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.

Comments (5)
  1. Bruce J says:

    What is with these charities that ask for pledges to do useless things?

    Instead of donating $1000 for someone to sit in a tree or shave a mullet, how about $1000 to have someone shovel snow for an elderly person, or deliver meals to a poor family, or something else of value, and then deliver the money for the homeless cause, or breast cancer, etc.

    Same goes for these endless walks and marathons; yes it raises money, but money could be raised on top of putting all that effort into something that benefits a person or family in need.

    1. Carol says:

      It’s a “Whatever”, the person choises what they want to do. Those are just examples that can be done.

  2. Mehmet says:

    Robert THANK YOU so much for rnirmbeemeg those forgotten. The weather here in Santa Cruz CA has been unseasonably warm and beautiful, and we’re relishing our false Spring , so it was a good reminder for me that it’s still winter in the northern hemisphere and the storms are raging elsewhere, leaving many of the the homeless in dire straits. Bloomberg’s egregious hypocrisy does not become him, but I’m glad to hear that funding for LGBT youth services has been restored. I pray that such funding remains intact all around the country in these times of slashing budgets.Peace to all,Connell

  3. Elafret says:

    Thank you for inviting me to pticraipate, with you, on this journey! I think what you, and the other people in your 5 days group, are doing is incredible. As I mentioned to you yesterday, I know of young adults who I have taught who had ended up at YESS and the importance and impact it had on not only their life, but their actual existance.You’re absolutely right, these kids don’t go their by choice of lifestyle . Most of them end up there because it’s a safer alternative (both physically and mentally) than their life as they know it.Once again, I am so very proud of you and your choice to live this out. You ARE standing up for something you believe in but I’m right there with you, throughout this experience.Love, Mom

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