the opening and closing events were held at the Times Center. As Atlas Corps has been partnering with Nexus to sponsor in-kind service in exchange for admission tickets that are $500, 15 Atlas Corps Fellows were dispatched as delegates to assist in the conventions for one full day and were allowed to attend all other events as needed basis.
Overall, the summit was truly inspiring in many aspects. Especially the ideas that were presented at the opening reception—Geena Rocero’s fight for LGBT rights led to found Gender Proud, and Kosta Grammatis’s zeal for knowledge enabled him to obtain an engineering degree at a college where they had no such major and later established A Human Right to increase Internet accessibility to BoP. In addition to these young pioneers’ strong conviction to overcome their barriers, another highlight of Nexus was that they were able to engage some VVIPs such as the Crown Prince of Norway, H.R.H Haakon Magnus to introduce the movement he is leading, Global Dignity Day, Wendy Copp who founded Teach for All and Kweku Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela.
Two full days consisted of six breakout sessions which allowed participants to chose sessions based on their interest areas: films, human trafficking, philanthropy and impact investing. The four themes seemed quite random and it was difficult to make connections in between them in the beginning, but it later made more sense in how they were all intertwined. As Atlas Corps Fellows were assigned to spend one day either at registration or security, we could select three breakout sessions. Regardless of the size of people participating in each session, the diversity of stakeholders participating was extraordinarily amazing. In DC, I’ve attended quite a lot of gatherings around social investment, but there was never a chance where all stakeholders of social bond issuance were present in one meeting. However, at one of the breakout session I attended which was on SIBs, the d panelists were consisted of representatives of a service provider, Center for Employment Opportunities, a investor, James Lee Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center, and an intermediary organization, Social Finance. The moderator was the head of Impact Investing at the World Economic Forum and what made this session richer was voluntary participation of the mayor of Salt Lake City where they recently issued SIB as well.
Lastly, the youth element of the summit aligned well with Altas Corps. At the closing brunch, Vilas Dhar, Partner of Dharlaw, commented that the visions shared at Nexus tend to be long term. He analyzed that this was due to intrinsic trajectory of youth population. That being said, some keynote speakers present were in their early 40s. Also, the cofounders of Nexus closed the summit explaining that as the events will be maintained continuously for the upcoming years, Nexus is planning to take out the description of “Global Youth Summit” from their brand. It was intriguing to observe how the summit itself was gearing to evolve along with how fresh dreams presented developed over the course of years.