On April 30 at Allstate Arena, the newest superstars to take the stage before an adoring audience weren’t chart-topping music sensations. They were everyday young people, who shared their personal stories of volunteerism, generosity and courage to inspire the 15,000 youth gathered for We Day Illinois.
The world’s largest youth empowerment event of its kind, We Day came to Illinois for the first time after eight years of spectacular, daylong “rock concerts of philanthropy” across North America. The world-renowned speakers and legendary performers included Selena Gomez, Jennifer Hudson, Common, Tyrese Gibson, Magic Johnson and Martin Sheen. But for a show this big, money can’t buy you a ticket—students must earn their way to We Day, by performing local and global actions for good.
We Day is an initiative of Free The Children, an international charity whose yearlong educational curriculum aims to empower and activate all young people as philanthropists and agents of social change.
Since 2007, youth involved in the Free the Children initiative have raised $37 million and logged nearly 10 million volunteer hours for more than 1,000 local and global causes. Among alumni of the program, 4 in 5 report that they continue to volunteer 150 hours or more each year.
For The Chicago Community Trust the partnership was a natural fit, with an impact that reaches far beyond the transformational event. Through the Trust’s grant support, the We Act curriculum will be able to reach into some of Illinois’ most underserved schools. We believe that everyone is a philanthropist—and that every child deserves access to the tools and the support to emerge as a leader.
This spectacular day also provided the Trust with more inspiring opportunities for partnership. In lieu of a traditional sponsor message from the stage, students from Albany Park Theater Project took the spotlight instead. They helped spread the word to every young visionary in the audience that their actions make a difference for our shared community.
The Trust also partnered with iconic local artist Matthew Hoffman to design a custom message of inspiration–“What You Do Matters” buttons and T-shirts, to help remind attendees of their power and potential. In addition, local graphic recording service Ink Factory joined the Trust’s booth to illustrate young people’s personal stories of giving back.
As we work to inspire the next generation of philanthropists, we are proud to support We Act and We Day, as testaments to the fact that individual action can change the world—and partnership brings new possibilities to life.