The National Football League (NFL) and United Way are kicking off their 46th year in partnership by making Character PlaybookTM, a digital resource educating students about healthy relationships, available to all U.S. schools free of charge.
Designed for students in grades seven through nine, Character Playbook, developed and administered by digital education leader EVERFI, reports that over the past three years, nearly 500,000 middle school students have accessed the curriculum for personal development. The course has also raised students' expectations about healthy relationship dynamics. Upon completion of the course, the majority of students say they feel prepared to play a positive role in their communities whether by stepping in to help someone who is being treated with disrespect or by taking an active role in conflict resolution. Additionally, schools that teach character education report higher academic performance, improved attendance, reduced violence, have fewer disciplinary issues, a reduction in substance abuse and less vandalism.
"Today's headlines and usage of social media are making it more difficult to show, by example, how to live with empathy and compassion," said SUZANNE MCCORMICK, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide. "That's all the more reason we should be deliberate about providing our kids the tools they need to build healthy relationships and make good decisions during their critical and formative middle school years."
The NFL and United Way have consistently risen to meet the increasing demand for character education. In addition to making Character Playbook available to any school in the U.S., free of charge, they are also incorporating digital mental health education into the program for five schools in each of the NFL's 32 markets. EVERFI's Mental Wellness Basics builds on the teachings of Character Playbook to equip students to become powerful advocates for the mental wellness of themselves and their peers.
"We're excited to see the constant growth of the Character Playbook program and now be able to offer it free of charge to any school who wants it," said ALEXIA GALLAGHER, Vice President of Philanthropy and Executive Director of NFL Foundation, NFL. "Volunteerism is also an important aspect of character building and we're thrilled that Character Playbook's Character Challenge will encourage students to donate 100 minutes of their time – part of the Huddle for 100 to honor the League's 100th season."
The 2018-19 Character Playbook National Impact Report confirms students' ability to succeed academically and intellectually depends, in part, on their ability to develop strong, sustaining relationships and feel safe in the community. Beyond teaching youth how to manage their own relationships and emotions, this tool is teaching students how to play a positive role in their school communities. After taking Character Playbook, percentage of students who agree:
During the 2018-19 school year, Character Playbook was used in 1,500 school districts nationwide. Seventy districts, including 11 of the 30 largest school districts in the United States, have written the resource into their curriculum. This aligns with the trend that states are requiring or encouraging schools to integrate social emotional learning or character education. According to the National Association of State Boards of Education, 15 states require districts to integrate social-emotional learning or character education into the school curriculum and another 16 states encourage it.
"The research around student mental health is startling and shows that one in six U.S. youth experience a mental health disorder each year and 50 percent of lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14," said McCormick. "United Way believes that all children deserve a strong start in life. We make that possible by empowering parents to support their kids, improving the quality of learning environments, and offering solutions, such as Character Playbook, to challenges outside the classroom. United Way is doing all we can to help raise the next generation to be healthy, caring and kind."
In honor of the NFL's 100th season, the NFL and United Way are also challenging Character Playbook schools to give 100 minutes of volunteer service to their campus and community in support of the NFL's Huddle for 100 initiative, the NFL's campaign to get 1 million people to donate 100 minutes of their time. This annual Character Challenge kicked off September 17 and runs through Super Bowl LIV. To learn more about Character Playbook and how to bring it to any U.S. school for free, visit characterplaybook.com.
About United Way
United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.9 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide and $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world's largest privately-funded nonprofit. We're engaged in 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith-based organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited.
About the NFL Foundation
The National Football League Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by the game of football – from players at all levels to communities across the country. The NFL Foundation represents the 32 NFL clubs and supports the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football and the communities that support our game. For more information on the NFL Foundation, visit: NFLFoundation.org.
About EVERFI, Inc.
EVERFI is a technology company driving social change through education that addresses the biggest issues affecting society ranging from financial wellness to prescription drug safety to workplace conduct. Founded in 2008, EVERFI is fueled by its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform and has reached more than 30 million learners across the U.S. and Canada. EVERFI's Networks bring together financial institutions, colleges and universities, and some of the largest corporations to leverage insights and connections to drive impact. Some of America's leading CEOs and venture capital firms are EVERFI investors including Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Twitter founder Evan Williams, Advance Publications, Rethink Education and Rethink Impact. To learn more about EVERFI visit everfi.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter @EVERFI.