Since its launch in 2016, Character PlaybookTM – a digital education resource powered by EVERFI, Inc. and presented by the National Football League (NFL) and United Way Worldwide – has reached over 1,000,000 students.
Designed for students in grades six through twelve, Character Playbook is composed of two module-based experiential learning courses: Healthy Relationships and Mental Wellness Basics. Together, these virtual learning experiences equip students with tools to help address their interpersonal relationships and mental wellbeing on a foundational level. The program is available to U.S. schools at no cost and has been implemented in over 12,000 schools nationwide.
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“Working with EVERFI and United Way to build the Character Playbook program over the past five years has been an incredible experience,” said ALEXIA GALLAGHER, Vice President of Philanthropy and Executive Director of NFL Foundation. “Whether they’re at school or at home, students are constantly cultivating and maintaining relationships. By equipping our kids with the skills to manage their own emotions and communicate effectively, Character Playbook is helping students across the country build positive connections with themselves and others.”
These courses are meant to be taken sequentially, starting with Healthy Relationships available to students in middle schools nationwide. By raising student expectations for relationships and teaching them how to treat others with kindness, Healthy Relationships increases the likelihood that students will stand up for their peers and play a positive role in their school communities through conflict resolution. Intended for a high school audience and currently reaching 160 high schools across the country, Mental Wellness Basics explores healthy coping skills and increases students’ confidence in their ability to find help and to help others in need.
“When we’re talking about middle school kids, this is when they’re trying to learn their identity, they’re trying to figure out who they are, trying to see the jocks from the nerds, from the geeks and from other stuff,” said Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver TYLER LOCKETT. “If we can remove all these labels and teach people how to love people and how to be there for one another, we can really have a better society.”
The NFL and United Way have consistently risen to meet the increasing demand for character education, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. During the 2020-2021 school year, a sizeable portion of both students and teachers reported being more concerned about students’ mental well-being than they were before the coronavirus pandemic.
Since widespread school closures began in mid-March 2020, students and schools have continued to access and benefit from Character Playbook‘s free educational resources. Nearly 260,000 students completed over 460,000 hours of learning during the 2020-2021 academic year, with almost 1,500 more schools leveraging the program.
Hosting virtual events was a central part of the Character Playbook program’s success during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing students to interact with NFL players, coaches and local United Way staff and executives to showcase their learnings. In 2020, 10,128 students attended 35 Healthy Relationships events, ranging from in-person Character Playbook Live events before COVID-19, to a Huddle for 100 Super Bowl event in Miami, to a series of virtual-only events from March through June.
“Prioritizing student mental health is more important now than ever,” said Chief Experience Officer of United Way Worldwide STAN LITTLE. “Despite the challenges that the past year has presented, Character Playbook has been a critical tool to help empower young people to advocate for their mental well-being, while strengthening networks of support in the communities that access the course.”
“Social-emotional learning is a critical missing learning layer in our education system, and it’s exhilarating to see five years of focused effort in this area has led to this type of impact,” said JON CHAPMAN, President and Co-founder, EVERFI. “We are excited to keep working towards the next million students through evolving our content to better incorporate the voices of the students engaging with the courses and explore the cross-section of cultural literacy and social-emotional learning through our continued strategic partnership with the NFL and United Way Worldwide.”
To learn more about Character Playbook and how to bring it to any U.S. school for free, visit characterplaybook.com.