The Cirque du Soleil is known for its dazzling and innovative circus spectacles, which have entertained nearly 33 million people in 130 cities worldwide. Less well known, but no less innovative, is the Cirque’s social action program, which includes a global network of circus workshops for marginalized and disenfranchised youth.

The Montreal-based company, which earns nearly $700 million annually, devotes 1 percent of ticket sale revenue – or about $6.2 million – to outreach programs for...

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