A month after declaring a shift in its corporate giving strategy, Target Corp. this morning unveiled the first new campaign under its new focus on health and wellness.

The company is partnering with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to sell a line of wearable fitness bands geared for children. The devices, which keep track of children’s steps and movements, are aimed at encouraging young people to be active. A portion of the sale of the bands will be use to fund therapeutic food packets that will be sent to malnourished children around the world.

“We know that one in four kids in the U.S. is inactive and one in four kids globally are malnourished,” said Angie Thompson, a Target spokeswoman. “So this program helps address both of these challenges.”

Kids will be able to keep track of their number of steps, which are translated into points that unlock food packets that will be donated through a companion app in UNICEF’s Kid Power program. Children can also go on “missions” in the app through which they learn about other cultures and can earn more points for completing various activities and challenges.

Up to $10 from the sale of each device will be funneled to the food program. In addition, Target will also donate $2.5 million to the initiative, Thompson said.

Last month, Target executives announced they were changing its corporate social responsibility focus away from education. As part of the change, the company at the end of this school year will discontinue its “Take Charge of Education” program, in which holders of Target’s Redcard can designate 1 percent of their purchase total to go to a school of their choice.

Target decided instead to focus on health and wellness, which executives say is the top priority of its most-valued customers, who it identifies as young adults in urban areas.

Laysha Ward, Target’s chief corporate social responsibility officer, said the company will also try to integrate its charitable focus more directly into the products it sells on the shelves.

“The win for corporate social responsibility is that it truly can help drive societal and business impact,” she told the Star Tribune last month. “They are not mutually exclusive.”

The Kid Power fitness bands will be available for pre-order starting today exclusively on Target.com and will be available starting Nov. 29 in time for the holidays. They will be sold for $39.99 and will be available in blue and orange as well as in two special Star Wars editions. The wearable devices will also be sold in select Target stores next year.

UNICEF piloted the Kid Power program in schools in Boston, Dallas and New York City in March of this year.

With Target’s sponsorship, the Kid Power program will be expanded to more schools across the country next year with plans to reach 70,000 students. Target and other sponsors such as Disney will help foot the bill for the devices at high-needs schools and will also provide tablets and supplemental curriculum materials so teachers can incorporate the program into a lesson.

Target has been pretty keen on wearable fitness trackers. Last month, the retailer also announced that it would give Fitbits to all of its 350,000 employees to encourage them to be more active.

 

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Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113

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