I'm going to make an appeal, so get ready.
Before 9th grade, I had never met someone who wasn't a Christian, and only a handful of people who were of color. I never heard a second language other than English, and the most "ethnic" my ethnic food got was Italian. What changed this? Model United Nations at my high school, Cambridge-Isanti H.S. Model UN has changed my life, and I'd like to tell you about it.
I didn't have a terrible life growing up, but things get hard when one parent works two full time jobs and the other has a terminal illness. Many days, it was just my little sister and I, and we did what we could to stay engaged and keep up with school and our friends. For her, sports made the difference. But I was the nerdy kid, and didn't have anything close to athletic talent. It was thanks to an invitation to join the Model UN team, a kind of debate club, that changed my life. It taught me how to research, think critically, fight passionately for those who need the most and have the least, all while keeping my grades up.
Almost fifteen years later (!!!), I find myself with my dream job; working for the United Nations Association of Minnesota, where we have served nearly 30,000 students over the past decade in the Twin Cities area with Model United Nations programs. These programs are really important, and help kids build strong skills in communication, team building, public speaking and research. They build character, promote diversity and inclusion, and force kids to challenge their own beliefs in order to find better solutions for the world's problems. These conferences aren't easy; they're hard as hell but kids from the 8th grade and up work themselves to the bone to succeed.
If you're still reading, there's more. I met some of my best friends through Model UN. I know friends who got married thanks to Model UN. I know people who have gotten through the worst parts of their lives and out of some terrible living situations thanks to programs like ours. Model UN makes a real difference in a child's life.
Now for the appeal: our programs through the UNA MN Model UN Program are less than $50 per participant. The average cost for a program like ours is greater than $300. Our budgets are tight every year and we cannot afford to hire the staff we would need to reach even more. We depend on volunteers and donations to keep pace with rising costs. We are an accessible, affordable and engaging group of young leaders humbly looking for some financial help to make things even better.
So please, visit our Patreon and become a sustaining member of the UNA-MN Model UN team. We would really appreciate it, and I can guarantee the thousands of children you'll be helping will appreciate it too. You can join in for just a dollar a month, so help me make some lives a whole lot better through Model UN.