Last week, the WE organization honored Illinois students during WE Celebrate: Class of 2020, a year-end celebration for thousands of students across the state to commemorate the positive local and global actions they’ve taken throughout the school year.

Hosted by Monique Coleman, students and educators were moved by encouraging words from visionary figures, musicians, sports heroes and celebrities and entertained by one- of- a-kind performances. The WE Celebrate: Class of 2020 in Illinois featured special appearances by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ally Brooke, Sofia Carson, Jordan Fisher, Connor Franta, Skai Jackson, Martin Luther King III, Bailee Madison, Jenna Ortega, Navia Robinson, Jay Shetty, Alexandra Shipp, Ariel Winter and more.

Today’s celebration capped off a week-long virtual road trip with events in Washington, Minnesota and California. The WE Celebrate: Class of 2020 event in Illinois was made possible by national title sponsor, The Allstate Foundation, presenting sponsors, Walgreens and Unilever, and powered by Microsoft.

“In a time when most things are virtual, it’s important to remember what’s real – the spirit, passion and resilience of young people who are changing our world for the better,” said Allstate’s Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Wilson. “WE Celebrate recognizes the accomplishments of the millions of young leaders across our country. It’s vital that we stand with these amazing young people and encourage them to take action.”

A few must-see highlights from WE Celebrate: Class of 2020 in Illinois include:
NBA Champion & All-Star, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, shared his biggest desire for the class of 2020: “My greatest hope is that you will have learned how capable you are from this experience. Your willingness to grow, and learn, at every turn is a mark of true leadership, as your investment in yourself shows the promise to invest in others. And that is success in my eyes.”

Martin Luther King III delivered an inspiring key-note address recognizing students for facing every challenge with a firm belief in themselves and the collective power of their peers: “It is a true honor to celebrate and recognize the class of 2020, who despite the challenges of today, are determined to make a difference in their communities. Young people are leading us into a world where we must not only dream together but work together for a better tomorrow.”

WE Volunteer Now grant recipients, 15-year-old Brayden and his peers from Minooka, Illinois, were celebrated for making a difference in their community. With the grant, they built a free library to encourage literacy in their community by sharing books. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they engaged local police to help sanitize books and keep their new library open.

“Now, more than ever, we need to draw strength from the care and compassion that young Americans continue to show with their actions,” said WE Co-Founder Craig Kielburger. “During these uncertain times, it’s important that we remain dedicated to celebrating students and teachers who have made lasting impacts in both their local and global communities. We are grateful to our partners for joining us along this journey, and deeply honored to recognize the service achievements of young change-makers, while bringing closure to the academic year in a powerful way.”

WE Celebrate: Class of 2020 highlights students and educators who have taken part in the free, yearlong service learning program WE Schools. WE Schools operates in over 20,000 schools and is proven to increase academic engagement, civic engagement and college and workplace readiness. Designed to enhance a school or community’s existing social initiatives or spark new ones, WE Schools provides teachers with educational resources and action campaigns to encourage students to further their curricular learning and develop social and emotional skills to succeed beyond the classroom.

All of the WE Celebrate: Class of 2020 virtual celebrations can be accessed on WE’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

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