Student organization working to end poverty

A new student organization at Bemidji State University called ONE has formed to support global efforts to end poverty.

ONE is a non-partisan campaign aimed to mobilize Americans in the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease. ONE advocates for the less than 1% of the federal budget that is dedicated to foreign aid. The organization is affiliated with the ONE Campus Challenge, a group of more than 100 campuses across the country engaging in a series of challenges.

The ONE campaign started in May of 2004 as an international effort to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease in the poorest places on the planet – particularly in Africa – where the challenges are the greatest, according to co-president Rachel Munson, a junior history major from Bemidji.

“Although we focus heavily on Africa, we really do realize that poverty is a global issue – and even a local issue,” she said. “Beltrami is one of the most-impoverished counties in Minnesota, and so to address that problem, Bemidji State’s ONE chapter is planning on hosting food drives, clothing drives and other activities. We really just want to educate our peers on what is going on in the world, and to get them to understand that ignorance is not always bliss.”

The group recently completed a month-long challenge called “ONE Vote 2012” where ONE groups at campuses across the country competed to register students to vote.

“In this challenge, campuses were asked to register voters all around campus,” Munson said. “As a non-partisan organization we are not aiming voters toward any political party. Instead we are letting them know the importance of the student voice. We also appealed to the students to put pressure on both local and national candidates running in the upcoming election. We ultimately want to ensure that they know that ending poverty is on the student agenda, and that it should be on theirs as well.“

The second challenge, participation in a 28-day campaign to help end malnutrition for 15 million children and lift 50 million people out of poverty – begins Oct. 8 and runs through Nov. 2. The third challenge, “Face Off with HIV/AIDS” runs from Nov. 5-Dec. 7 and deals with preventable disease. Three more challenges will be held in the spring of 2013.

Bemidji State’s ONE organization has met with local elected officials and on-campus administration to discuss their goals, and also secured a proclamation by Bemidji State University President Richard A. Hanson to designate Bemidji State as a ONE campus.

“I recently learned the Minneapolis is a ONE city, and Governor Tim Pawlenty declared Minnesota a ONE state in 2008,” Munson said. “That is just really cool, and makes me proud to live in Minnesota.”

For more information please visit or visit Bemidji State’s ONE chapter on Facebook.

Members of Bemidji State University’s ONE chapter are listed below, by hometown

Bemidji |56601| Rachel Munson, junior, history, co-president
Bemidji |56601| Ellen Munson, senior, pre-medicine, co-president
Bemidji |56601| Kat Cronemiller, freshman, social studies education

Coon Rapids |55448| Crystal Lesmeister, senior, political science
Hutchinson |56425| Kirsten Goldstein, senior, international studies
Long Prairie |56347| Rebekah Zinter, junior, nursing
Minneapolis |55417| Dylan Rouse, freshman, undeclared
Minneapolis |55406| Tony Ball, freshman, sport management
Northome |56661| Natasha Vande Kamp, senior, biology/pre-medicine
Sauk Centre |56378| Courtney Westbrock, junior, elementary education
Zimmerman |55398| Pauli Meinecke, senior, creative and professional writing

Rutherford County |28040| Allison Wall, junior, chemistry, secretary

Colton |57018| Alicia Underwood, senior, accounting, treasurer