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NFL, United Way & EverFi look to grow 'Character Playbook' program

Character Playbook, a digital character education program powered by digital learning innovator EVERFI, and presented by the NFL and United Way, has helped 88,000 middle school students in nearly 30 states learn how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships in its first year.

This initiative is yet another example of the NFL Foundation working hard to support the health and wellness of young people and communities engaged in football in the U.S. 

Building off the success of last year, the program will expand to 360 more schools and introduce a new virtual classroom experience called Character Playbook LIVE. These interactive events, hosted by NFL teams and United Way beginning in Week 2 of the regular season, will engage more students in the important conversation of why character matters.

NFL players will also get involved as they host live events with their local United Way. For the second year, Verizon will sponsor an additional 220 schools in 11 select markets.

Data compiled by EVERFI during the program's first year indicates that approximately 1,300 teachers helped students complete more than 170,000 hours of learning, which led to increased understanding of key social-emotional topics — a 41 percent increase based on pre- and post-assessment scores.

By the end of the program's first year:

  • 74 percent of students were more likely to believe they deserve to be treated with respect
  • 70 percent raised their expectations about how to treat others​
  • 69 percent said the program helped them identify actions they can take to treat people with respect
  • 66 percent better defined the role they can play in resolving conflict

"We are pleased with the positive strides Character Playbook has made on students' understanding of these critical topics and look forward to expanding its impact," said NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL. "Character Playbook is a program for all students, athletes and non-athletes alike, and addresses values we prioritize as a league. EVERFI and United Way, our nonprofit partner for over 40 years, have been instrumental throughout this process and understand the importance of educating students on these issues in an accessible and interactive way."

The data around social-emotional learning indicates a growing need in classrooms. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning found that students who participated in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs saw an 11 percentile point gain in achievement in social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior and academic performance. 

Character Playbook is addressing these issues head on and supporting students in building the skills they need to be successful contributors to their communities through improved communication skills, recognizing positive and negative influences, managing their emotions, resolving conflicts and stepping up for one another.

"I was extremely fortunate because I had two parents who, from an early age, instilled in me the importance not only of education, but also strong values and high character," said Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver LARRY FITZGERALD. "The more exposure I've had to successful and high-achieving people in all walks of life, I've found that those traits are consistent among them. What makes this program so valuable is that it lays the foundation early and provides kids the skills and understanding to develop these qualities that not only benefit them individually, but also the communities they live in. "

"Good character is a critical building block of strong individuals and strong communities," said President and CEO of United Way Worldwide BRIAN GALLAGHER. "By helping young people develop and recognize healthy relationships, Character Playbook is providing our next generation with the tools to succeed. It's another great example of how the NFL and United Way are combining the love of team with a deep commitment to community to make a difference."

Find out more here -


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