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Habitat for Humanity marks 20 years of sending youth to build houses during spring break

MIAMI (March 17, 2009) – Two hundred students on spring break will gather in Miami this week to celebrate 20 years of Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge. Habitat for Humanity annually sends more than 12,000 students to volunteer in more than 200 locations through its alternative break program for 16 to 25 year olds.

“Students who use their school breaks to build with Habitat for Humanity are making a powerful statement about the need for affordable housing and the ability of young people to create positive change. They are also making a real difference for families all over the United States, one house at a time,” said Desiree Adaway, Habitat’s senior director of Volunteer Mobilization. “We are grateful for all the work youth have done through Collegiate Challenge over the past twenty years and for State Farm’s support of this extraordinary program.”

A special ceremony celebrating Habitat’s Collegiate Challenge history of engaging youth volunteers will take place at a Habitat neighborhood in Miami-Dade County. Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer for Habitat for Humanity International; Barbara Carr, State Farm vice president of Agency; and Anne Manning, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami executive director, will join the 200 students to celebrate.

Through the Collegiate Challenge program, students from 47 states and six Canadian provinces will volunteer in more than 200 Habitat locations during their school breaks. The spring break volunteers in Miami are from high schools and colleges in Maryland, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Canada, and they will work on eight houses to help complete Habitat Miami’s 187-home community, Jordan Commons, one of the largest Habitat communities in the country.

“For the past 17 years, more than 8,000 Habitat volunteers participating in Collegiate Challenge have helped to eliminate poverty housing in Miami-Dade County,” said Manning. “We deeply value the assistance that these volunteers provide our affiliate each year. Because of their efforts, more than 175 families now live in safe, decent and affordable houses.”

Throughout the program’s 20-year history, more than 166,000 Collegiate Challenge volunteers have raised more than $15.5 million to build Habitat houses. This year, Collegiate Challenge participants will contribute $1.8 million to help build Habitat homes.

“State Farm loves the commitment and leadership being demonstrated by young adults in these alternative spring breaks,” said Mike Fernandez, vice president of Public Affairs for State Farm. “We are proud to be working with Habitat for Humanity and the next generation in helping our communities rebuild and thrive.”

State Farm is the national corporate sponsor of Habitat’s youth programs and has provided more than $100,000 to support several Habitat affiliates and youth groups for their work with the Collegiate Challenge program. State Farm is also the sponsor of Habitat’s Collegiate Challenge 20th anniversary event and has contributed more than $1.5 million to Habitat for Humanity International and Habitat affiliates each year since 2007.

This spring break season, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami will host more than 600 Collegiate Challenge participants from more than 20 U.S. and Canadian schools.

About Habitat for Humanity Greater Miami
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami is an ecumenical Christian ministry which builds homes and communities in partnership with low-income families in need of a simple, decent place to live. Habitat for Humanity makes interest-free loans available for the purchase of these homes and provides opportunities to all people of conscience to support its mission to break the cycle of poverty. In 2009, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami will celebrate its 20th anniversary, having built 700 affordable homes since its inception. For more information, please visit www.miamihabitat.org.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built more than 300,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.5 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.

About State Farm
State Farm insures more cars and homes than any other insurer in the U.S., is the leading insurer of watercraft and is also a leading insurer in Canada. State Farm’s 17,000 agents and 68,000 employees serve more than 78 million auto, fire, life and health policies in the United States and Canada and more than 1.9 million bank accounts. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 32 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit statefarm.com® or in Canada, statefarm.ca®.