- 06/23/2014 by Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff (Yahoo! Shine)

In the three months since the heartwrenching kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls by terrorist organization Boko Haram, people around the world have struggled with how to respond. The United Nations placed sanctions on the al-Qaeda-tied group, and the United States sent intelligence-gathering drones to Nigeria. The global Bring Back Our Girls campaign, meanwhile, has been a way for people to get involved by helping to raise awareness through social media. Now, in an attempt to keep that consciousness raised, comes Let Girls Learn, a moving celebrity effort that’s focused on the not-so-coincidental detail of where the girls were headed when they were snatched: to school.

“If somebody told me that going to school could cost me my life, I don’t know if I could go,” says actress Julie Bowen in Yahoo-exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the video message released on Friday. (See the full video below.) “But to the girls who are willing to get up every morning and face the possibility of threats and possibly death just to learn: Thank you. And they’re doing it not just for themselves, but for the girls that come after.”

The Let Girls Learn PSA is a collaboration between nonprofit agencies, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and nearly 30 celebrities, including Bowen, Jennifer Garner, Alicia Keys, Tyler Perry, Anne Hathaway, Josh Duhamel, Nick Cannon, Soledad O’Brien, Susan Sarandon, and Kelly Osbourne. As part of the effort, which encourages people to get involved with the fight for girls to go to school, USAID is also announcing $241 million in new education programs in Nigeria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Guatemala.

“All girls should have the freedom to learn. It’s time to unlock their potential. It’s time to let them learn,” celebs stress in the video. “Children born to educated mothers are twice as likely to survive past the age of 5. One more year of education increases a woman’s income by up to 25 percent. A girl who has a basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV. And yet, around the world, there are 62 million girls who are not in school. There are millions more fighting to stay there. You can make a difference.”

To get started, visit the Let Girls Learn website. But first, settle in for the two-minute video. Just be sure to have some tissues on hand. 

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