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Istanbul Bilgi University Hosts Significant Gathering of Young Leaders from Around the World

BALTIMORE, Oct. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Twenty social entrepreneurs from 16 different countries were named the 2012 Laureate Global Fellows today at a conferring ceremony on the campus of Istanbul Bilgi University for their impact on local communities on four continents. Capping off a weeklong training retreat, the 20 fellows were recognized for their achievements in social inclusion, environmental awareness, economic empowerment, education and civil engagement. Eight of this year's Global Fellows had previously been acknowledged by Laureate-based national YouthActionNet® programs. Of the eight, two have started teaching at Laureate institutions since becoming fellows, one will enroll as a master's student this fall and one is currently studying at Istanbul Bilgi University, an institution acknowledged for encouraging innovative and progressive thought.

The Global Fellows program was created in 2001 by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) as part of its YouthActionNet® program, with the Sylvan/Laureate Foundation becoming the lead sponsor in 2011. Each year, 20 individuals, ages 18–29, are chosen from countries around the world for founding or co-founding social enterprise programs that have been in operation for a year or more. Both students and private citizens apply and are selected by a panel of experts representing the public, private and nonprofit sectors as well as the previous year's fellows. To date, 220 initiatives have been recognized and more than 220,000 people have benefitted.

"Istanbul Bilgi University provides the ideal backdrop for such an event," said IYF President and CEO William S. Reese. "Such a university setting encourages collaboration among our impressive fellows and students, fostering new ideas that may have otherwise not come to fruition. Laureate has been a catalyst for this program, not only by helping to expand and sustain the Global Fellows but also by providing a setting conducive to this weeklong  retreat."

Among the Laureate Global Fellows who have undertaken projects with significant local community impact is Gokden Ipek Yosunlu, a 21-year-old woman from Istanbul Bilgi University who started My Mother's Rug. The My Mother's Rug program empowers low-income, rural women to make rugs out of recycled fabric and connects them with urban markets, providing them with economic independence and income to support their families. Other fellows have utilized the Internet to connect and mobilize people, founded local organizations that provide education to rural communities, promoted the use of bicycles as a way to better both people and the planet and engaged thousands of people to help save the Amazon.

"Unlike many others, these bold young leaders recognized the problems facing their communities, challenged these accepted norms and provided pragmatic, successful solutions," said Douglas L. Becker, Chairman and CEO of Laureate Education, Inc. "As Laureate continually strives to be here for good, we are proud to support the YouthActionNet® Global Fellows program, which equips these young pioneers of social change with the tools they need to sustain and scale their initiatives. Through our commitment to the Laureate Global Fellows program, we are enabling them to have a far greater impact on society and future generations."

During their week in Turkey, the Laureate Global Fellows received intensive training on skills relevant to their work, such as fundraising, team-building and program sustainability. They also met and shared their knowledge and experiences with hundreds of Bilgi students through a town hall forum and separate classroom visits.

About Laureate International Universities

Laureate International Universities is a trusted global leader in providing access to high-quality, innovative institutions of higher education. The Laureate International Universities network includes more than 60 accredited campus-based and online universities. Our more than 740,000 students are part of an academic community that spans 29 countries throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Laureate universities offer hundreds of undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs in fields including architecture, art, business, culinary arts, design, education, engineering, health sciences, hospitality management, information technology, law and medicine. President William J. Clinton, 42nd president of the United States, serves as the Honorary Chancellor of the Laureate International Universities network, a role in which he offers advice on social responsibility, youth leadership and increasing access to higher education. For more information, visit


SOURCE Laureate Education, Inc.