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ARC wins $100K award for 'I am a Star for Somalia' campaign

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Minneapolis News and Weather KMSP FOX 9

MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A Minneapolis-based organization helping people in desperate need across the world is getting a big award for its aid efforts in Somalia, helping to fight famine with colorful paper chains and raising awareness by getting people to become "stars" for Somalia.

The American Refugee Committee faced a daunting challenge with getting people to care about the famine overseas, but they did it by asking people to open their ideas instead of their wallets.

"We can contribute back home in a very positive way," Said Sheik-Abdi told FOX 9 News.

The pictures show it, but Sheik-Abdi has seen it -- and lived it. Now, he is a part of the award-winning effort that built both awareness and funding to fight the famine in Somalia.

"This is really a great day for the Somali diaspora, the Somali people in Somalia," Sheik-Abdi said.

ARC just won the Peter Drucker Award, which includes a $100,000 grant, for non-profit innovation, recognizing its social media campaign called "I am a Star for Somalia." The campaign invites people to do small things to become a part of the big conversation about Somalia.

"It comes down to this idea that so many people want to make a difference in the world," explained Daniel Wordsworth, executive director of ARC. "The intent is there, it is the opportunity that is sometimes lacking. All we're trying to do is let the opportunity be there and people have come in by the thousands."

Last year, two Macalister students started a 5K run for Somalia. This past summer, ARC leveraged 50,000 engagements on Facebook to raise $50,000 for relief in Somalia. Staff members built a paper chain link for each dollar raised, and the campaign gained followers across the globe.

The Drucker Institute dubbed the effort the best social media campaign in the nation, and ARC said the award money will only help advance the cause.

"There's still a lot that has to happen inside Somalia," Wordsworth said. "There's still a lot we feel we can do with the Somali community here, and we think this is a gift that will help that goal."

They're certainly still hard at work. The 5K run started by the Macalister students is now an annual event called the Run to Unite. It will take place on October 20th.


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