WE Day, an international series of inspiring stadium-sized events, announces the initial list of speakers, performers and presenters attending WE Day Illinois on March 1, 2017 at the Allstate Arena.

Alongside Title Sponsor The Allstate Foundation and other partners, WE Day Illinois brings together 15,000 local change-makers, inspirational speakers and world-renowned performers to celebrate their commitment to taking action on social issues.

• Apply for media accreditation to attend WE Day at we.org/press/we-day-press
• Bios, photos and information for WE Day Illinois available on the WE Day Illinois Electronic Press Kit
• WE Day will stream live at 9:00 a.m. CT on March 1, 2017 at we.org/watchweday
• WE Day Illinois is free to thousands of students thanks to partners led by Title Sponsor The Allstate Foundation

Hosted by Shay Mitchell, a cast of new faces and returning WE Day favorites will take the stage this year, including Buzz Aldrin, Xzibit, Jordan Smith, LaRoyce Hawkins, Monique Coleman, Dante Brown, Arne Duncan, Stedman Graham, Frank Waln, Grace VanderWaal, Silentó, Celebrity Marauders, Spencer West and more. This star-studded lineup will join international activists and WE co-founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger, to share their passion for change and energize the crowd with unforgettable performances and motivational speeches to inspire another year of change.

“I truly believe that youth can do anything they put their minds to. The thousands of passionate young people at WE Day are proof that no one is too young or too small to make a difference,” said actress and global youth advocate, Monique Coleman. “We can all create real change by simply standing up for our beliefs — I’m honored to be a part of this day that invites youth to stand up, inspire change and celebrate their amazing accomplishments.”

WE Day is part of WE — an organization that brings people together and gives them the tools to change the world locally and globally, achieving transformative outcomes for themselves and others. Through the yearlong educational program WE Schools, WE provides schools and community groups with educational resources and student-led campaigns designed to enhance a school’s existing social initiatives or spark new ones. Students involved with WE Schools are challenged to make an impact on at least one local and one global issue, and are supported with curricular resources, service campaigns and mentorship programs to help them become change-makers. To celebrate their efforts, students are invited to WE Day, earning their tickets through action.

WE Day Illinois will bring together students and educators from more than 525 schools across the state. More than half of attendees come from Chicago Public Schools and nearly 70 per cent are low-income youth, all making remarkable social change in their communities. The student council members at Chicago’s Ebinger Elementary, for example, collected food, personal hygiene items, baby supplies, winter clothing and more than 400 toys during their month-long series of service activities called “Four Weeks of Hope,” which supported a neighborhood food pantry.

“The most important message we can tell our youth is to believe in themselves — that they can make a difference,” said Tom Wilson, national WE Day Co-Chair and Allstate’s Chairman and CEO. “Throughout history — from fighting apartheid in South Africa to the civil rights movement in America — young people have helped transform our world. WE Day is about inspiring our next generation of future leaders to step up, get involved in societal issues and make their voices heard.”

In the 2015/2016 school year, schools and groups across the state improved their communities through WE Schools, volunteering more than 385,000 hours and raising over $500,000 in support of 300 local and global causes such as hunger, homelessness, bullying, youth advocacy, education and literacy. Making WE Day a true community celebration of youth taking action, some of these young people will join the celebrity lineup onstage to tell their own inspiring personal stories. One such youth is 9-year-old Jahkil Jackson, founder of Project I Am, an organization that donates “Blessing Bags”, filled with everyday essentials, to a homeless center for those in need. To date, Jahkil has handed out more than 1,600 bags to support his community.

“WE Day celebrates the amazing young people who have taken action at home and around the world, to create sustainable change for a better tomorrow,” said Craig Kielburger, co-founder of WE. “Standing in a stadium full of passionate youth will affirm your belief that real change can happen — and is happening every single day right here in Illinois. This past school year more than 650 Illinois schools in the WE Schools program made an incredible impact in their own backyards and in communities around the world through their commitment and passion for change.”

In a 2015 study, current and former WE Schools participants were 2.5 times more likely to have a long term commitment to a social cause, 2.3 times more likely to use their professional skills to solve social problems and 1.2 times more likely to report they had voted in the prior election than their non-participant peers.

A global movement of 2.4 million young people strong, youth involved with WE have raised $79 million for more than 6,500 local and global organizations, volunteered 27.6 million hours for local and global causes and collected over 9.8 million pounds of food through service learning programs and campaigns.

You can’t buy a ticket to WE Day — students from across the country earn their way by the actions they take on one local and one global cause of their choice. WE Day is free of charge to students and teachers, thanks to the generous support of The Allstate Foundation. The Foundation believes good starts young, and is committed to empowering America’s youth with the strength, confidence and leadership skills to step us as leaders and achieve success in their lives.

WE Day is supported in Illinois by Co-Chairs Tom Wilson, Allstate’s chairman and CEO; Alex Gourlay, president, Walgreens; and Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education and former CPS CEO.

Anyone can find their place with WE and commit to making a change in the world. The first step is to take the WE Pledge at WE.org. By taking the pledge, participants are joining the WE Community and making a commitment to live WE every day. For every pledge taken on WE.org, $10 will be donated to local and global programs.

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