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Tackling Issues in Education with United Way and TEAM NFL

Timothy Klawitter

By Timothy Klawitter

United Way TEAM NFL Intern

United Way and the National Football League have partnered up to recruit volunteer readers, tutors and mentors to improve education and work toward a common good. Representatives from NFL teams have been chosen join the initiative to hopefully cut the high school dropout rate in half by 2018.

I’m lucky enough to be a part in this effort, and joined United Way in our nation’s-Capitol in mid June to help do my part in reaching our goal.

It truly was an eye-opening experience, and one I won’t soon forget. To be able to have the chance to see so many people from all different walks of life come together to achieve a common goal was something that was very special. Volunteers, students, NFL players and interns alike came from all different backgrounds to Washington, D.C. to share ideas and brainstorm ways we can help United Way recruit one million volunteers.

United Way held this Youth Empowerment Summit during its worldwide United Way Day of Action to launch this initiative in a big way. From the collaboration sessions at American University, to the “Big Tweet” on Capitol Hill, it truly was a remarkable few days.

As an intern representing Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green, I was there to document and promote what was being accomplished via social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. I felt like we as interns did a great job of collaborating and sharing ideas, and helping support each other’s respective teams. I was blown away by the energy throughout the entire summit, and couldn’t imagine an environment that was more conducive to achieving good than this one.

The attitude and positivity started at the top with Tracey Holmes, the United Way Worldwide NFL Partnership Director, and trickled down through the NFL players, to the volunteers and interns, and ultimately to the students. The high school students that attended were a fascinating group of kids who have achieved great things within their respective communities.

Helping represent Team Virgil was Jody Davis, a high school scholar and aspiring lyricist, who was motivated by a basketball coach to keep his grades up. Jody shared his story on campus at American University, as well as on Capitol Hill. All the respective teams got the opportunity to lobby with members of the House and Senate to fight for support in the Denver, CO area. We even got a chance to meet Representative Nancy Pelosi and talk education with her.

From the moment we met at United Way Worldwide to begin the summit, Green, along with his NFL cohorts, really set the tone by bringing enthusiasm and expressing genuineness for really wanting to be there and be a part of such an outstanding effort.

Green stood out in that he was so open to sharing his story about what he has gone through in his life. Growing up, despite his surroundings, Green always strived to achieve excellence both on and off the field, and graduated from the University of Nevada with a degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Communications. Green also expressed his interest in achieving even higher education once his time in the NFL is done, and ultimately hopes to open an exercise facility to help have an impact on not only education, but the field of health and fitness as well.

This was just one example among an entire three-day marathon of instances in which a someone stood up to make a difference in sharing their stories and ideas to make an impact.

Personally, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, hands down. To see so many people come together with one common goal was really remarkable. Every person that represented United Way brought an unbelievable energy that really kept the summit rolling for all three days. I can’t say enough how impressive the NFL players, including Green, were in truly investing their time and effort into the initiative. It really set an example and a tone that is sure to be carried on well past those few days at the summit. The summit was a huge success in kicking-off the initiative, and it’s now time for people to step up and make a difference themselves!

To do your part to make a DIFFERENCE in our FUTURE, click and pledge to join #TeamVirgil http://www.unitedway.org/virgil