The NFL, Houston Texans, United Way of Greater Houston, United Way Worldwide and Verizon have announced the Houston launch of Character PlaybookTM, a new education initiative focused on youth character development and building healthy relationships. The interactive digital program will be implemented directly in schools throughout Houston.

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 norms. The program will be evaluated by measuring student knowledge gains as well as attitude and behavioral change.

“We are pleased to use Super Bowl week as a platform to launch Character Playbook and provide valuable resources to classrooms and students in Houston,” said NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility ANNA ISAACSON. “The program encourages youngsters to develop healthy relationships and stand up for others and as the leaders of tomorrow, young people benefit from being educated on these important attributes.”

The launch event at Pilgrim Academy today took students through the Character Playbook modules. Houston Texans players JEFF ALLEN (G) and KURTIS DRUMMOND (FS), and NFL Legend and Super Bowl champion DONALD DRIVER led a panel in front of more than 300 students to discuss character development and decision-making. Character Playbook will be implemented in all 32 NFL markets, courtesy of the United Way Worldwide and the NFL Foundation.

“Every day we strive to be champions for youth at the Houston Texans and we believe the Character Playbook program will educate students around Houston to better prepare them for the road ahead,” said JENNIFER DAVENPORT, vice president of marketing and community development at the Houston Texans. “We are proud to partner with the United Way and Verizon on such an important initiative.”

“Helping young people build confidence, character, communication skills, and healthy relationships are so important to students’ success both in and out of the classroom,” said ANNA M. BABIN, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Houston. “United Way of Greater Houston works to help young people build a foundation for success, and we are excited to partner with the Houston Texans and Verizon to further that work through Character Playbook.”

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 7th – 9th graders, 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.”

“At Verizon, we believe it is important to use our resources and expertise to create innovative solutions that help the underserved in our community,” said KRISTA BOURNE, Verizon Market President-South Central. “Through the Verizon Innovative Learning program, we have focused our resources on education and character development programs. By supporting Character Playbook in Houston, we can make an impact and address topics that are critical to the success of middle school students in greater Houston.”

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.