Photo of CEO Wendy DuBoe with Students participating in the Character Playbook


At a kick-off event today in Bronzeville, the National Football League (NFL) and United Way Worldwide launched Character Playbook, a national education initiative to promote youth character development and healthy relationships.

Starting immediately, the interactive digital program will be implemented in schools in 14 NFL team markets, including Chicago. Over the next three years, it’ll expand to all 32 cities and their surrounding communities.

Alongside more than 600 students, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell teamed up with United Way President and CEO Brian Gallagher to announce its launch, the 

newest initiative in the 42-year partnership. Other guests at the kick-off event included Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; United Way of Metro Chicago President Wendy DuBoe; Chicago Bears Chairman George McCaskey; Chicago Bears alumni and NFL draft prospects.

Students learn to create positive relationships

Locally, we will partner with the Chicago Bears and 20 schools to bring the program to classrooms across the city and suburbs. Using evidence-based strategies, Character Playbook will 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 related to positive character development, social-emotional learning, and building healthy relationships.

Designed for learners in seventh through ninth grades, the digital experience enables students to engage with true-to-life scenarios, including bystander intervention strategies and positive relationship examples.

Stay tuned!

On Friday, the initiative will also be highlighted during the second night of the NFL Draft, when students from the Barton Academy in Auburn Gresham will appear on stage. They will be joined by Israel Idonije, a 2010 finalist of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which  recognizes NFL players for their excellence on and off the field.

Learn more about the Character Playbook program and the impact it’s having on young people across our region.