Tampa, FL (March 29,2018) – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and United Way Suncoast today held a celebration of the first year of Character PlaybookTM, a new education initiative focused on youth character development and building healthy relationships. This year, 16 local schools and more than 100,000 students nationwide participated in the interactive digital program that will continue to be implemented throughout the Tampa Bay area.

“We are so excited to partner with the United Way on this venture, as it reinforces our commitment to the youth of our community,” said Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer BRIAN FORD. “The Character Playbook program is an impactful tool that inspires personal development. Connecting students through thoughtful conversation and incorporating lessons from the football field into everyday life helps students challenge not only themselves, but each other. These are learning opportunities that will help grow our community’s kids into our future leaders.”

Character Playbook is the latest innovation in the more than 40-year partnership between the NFL and United Way. Character Playbook modules are designed to help students develop healthy relationships and social emotional skills. The program will be evaluated by measuring student knowledge gains as well as attitude and behavioral change and is being applied in all 32 NFL markets, courtesy of the United Way Worldwide and the NFL Foundation.

Thursday’s celebration event at One Buccaneer Place took 80 local students through the Character Playbook Experience. The morning was kicked off with a panel discussion in the team’s auditorium led by Buccaneers Team Insider Casey Phillips, tight end Alan Cross, cheerleader Julia, Director of Community Relations Meredith Scerba and United Way Suncoast Tampa Bay Area President Emery Ivery. Joining the conversation were students from Franklin Middle School and Walker Middle School in Hillsborough County to discuss character development and decision-making. Following the dialogue, the group moved to the team’s indoor practice facility to take part in seven different activity stations focused on learning about one’s character through football.

Character Playbook uses evidence-based strategies to educate students on how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships during their critical middle school years. The course is comprised of six interactive, digital modules that cover key concepts around positive character development, social-emotional learning, and building healthy relationships. Designed for students in grades seven, eight and nine, the digital learning experience enables students to engage with true-to-life scenarios that include bystander intervention strategies and positive relationship examples.

“Bullying, cyberbullying and teen dating violence continue to be pervasive issues that put immense pressure on communities across the United States,” said United Way Worldwide president and CEO, BRIAN GALLAGHER. “Couple that with escalating violence, strife and lack of trust and opportunities in communities and it underscores the real need for programs that help kids understand how best to manage emotions, resolve conflicts and communicate effectively.”

The Character Playbook initiative was launched nationally during the 2016 NFL Draft and is powered by education technology leader EverFi, which works with more than 20,000 K-12 schools.

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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: www.NFLFoundation.org.

About United Way Suncoast
United Way Suncoast serves the people of DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties by operating and funding support services and initiatives to help create a stronger, more vibrant community. United Way Suncoast fights for the education and financial stability of every person in the community through educational programs that give children the skills to succeed and help adults achieve long-term financial stability. United Way Suncoast creates lasting community change by mobilizing the caring people of the communities it serves to give, advocate and volunteer. To find Suncoast-area volunteer opportunities, visit www.volunteersuncoast.org. For more information visit www.unitedwaysuncoast.org.

About the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers players, coaches, cheerleaders, legends, and staff play an active role in community improvement through a variety of youth health and education initiatives, family outreach, and military support. Innovative partnerships with local nonprofit organizations provide assistance to thousands of Central Florida residents each year. Glazer Family Foundation initiatives including the Glazer Family Foundation Vision Mobile and the Glazer Children’s Museum continue to enhance learning opportunities for Bay Area youths. To learn more about the organization’s commitment to making Tampa Bay better today and for generations to come, visit www.buccaneers.com/community.

About United Way Worldwide
United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.8 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide, and more than $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. We’re engaged in nearly 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 EverFi, Inc.
EverFi, Inc. is the education technology innovator that empowers K-12, higher education, and adult learners with the skills needed to be successful in life. Its comprehensive critical skills platform is focused on Financial Education, Digital Citizenship, STEM Career Readiness, Diversity and Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Character Education, and Health and Wellness. The EverFi Education Network is powered by more than 3,300 partner organizations across all 50 states and Canada and annually reaches 6 million learners. Learn more at everfi.com

Media Contacts:

Rob Roberts
Senior Marketing Manager

Allen Barrett
Communications Manager
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
813.870.2700 x2561