MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new campaign hatched in Minneapolis is tapping into one of America’s most powerful demographics to help put an end to youth homelessness.
There are an estimated 2 million homeless youth in North America right now. About 57 percent of homeless kids spend at least one day every month without food.
“I think the most striking thing is that most are homeless for reasons out of their control,” said Julie Vessel, the group account director for Minneapolis-based ad agency, Mono.
People post and spread funny stunts and pranks on the Internet everyday — especially the millennial generation. And now, that generation in their teens and twenties is being tapped to end youth homelessness.
“Their understanding of technology makes them an incredibly influential group,” said Larry Olson, ‘Do Whatever It Takes’ campaign creator. “How can we harness that? What are they doing that we can bake in this idea that’s going bring this cause to life?”
That’s how the program “Do Whatever It Takes” was born.
Mono created the site, where people can pledge money towards what they call a “Whatever.” That might be anything from shaving your hair into a mullet, to spending a day in a tree, to wearing 80s style dresses to a dance.
Pledgers agree to do “whatever” if they raise enough money. Then, that money helps organizations like The Bridge For Youth in Uptown, a shelter that provides a roof, food, support and safety for homeless youth.
“It’s not kind of the stereotype someone sitting on the street with bags around them, looking disheveled. It looks just like my child, your child, anyone’s child,” said Nikki Beasley, who works at The Bridge For Youth.
At their organization, $0.82 every $1 goes to the kids. That’s why every dollar raised counts. Giving $25 buys a backpack, hygiene kit and school supplies and $100 buys a month’s supply of food or a transit pass to get to school or work.
Even campaign creator Olson pledged to do a whatever — he shaved his eyebrows. That stunt raised $600 toward food, school supplies, clothes and much more for a homeless youth.
They’re hoping more of those influential millennials follow suit.
“It just was natural for us to create a site that made them the hero and took the power of their networks and put it to some good,” said Vessel.
Do Whatever it Takes has raised $40,000 since its launch in November. The campaign goes through January and anyone can pledge. Click here for more information.