WE SCHOOLS IMPACT REPORT Inspiring Youth in Illinois
WE exists to make doing good, doable and we’re grateful for your decision to be a part of the WE movement. From our humble beginnings as a group of twelve 12-year-olds wanting nothing more than to make a difference in the world, we’re truly grateful for and inspired by each of our supporters who share that passion. Today, we proudly support millions of people, including youth, families, individuals, corporations and other groups on their unique journeys to make a lasting impact through service - we’re thrilled to work with you on yours. Your generous support towards our WE Schools programming in Illinois has empowered positive change that will continue to transform lives for years to come. For that, we can’t thank you enough, and we hope you’ll enjoy reading about the impact your contribution is making. Together we can do more than we could ever do alone. With your help, we are changing the world. Thank you,
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Through your generous support, we are empowering young people in Illinois with the tools and resources to take action and make the world a brighter place.
We are pleased to share with you the incredible impact of our WE Schools programming in Illinois over the 2018-2019 school year, delivering world-class resources for students and educators and creating transformational experiences for youth. Without your support, none of this would be possible. Thank you.
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WE Schools is a year-long educational program that empowers young people to be leaders of social change, challenging them to act with intention and compassion and lead with the conviction that together we can transform communities locally and globally.
WE Schools is implemented in classrooms and after-school clubs. It is a movement of youth and educators who believe that some of the most powerful learning experiences happen when you make a meaningful difference in your communities and for the world.
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In the United States
Thanks to your support, we have scaled the reach of WE Schools across the United States to support diverse youth populations in becoming leaders, change-makers and problem solvers. In the 2018-2019 school year, over 2 million students from more than 6,900 school groups participated in or were impacted by WE Schools—a 18% increase in the number of schools engaged since 2017-2018, and a 65% increase since 2016-2017. In the United States during the 2018-2019 academic year,WESchools created a total social impact value of over $177 million in support of local and global issues. These impacts were created from fundraising initiatives, youth volunteerism and local food collection. As part of our cause-inclusive programs, WE Schools groups supported over 480 local organizations and 2,100 global organizations, totaling over 2,580 unique organizations.
Our WE Schools team has been able to improve engagement with schools and has developed a host of new opportunities, creating positive outcomes for American youth around academic engagement, workplace and college readiness and active citizenship. Of the participating WE Schools educators in the 2018-2019 school year: 85%agreed that their students demonstrate increased leadership among their peers. 84% agreed that their students are more capable of effectively voicing their own opinions. 84%agreed that their students feel a greater connection to their local community. 84% agreed that their students have developed stronger communication skills. 82% agreed that their students are more able to work effectively and respectfully in diverse teams.
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Mather High School
In the 2018-2019 school year, WE Schools groups in Illinois created a total social impact value of over $17.6 million in support of local and global issues.
This impact was generated from three major streams: fundraising initiatives, value of youth volunteerism and value of local food collection.
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In Illinois during the 2018-2019 school year, there were 870 WE Schools groups , involving more than 260,00 youth and over 2,600 educators . The most frequent local issue tackled by WE Schools groups in Illinois was hunger and the most frequent global cause supported was ensuring access to cleanwater . To take action on these issues, the most common initiatives led
by students were food drives, coin drives, class presentations to educate and inform their peers and volunteering within their communities. As part of our cause-inclusive programs, youth supported both local and global organizations through their actions. 86% of WE School groups volunteered and more than 670,000 volunteer hours were registered.
“My eyes continue to be opened when teaching and learning about social change. I find I ambetter able to empathize with others in bothmy personal and professional life. It certainly helps me to be a better teacher.” - Educator, Illinois As part of the WE Schools curriculum, we provide a comprehensive WE Schools Kit with educational resources designed to help educators enhance their curriculum and to broaden students’ knowledge and understanding of local and global issues. These resources include lesson plans, current events articles and blogs, social justice videos and ready-made service-learning and fundraising campaigns to provide tangible tactics for youth to engage on their chosen issues and create action plans for impact. Additionally, program participants have the opportunity to participate in action planning sessions with WE motivational speakers to inspire, explore issues, develop their talents and identify ways to engage their community. For educators, professional learning sessions provide resources, tools, coaching and opportunities for collaboration, to share best practices for engaging youth in service-learning.
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Chicago high school students promote beauty of diversity
By taking portraits of students, members of a Chicago WE Club are showing the good that can come from celebrating our differences.
Hunched behind his camera, Mather High School student Miguel Diaz snaps away as his fellow students rotate through the frame. Miguel and the rest of hisWEClub, headed by art and photography teacher Kara Smith, are celebrating the diversity of Mather by taking portraits of students and pasting them around the school. With over 100 nations represented and 70 languages spoken at the Chicago high school, it is arguably one of the most diverse schools in the United States. The Mather WE Club works to tackle discrimination and promote inclusion through theWE Volunteer Now program sponsored by The Allstate Foundation. The WE Volunteer Now resources help club members brainstorm ways they can make an impact on the causes they care about. By putting the portraits up for all to see, Smith wanted to help students feel included, and show that everyone is welcome at Mather, regardless of race, religion or sexual identity.“Kids can come
from two countries that are at war with each other, but at Mather they’re friends,” says Smith. The diversity of the school has already made its students more compassionate and empathetic toward other cultures and nationalities, and Smith hopes that those who see the photos will further accept and embrace the differences of others. “If everyone could come in and see the peace that we have at our school, they’d see that this is how it’s supposed to be,” says Smith. “It’s sad when people haven’t met someone from one part of the world, so they’re scared of them. If they just were more open-minded and were able to see what we see every day, it really could change a lot of people’s opinions.” The diversity at Mather helped to create a safe space for students by making them more tolerant and understanding of each other’s differences. No matter where they come from or what they’re
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Press play to learn more about the WE Club at Mather High School
going through, be it the citizenship process, fleeing war or learning English, there is someone else who has gone through the same thing. If they can’t share experiences, they can lend an ear to one another’s struggles. “It was breathtaking, really. When I took the pictures for this project, I never in a million years thought that they would be posted somewhere,” Miguel says. “It made me feel proud because I know that it will create some change and show people what we are about at Mather.” Smith plans to continue doing the project year after year as new kids join the club. Miguel hopes that when other schools see the project, they’ll want to emulate it. Being part of the WE Club has shown Miguel that he is part of a bigger world, and that the experiences of others matter. He wants to become a history teacher once he graduates from Mather so that he can be the same guiding light for students that his educators have been to him. He hopes that when
he returns to his alma mater, he’ll find the same celebration of diversity that he experienced as a student, and that his photos will have that legacy. “I still want to see a classroom with 30 different people from 30 different countries sitting together in unity and learning together,” he says. “I hope in five or six years I see 30 other schools doing the same thing, because they also believe in the acceptance of humanity.” To celebrate their project, The Allstate Foundation invited the WE Club to the Chicago Cultural Center to see a new photo exhibit. When they arrived, students were shocked to discover the gallery was full of their own portraits. Miguel was overjoyed to see his photos on display. He hopes that they will show people the beauty of diversity and convince them of the power that it holds to create a better world.
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WE Day is a powerful, life-changing experience with world-renowned speakers and performers, mixed with real, inspirational stories of change. S tudents can’t buy a ticket to WE Day; they earn their way by taking local and global actions through the WE Schools program. On May 8, 2019, WE Day Illinois brought together thousands of youth from across Illinois, to celebrate and honor their commitment to service and creating positive change throughout the year, and to empower these young change-makers to make the world a brighter place. Some of this year’s inspiring guests included Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez, actress and singer Olivia Holt, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Chicago native, leader and activist Bushra Amiwala. Here are some highlights fromWE Day Illinois in 2019:
Teen Isaiah Day inspires youth at WE Day with his message and his dance. Knowing how difficult it can be to express our true selves from his struggles growing up as a male dancer, Isaiah shares his journey and teaches the audience the importance of embracing our passions and having the courage to express ourselves freely—and just how rewarding that can be. Community advocate Carlil Pittman from GoodKids MadCity speaks to youth at WE Day. After losing a young community member to gun violence, the young people didn’t let his death go in vain. They were resilient, driven to make a difference, and harnessed their passions and the power of education to take action, standing together to educate their community and break the cycle of violence. Along with local heroes, WE Day also welcomes celebrity change-makers and world leaders who share their passion for empowering youth to create change. YouTube star Johnny Orlando shared his music and his strong message against cyberbullying: “I encourage people to stand up for what they believe in, to not care what people say. Just do what you love, don’t care what people think about it.”
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Stories of Inspiration
In the spring, kindergarteners, first graders and second graders at Lewis School of Excellence explored the issue of access to clean water. Through reading picture books and participating in classroom activities, they were able to imagine what it would be like to have to travel long distances to reach clean water. To help ensure that young children will not have to make this journey, they decided to organize a coin drive to raise money for WE Villages water initiatives in Kenya. Held in March, their coin drive raised over $300! Lewis School of Excellence Shirland School This year, the students at Shirland School learned about a local boy, Brock Scarpetta, who was diagnosed with an extremely rare disease, Batten’s Disease. There is a treatment available but it costs $2 million. When the students learned about Brock’s situation, they started raising awareness and funds. Their actions included writing letters to Ellen DeGeneres requesting support, sending letters to local organizations and sports teams, and holding a penny drive. They even got professional hockey team the Rockford Ice Hogs to invite the Scarpetta family to a playoff game, present themwith a donation and donate all proceeds of an upcoming game to Brock’s fund. InOctober, high school students at De La Salle Institute researched local causes they cared about and narrowed it down to hunger in their community. In order to help, they decided to organize a mass peanut butter and jelly sandwich-making event. In total, they made nearly 600 sandwiches, and donated them to a local organization, The Port Ministries, which distributed them on their bread truck to community members experiencing homelessness or food insecurity. De La Salle Institute
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Scaling Our Impact
AP® with WE Service
WE has partnered with the College Board to develop enhanced Advanced Placement® Program (AP®) courses that integrate 30 hours of service-learning into the core content of each course. Our exclusive partnership combines the academic challenge and rigor of AP withWE Schools’ service learning and citizenship model. AP with WE Service creates an opportunity for students to work closely with their peers to address complex social issues, and apply content and skills from their AP courses to local and global causes through innovation, creativity and critical thinking. We are excited to introduce this program to Illinois in the upcoming school year.
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WE Well-being is equipping people of all ages with the tools they need to foster social, emotional, physical and mental well-being.
When asked about their first year in WE Well-being... 88% of educators said their participation has benefited them professionally. 85% of educators said their experience was positive or very positive. 80% of educators said they personally used the things they learned through the program to support their own well-being.
We have successfully completed stage one of the WE Well- being pilot. The pilot was developed in collaboration with leading experts and world-renowned organizations to bring the cutting-edge science of well-being into classrooms across Canada and the United States. The WE Well-being pilot involved over 250 educators and impacted more than 7,000 students. The inaugural programwas developed for students in grades 4-6. Modules focused on unpacking social and emotional learning, mental health literacy and the brain science behind mental health research. Educators identified increased empathy, self-awareness, leadership and improved self-image and confidence as the top areas of growth for their students participating in the pilot. One key takeaway was that 88% of educators requested access to resources online, which has allowed us to leverage technology to scale professional learning. With the successful completion of this pilot, we look forward to introducing the program to schools across Illinois.
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Together We Can Change the World
Thank you for your support of WE Schools in Illinois! Together, we are inspiring local youth to take action on issues they are passionate about and empowering them to make a difference in our communities.
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