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United Way TEAM NFL

Team NFL

NFL players from around the League are winning where it matters most — in the classroom. Their goal is to recruit 99,000 volunteer readers, tutors and mentors. Their game plan is YOU. Help them pull off the ultimate play. Enter the draft today.

American Promise & United Way


In 1999, filmmakers Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster turned cameras on two families—including their own—as they grappled with the ups and downs of preparing their sons for academic success. At the time, they weren't quite sure where the project would take them. But as they navigated the education system and wrestled with the same questions most new parents face, they knew they had a story to tell.

They also knew that, as black boys, their sons' futures were riddled with extra hurdles: they would be twice as likely as their white counterparts to be held back in school, three times as likely to be suspended and half as likely to graduate college. And both sets of parents were fiercely committed to doing everything in their power to defy those odds.

United Way has teamed up with the makers of the film, American Promise, to mobilize families, educators and young people to take part in conversations and take action around how we can better serve our black boys with the goal of ensuring that all young people are equipped with the same opportunities for excellence.

Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. Today, fewer Americans are likely to earn a diploma than their parents, a distinction not shared by any other industrialized country. About one quarter of all U.S. students—one million young people a year, 3,000 a day—fail to graduate on time. When student drop out of school, communities suffer.

We can't focus on high school alone. Students who drop out are years in the making. While schools play an important role, communities and individuals have to step forward too. By focusing on building kids' academic skills in the early years, volunteer readers, tutors and mentors can set young students on the path to graduation and a better life. That's why United Way is recruiting people with the passion, expertise and resources to make a difference.

Learn more about the film 13 years in the making, and how you can start a Promise Club to help more kids stay on track to graduate high school.

Start a Promise Club