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Mercy Corps wins $400,000 grant from Best Buy Children’s Foundation to expand youth activist network

May 26, 2009

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Exciting initiative on youth education, leadership fights global poverty. Work expands to the Middle East and Scotland.

New York, NY - Best Buy Children’s Foundation has awarded the global relief and development agency Mercy Corps a $400,000 grant to support the Global Citizen Corps, an initiative that equips high school students with critical skills to fight global poverty. This funding will allow Mercy Corps to allow thousands of new students to participate in its youth activist network.

Mercy Corps’ Global Citizen Corps aims to educate, inspire and empower the next generation of leaders to advocate for policy changes that will help root out poverty around the world. The Corps provides educational resources, hands-on guidance and leadership development to train students to serve as effective grassroots organizers on issues such as hunger, education, climate change and HIV/AIDS.

The Best Buy Children’s Foundation grant will permit the Global Citizen Corps to reach its goal of directly training nearly 2,500 young people over the next three years. These peer leaders will in turn influence hundreds of thousands more young people through on-line engagement and advocacy campaigns.

The program has already cultivated a strong, vibrant community of teen leaders though its face-to-face training, online forum and leadership summits. Over the past five years, Corps members have spoken out on these issues in their hometowns as well as in Washington, D.C. They have organized rallies, circulated petitions, met with legislators, spoken to media, raised funds and launched campaigns.

“I am constantly impressed by the energy and immense talent of our youth participants,” said Ai Hirashiki, Director of Youth and Education Programs. “They’re hungry to gain the knowledge and skills to change the world. The Global Citizen Corps is a unique program that channels that passion into concrete ways to tackle the most important challenges of our time.”

The Best Buy Children’s Foundation recognized the alignment between the Global Citizen Corps and its own efforts to empower teens to take action through its online youth forum, which it calls @15.

“We’re thrilled to support this innovative youth program,“ said Jeff Peterson, Director of Community Relations at Best Buy. “The Global Citizen Corps broadens the worldviews and offers invaluable leadership skills to thousands of young people across the country.”

In addition to the expansion funded by Best Buy, Mercy Corps recently increased the geographic scope of the Global Citizen Corps to include young people in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza and Scotland, home of Mercy Corps’ European headquarters. This fall, the Global Citizens Corps plans a series of videoconferences among its youth leaders. This virtual dialogue will allow American, Middle Eastern and Scottish students to exchange ideas and ask each other questions about their advocacy projects.

Mercy Corps recognizes that supporting the Global Citizen Corps is vital to its mission of alleviating suffering, poverty and oppression around the world. “If we want to see lasting change, we need to build a constituency of globally engaged citizens who understand the issues and commit themselves to addressing them,” said Ai Hirashiki.

To learn more about the Global Citizen Corps, visit globalcitizencorps.org.