The 2023 Federated Challenge raised a record-breaking $4,012,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters, during its 19th annual gala on Sunday, July 23. This year and the highest yet, 86 incredible businesses (17 were new this year to the Federated Challenge) and more than 650 generous people attended the gala to support youth mentoring in Minnesota and throughout America.
“You are part of something big,” said Federated Insurance® Chairman and Host Jeff Fetters. “You are igniting potential. You are investing in the most precious resource we have: our youth and our future.”
Federated Insurance covers 100 percent of all Federated Challenge expenses, so every dollar raised will be donated to Minnesota’s three Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America®. These organizations are creating powerful one-to-one mentoring relationships between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”). A portion of the donations are set aside for the Federated Challenge Scholarship Program which provides up to $5,000 per year to qualified Littles or high school Bigs enrolled in a non-four-year program focusing on apprenticeship, certificate, trade school, technical, or community college. Hundreds of students have benefited from this fund and are earning job-ready training degrees with little to no debt.
Last year, Federated Insurance donated $550,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota. From that donation, $50,000 went to scholarships, and 12 current or former Littles and High School Bigs received funds to help pay for their education at a non-four-year institution or apprenticeship. A handful of Central Minnesota’s 2023 Federated Scholars were able to attend the gala and golf event to see the work that goes into making their scholarships possible.
“We’re proud to share since 2014, nearly 250 former Littles have received scholarships,” said Fetters. “This includes 23 new scholars in 2023. Looking at their faces, there’s no doubt that you are part of something transformational and meaningful. And tonight – record-breaking.”
Big Possibilities. Big Futures: This was the theme for this year’s Federated Challenge, and it reverberated through across every inch of this year’s event. Master of Ceremonies Julie Rethemeier opened the evening by reminding everyone in attendance when you place a BIG in the life of a Little, opportunities are endless, hope rises, and brilliant futures become reality. “Every person here tonight believes youth mentoring makes a difference; wants to drive change for the next generation; and wants to create big possibilities and bright futures. Every person here tonight has accepted the Federated Challenge,” said Rethemeier, vice president – director of Public Affairs and Advertising at Federated Insurance.
Fetters challenged each person to dig deep and give generously to enhance the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies and help kids unlock their full potential and build bright futures. “No matter what, we will all leave here tonight having raised more than $52 million for Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2005,” said Fetters. “That is simply astonishing.”
Joining Fetters as hosts were two Littles in the program, Delaney and Isaiah. The event also featured legendary WCCO radio personality, Dave Lee, and the incomparable master auctioneer, Glen Fladeboe. Guests enjoyed a beautiful evening at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, while listening to music by local artists Ashley Dubose and Tim Sigler.
The gala’s program also featured motivational and meaningful messages from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America President and CEO Artis Stevens; Shari Ballard, CEO for the Minnesota United FC; and paid tribute to Federated’s former chairman and the creator of the Federated Challenge, the late Al Annexstad and his wife, Cathy. Also recognized during the event this year was Greg Jones with Harford Steam Boiler, as this year’s Federated Challenge Honoree.
On Monday, July 24, Federated Challenge attendees teed off at the world-renowned Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota — future site of the 2024 U.S. Amateur Championship and the 2029 Ryder Cup.
“We have made possibilities bigger and futures brighter tonight,” said Fetters at the Gala. “You all continue to amaze me with your open hearts and generosity. Together, we have undoubtedly created something special — positive mentor relationships, thriving communities, and a future for our next generation.”
The Federated Challenge was founded in 2005 as a two-day fund-raising event hosted by Federated Insurance, a commercial insurance company headquartered in Owatonna, Minnesota. Now in its nineteenth year, this event has raised more than $52 million for youth mentoring programs.
About Federated Challenge
The Federated Challenge® two-day gala and golf event is hosted by Jeff Fetters, Chairman of Federated Insurance. Jeff is a past member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America® Board of Directors. Federated Insurance offsets expenses so 100 percent of the money raised through the Federated Challenge goes directly to Big Brothers Big Sisters. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Federated Challenge Scholarship Program.