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February 8, 2013
An Otto Bremer Foundation grant totaling $750,000 is helping globally recognized nonprofit Free the Children launch its programs in Minnesota. Free the Children, founded in Canada by Craig and Marc Kielburger, uses its signature programs—We Act and We Day—to inspire youth to increase their involvement in local and global issues.
We Act is an innovative, year-long service learning program designed to engage schools, educators, families and, most importantly, young people in efforts to make the world a better place. Minnesota Commissioner of Education Dr. Brenda Cassellius has committed to roll out We Act throughout the state’s public school system beginning in the fall of 2013, with the intention of reaching hundreds of schools and tens of thousands of students.
We Day is an extraordinary social change event to be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on October 8, 2013. A crowd of 18,000 students and supporters will listen to speakers and performers including Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, award-winning actress and activist Mia Farrow, and Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum artists the Jonas Brothers. Students earn tickets to We Day through their commitment to take action on one local and one global initiative as part of the We Act program.
The Otto Bremer Foundation has a long tradition of support for youth issues and programming. “Our communities, from the metro areas to the rural heartland, will benefit from the work that Free the Children is beginning in Minnesota,” said Brian Lipschultz, a trustee of the Foundation. “We believe the entire community benefits when youth are empowered to feel that they can make a difference and help shape the future.”
We Act enhances existing service initiatives offered by schools and youth groups and stimulates new efforts. Core program components include service campaigns, action kits, staff support, lesson plans, online resources and social media connections. In addition, selected audiences participate in speaking tours, workshops, leadership camps, mentorships summits, professional development for educators and international volunteer opportunities. Free the Children will work with a diverse group of community partners and local organizations to ensure that the program is inclusive and reaches youth with leadership potential, including at-risk youth.
The Otto Bremer Foundation joined with a number of Minnesota-based corporate and philanthropic institutions, including General Mills, the Edward J. Phillips Family Foundation, the Carlson Family Foundation and Bremer Bank to make this statewide launch possible. Minnesota is only the second state to welcome this service learning initiative. Free the Children will use the Minnesota experience as a national model as it introduces the program to other states.
A Free the Children news release provides additional information about the 2013 We Day in Minnesota.