CLI’s History

The Congo Leadership Initiative (CLI) is an organization that began at Cornell University (named Cornellians for the Congo) in April 2008. As a student group, Cornellians for the Congo engaged in advocacy campaigns at Cornell and in the Ithaca community in order to promote the Congolese cause. CLI has since expanded beyond the Cornell campus, but is still volunteer- run. Funding has come from religious communities such as Orchard Park Presbyterian Church and Cornell’s Protestant Cooperative Ministries as well as through fundraising ventures on campus.

The Leadership Development Program in Kinshasa is CLI’s flagship effort, and the organization plans to expand this project to its fullest capacity before enlarging its focus to other programs and advocacy. Key partners in Kinshasa make this work possible, and while the direct recipients of our services are the students and educational community of Kinshasa, indirect beneficiaries include all citizens of Kinshasa who hope for a better future for their city and nation.

The mission of CLI is to remove the barriers that prevent the Democratic Republic of the Congo from reaching its potential as a leader among African nations by empowering its young leaders and providing avenues for their successes. CLI’s efforts are aimed at long- term solutions that attack the root of the Congo’s problems. This strategy distinguishes us from other organizations at work in the Congo, most of which focus on “band- aid” solutions that alleviate the immediate situation but do little to promote long- term sustainability. Our strategic approach ensures that investments of time and money are used in the most efficient way possible. We are not necessarily interested in quick solutions, but lasting ones.

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