Today, WE Day, a series of worldwide educational events celebrating young people making a difference in local and global communities, along with National Title Sponsor Allstate, bring together world-renowned presenters, speakers and performers to celebrate 15,000 Illinois students and educators from over 400 schools. Students attending have earned their way to WE Day by taking action on issues such as bullying, hunger and homelessness.
Taking the WE Day Illinois stage will be inspiring speakers and performers, including Ciara, Martin Luther King III, Jordan Smith, Paula Abdul, Nico & Vinz, J.R. Martinez, Monique Coleman, Becca Tobin, Kardinal Offishall, Spencer West, international activists and WE Day co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger, and more.
WE Day streams live today starting at 9 a.m. CST at www.weday.com/watch;
Illinois youth have earned their tickets to WE Day by taking action on local and global social issues through WE Schools, a year-round service learning program, which provides a free menu of hands-on, student-led campaigns designed to enhance a school’s existing social initiatives or to spark new ones.
WE Schools helps young people turn the day’s inspiration into sustained service action and together, WE Day and WE Schools are a blueprint for building the next generation of change-makers.
Allstate Chairman and CEO, Tom Wilson, national Co-Chair of WE Day, will deliver a message of youth empowerment to the audience. “Throughout history, youth have taken action to create positive social change. Young people can lead the way and restore hope in our communities – they’ve got the solutions. WE Schools makes that happen. WE Day celebrates their success.”
Young people across Illinois are creating remarkable change through the WE Schools program. For example, students at William H. Taft High School in Chicago collected food items for the needy in their community. This past fall, students trick-or-treated at Halloween for non-perishable food items for a local food pantry. To continue making an impact, the students also teamed up with New Hope Community Food Pantry to collect and distribute food items in their neighborhoods, and they will continue to support community members with upcoming brown-bag lunch and school supply programs.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education and WE Day Illinois Co-Chair, Arne Duncan, will take the WE Day stage to reinforce the educational outcomes of service learning and to honor the school districts, teachers and youth in attendance. “We can’t do enough to celebrate kids who are providing unbelievable leadership and service. Young people have an incredible opportunity to drive the change we need and this is a tremendous group of young people. WE Day is a way to help them, listen to them, and most of all to learn from them.”
WE Day Illinois will energize the crowd through a day of powerful educational speeches, inspirational moments and empowering performances, including:
-Human rights advocate and eldest son of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Martin Luther King III, inspires the audience with a motivating and empower message.
-Spoken word artists, Jamila Woods and youth from Louder Than a Bomb inspire the crowd with a powerful spoken word piece, highlighting the importance of a young person’s voice.
-Grammy® Award-winning singer, songwriter and record producer, Ciara, gets the crowd on their feet to a medley of her chart-topping hits. She will be joined by multi-award winning, non-profit, dance & music theater company, Endure Dance Company.
Making WE Day a true community celebration, local young people with inspiring personal stories will join the lineup on stage, including Raven Smith, age 17, from Morgan Park High School. Determined to change the recent national headlines about violence in Chicago, Raven created “Straight From The Go,” an apparel line with a positive message. Through her brand, Raven showcases Chicago as a world-class city with caring and generous citizens who are dedicated to making a difference.
WE Day will also highlight tremendous local youth leaders supported by Chicago Scholars, Mikva Youth Challenge, local schools and organizations, including ChiArts, Chicago Citizens for Change, Peacemakers Program, Soul Children of Chicago and Young Chicago Authors.
WE Day provides youth with a platform to learn about some of today’s most pressing issues while celebrating this generation’s shift from me to we—toward acting with intention, leading with compassion and believing in the power of community. WE Schools has engaged over 600 schools and community groups across the state, including the 400-plus in attendance at WE Day Illinois. More than half of the students in attendance come from Chicago Public Schools, and over 76 percent are from low income communities.
In the 2014-2015 school year,
83 percent of Illinois educators participating in WE Schools have identified leadership opportunities for their students as a result of the WE Schools program
84 percent of educators said their students saw themselves as part of a broader community
71 percent of educators said the program encouraged previously disengaged youth to become more engaged
A global movement of 2.3 million young people strong, youth involved with WE Day and WE Schools have raised $62 million for more than 2,500 local and global organizations, volunteered 19.9 million hours for local and global causes and collected over 7.6 million pounds of food.
“We believe that, if given the right tools, today’s youth can conquer anything they put their minds to. Annually, 200,000 students coast to coast and around the globe from over 10,000 schools earn their tickets to WE Day by creating tangible benefits for their communities,” said WE Day co-founder Craig Kielburger. “By bringing together thousands of young change-makers today, students across Illinois will know they’re not alone and that collectively, they are making their voices heard.”
WE Day is supported by Illinois by Co-Chairs Tom Wilson, Chairman and CEO, Allstate; Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education; Common, award-winning hip-hop artist, actor and founder of the Common Ground Foundation; Alex Gourlay, president, Walgreen; and Jade Greear, WE Day Illinois Youth Co-Chair.
WE Day is free to the thousands of students and teachers in attendance at WE Day Illinois, thanks to the generous support of National Title Sponsor Allstate, a company that empowers future generations with the strength, confidence and skills to rise up as leaders and realize their potential—and to show the world that g