New York Times: United Way TEAM NFL Tackles Dropout Rate
Take a look at this article by Jane L. Levere of the New York Times. Levere brings light to one of the most effective partnerships driving change in our community today, United Way and the N.F.L.
N.F.L. Players Seek to Cut Number of Dropouts
By Jane L. Levere, New York Times
United Way has created a group of college-educated National Football League players, featured in a new public service advertising campaign, to help it recruit volunteer readers, tutors and mentors.
Nnamdi Asomugha of the Philadelphia Eagles is one of the players in the United Way campaign.
The latest collaboration between United Way and the N.F.L. — which have worked together since 1973 — is meant to help United Way meet its goal of cutting the number of high school dropouts in the United States in half by 2018. To that end, United Way is trying to recruit one million volunteer readers, tutors and mentors by 2014.
Although the United States had the world’s highest rate of high school and college graduation in 1970, today, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, it is No. 21 in completion of high school and No. 15 in college completion. Part of the United Way’s volunteer recruitment effort is the creation of “Team N.F.L.,” made up of one player representative from each of the 32 N.F.L. teams; each is college-educated, civic-minded and an actively involved United Way volunteer. Each player has pledged to personally recruit at least 3,000 volunteers by 2014; their efforts are being tracked online. Leading “Team N.F.L.” is Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles, who has actively volunteered with United Way since 2009.
Five “Team N.F.L,” players — Mr. Asomugha; Brandon Carr, cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys; Josh Cribbs, wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns; Chris Canty, defensive tackle for the New York Giants; and Cam Newton, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers — are featured in the new campaign’s TV spot. The spot was created by the New York office of McCann Erickson, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, and is being distributed by the Advertising Council. United Way, the N.F.L., the Ad Council and McCann also worked together on a previous campaign introduced in 2009.
The new TV spot — available in 30- and 60-second versions — is the first one created by McCann for United Way to feature multiple N.F.L. players.
The voice-over on the spot, by Mr. Asomugha, says, “N.F.C., A.F.C., offensive linemen, defensive tackles, quarterbacks and cornerbacks are all working with United Way. For a million little reasons. The kids of our communities. To ensure their academic success, all the way to graduation day. It takes about 12 years to create a graduate. It takes the same time to create a dropout. And the difference could be you. So become a United Way volunteer reader, tutor or mentor. Make a difference in the life of a child.”
A 60-second radio spot, also featuring Mr. Asomugha, offers a similar message. There is also outdoor advertising customized to each N.F.L. market, featuring the player representative from the local team. For example, one ad features D’Brickashaw Ferguson, an offensive tackle for the New York Jets, who wears a white T-shirt that says, “Live United.” Copy here reads, “Join Team D’Brickashaw. You could be part of a team that keeps a kid in school, alongside some of your favorite N.F.L. players. Become a volunteer reader, tutor or mentor in your community. Suit up and take the pledge today atUnitedway.org/TeamDBrickashaw.”
Gib Marquardt, a group creative director of McCann Erickson New York, called the T-shirt “the centerpiece of the launch advertising, and it becomes a perfect bit of equity as we tell the N.F.L. story.”
Although N.F.L. players are often rivals on the field, playing “on different teams, in different conferences and possessing different areas of expertise, they and the N.F.L. are united to help kids of our communities become graduates,” he added.
Tracey Holmes, N.F.L. partnership director for the United Way, said, “There are 182 million N.F.L. fans. We believe many of those fans care as much about the community and the success of our kids as they do about their teams.” Anna Isaacson, director of community relations for the N.F.L., said the league was participating in the newest United Way effort because it had “taken a stand to give back to communities. We also know we provide a huge platform that can make a difference.”
The Ad Council will distribute the new advertising in time for the start of the 2012 football season on Sept. 5; the TV advertising also will run on the N.F.L. Network.
Mr. Canty, who was born in the Bronx and works with United Way programs for boys and girls ages 8 through 16 throughout New York City, said, “The platform of football allows me to reach kids and drive home the message about the importance of education, that without it they limit their opportunities.”
“It’s one thing to hear it from your parents, it’s another to hear it from an N.F.L. player you see on TV,” he said.
The Advertising Council, which has worked with United Way on various public service campaigns since 2004 — not all involving the N.F.L. — said total donated media for all United Way-related campaigns was worth close to $400 million through the first quarter of 2012.
New York Times Article: