Forbes Spotlight On CFHU's Einstein Youth Forum: Leaders Seek To Inspire Young Geniuses

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Forbes header - Leaders Seek To Inspire Young Geniuses

Sir Ken Robinson speaking during the Einstein Century of Genuis weekend galaGenius is a label thrown around without much regard these days. Kanye West, Quentin Tarantino, and Meryl Streep have all been deemed 'geniuses.'

Now, Quantum Leap Experiment (QLE) is launching the Einstein Youth Forum — a TED-talk for youth — to inspire a new generation to become more than superficial social media influencers.

So how do we find the next Einstein to save the world?


It is a question the Forum's founder Matt Price Gallagher, President, QLE, asks himself daily before he decided to embark on this youth-focused platform. "Corporations need to take a role in solving social issues. We can't rely on government and non-profits," he says.

His day job as a quantum physicist exposed him to the philanthropic world as well as Israel's innovative culture where social responsibility is embedded into for-profit ventures.

"I see what is happening in the world today," he says. "There is nationalism and less inclusion," he says. This year was the perfect time to launch this initiative, noting that it is the 100th anniversary of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, Canada's 375th birthday, Montreal's 150 birthday, and the 50th anniversary of Montreal's World Expo. This confluence of attention was perfect to kickstart this larger mission to inspire and encourage creativity, says Price Gallagher. The event's tagline even played off these elements with "E representing Einstein, M Montreal and C Canada."

The inaugural two-day Forum held in Montreal, Canada in early September invited more than 350 high school students to listen to presentations by thought leaders, industry experts, and even Einstein's cousin, Karen Cortell Reisman.  "I can't explain Einstein's theory of relativity, but I can share a relative's theory on how he can inspire young people to stay creative and unique," she jokes.

This event almost didn't happen. Organizers had less than two months from the idea's conception to execution, but thankfully benefited from aligning with the broader Century of Genius weekend that followed, which celebrated Albert Einstein. That event — hosted by Canadian Friends of Hebrew University, and Lune Rouge — recognized 100 "visionaries" including Deepak Chopra, Nancy Lublin, filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, and educationalist and most-watched TED speaker of all time Sir Ken Robinson, who all contributed to “the world’s first 3D printed book: “Genius 100 Visions.”

At first, it was a challenge to wrangle speakers to attend an unknown inaugural youth event, but with the help of Genius 100 Vision organizers, several agreed to arrive a few days earlier to appear at the Forum. Elan Divon, co-founder of Genius 100 Visions, and his team did an incredible job getting speakers such as Sir Ken Robinson to attend the forum, says Judy Tanenbaum, the Legacy Project's Co-Chair. "Once Ken was on board, it was easy to convince others to follow suit.”

Robinson's keynote address expanded upon the need for everyone to leverage their unique skills to better civilization. "How many people have ever lived on this planet," he asks. No one knows, but estimates range between 80-125 billion. "Every one of us is uniquely unrepeatable." Together we have a tremendous repository of what we can apply it towards, he says. "Catastrophes benefit nobody. Catastrophic companies benefit nobody," says Robinson. "Right now we are pushing ourselves in the wrong direction" but "I think we are up to the challenge."

The Forum also featured speeches from leaders such as NASA's longest serving administrator Daniel Goldin, Quebec's Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation Dominique Anglade and teen innovator Marin Schultz who developed a prosthetic arm that can be moved via remote sensor activity.

While attendees benefited from the inspirational presentations, the broader event served as an opportunity for corporations to align with youth-focused social advocacy. Air Canada, for instance, provided transportation for 22 First Nations students and Best Western hotels hosted the students.

Hebrew University's sponsorship, to that end, helps the school pivot away from traditional fund-raising activities. The group has found it challenging to land money from donors who view it solely as a Jewish organization. However, "Einstein is universally beloved," says Murray Palay of Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (CFHU). He is one of the top three most recognized icons in China. [Hebrew University is like a holding company with various regional associations supporting the main parent company.]

Looking forward, the platform will keep the momentum by expanding beyond Montreal to reach students around the world. "If one does well, others will pick it up and share with everyone else," says CFHU's Monette Malewski.

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