Blum Center Launches the First UC-Wide Global Poverty Action Day

Liliane Larson
 Blum Center Executive Director Lili Larson speaks at April 19th Film Screening 

On the 19th of April, the Blum Center hosted the campus and local community for a screening of the documentary Poverty Inc. This event was held in tandem with the eight other UC campuses as part of a UC system wide initiative - Global Poverty Action Days - which was the first of its kind, and is expected to occur every year.

More commonly known as GPAD, the idea for the Global Poverty Action Days was conceived by a coalition of students from each of the University of California campuses known as the Student Action Committee for the Eradication of Poverty and Inequality (SACEPI). SACEPI was established with the creation of the Blum Federation in 2016 in response to the growing movement of students across the UC system who have taken up action to advance the causes of equity and social justice in California, the US and the world.

Members of SACEPI met periodically throughout the academic year and in February held regional meetings to discuss planning and implementation of what would be the inaugural UC Global Poverty Action Days. GPAD took place during the week of April 17th and consisted of various events held at each campus, each tackling a different issue area as it relates to poverty and inequality. The pressing matters highlighted were diverse in scope, ranging from the role of technology in tackling the Syrian Refugee crisis, to addressing local and global food insecurity, to how students can drive sustainable production and consumption practices individually and collectively.


Grad Map

The 2017 GPAD map details the various events that took place at each of the UC campuses.


As the UC Davis delegate to SACEPI, undergraduate student Funke Aderonmu contributed to the planning and implementation of GPAD on campus. “I think Global Poverty Action Days is the first initiative I've seen within and across campuses to get students centrally engaged in the conversation around poverty, and I hope it will serve as a launching pad for more campus activities centered on understanding and tackling global poverty” Aderonmu says.

On the UC Davis campus, the Blum Center sought to educate and engage the local community on issues at the intersection of development policy, foreign aid, and global poverty eradication. The event drew attendees from a variety of disciplines, and included a group discussion facilitated by UC Davis faculty, Dr. Monique Borgerhoff-Mulder, a very experienced professor in the field of foreign aid and policy, and Ed Connerley, a former employee to USAID and to the World Bank, with vast international expertise in developing countries. Both analysed the movie critically and answered questions informed by their extensive experience working in the international development arena. The group discussion proved to be quite vibrant, as audience members posed interesting questions and the facilitators provided insight into the complexities of aid, development, and the quest to eradicate poverty. 

During the event, the Blum Center's executive director, Lili Larson, presented a fundraising campaing to support a project spearheaded by a UC Davis alumni to rebuild a library in a Haiti community destroyed by Hurricane Matthew. Carolina Tavaréz is a UCD alumni and a former Blum grant recipient. She started a non-profit to help teach Spanish and construct a library in the Anse-a-Pitres community located on border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Blum Center Faculty Director, Tu Jarvis, expressed strong support of Tavaréz’ project stating that, “The fundraising campaign is linked to a very noble cause. The project will allow for…children in Haiti to have a place to study and learn. The UCD Blum Center is proud to have been a part of this project from the beginning, and now, once again, to be able to extend to others the opportunity to get involved and help.”

With GPAD 2017 officially ended, there has been positive feedback for the initiative and its corresponding event at UC Davis. According to Lili Larson, executive director at the Blum Center, "events such as the screening of Poverty Inc. followed by a fruitful discussion with experts in international development contribute to the dialogue on a pressing matter like global poverty. Initiatives such as the Global Poverty Action Day promote awareness, and that is how change begins."