United Way of Essex and West Hudson, the Jets & Verizon Launch Character Education Initiative

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The New York Jets, United Way of Essex and West Hudson and Verizon have teamed together to launch Character PlaybookTM, a digital learning initiative focused on youth character development and building healthy relationships. It will be implemented directly in schools throughout northern New Jersey. This initiative was previously launched nationally during the 2016 NFL Draft. Character Playbook is powered by education technology leader EverFi, which works in more than 20,000 K-12 schools.

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 through nine, the digital learning experience enables students to engage in true-to-life scenarios that include bystander intervention strategies and positive relationship examples.

"The New York Jets are excited to help launch this program to help students engage in positive relationships," said Jesse Linder, New York Jets Director of Community Relations. "We have developed a strong anti-bullying program over the last year and the Character Playbook perfectly complements the type of outreach we are looking to make."

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"We are very excited about our partnership with the NFL and the New York Jets that will bring this learning program to schools," said Catherine Wilson, President and CEO of United Way of Essex and West Hudson County. "We believe that this innovative curriculum will deliver the type of character education our students need in the 21st century."

"As a leader in the community, Verizon believes that we must use our resources and expertise to create innovative solutions that help the vulnerable in our society," said Kevin Zavaglia, Verizon Market President-Northeast. "Our support of Character Playbook in northern New Jersey is in line with our mission to make an impact and address topics that are critical to middle school students' success across the region."

"We often assume young people will simply find their way to positive character and healthy relationships, but it is a skill that can be taught and nurtured," said EverFi Chief Operating Officer Tammy Wincup. "The NFL and United Way are committed to helping lift up communities and they are thrilled to bring Character Playbook to students across northern New Jersey."

The launch event took place at East Orange STEM Academy on Tuesday, October 4, and included New York Jets linebacker Darron Lee and Jets alumnus and 2010 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award Winner Tony Richardson. More than 500 students, district officials and city officials attended the event.

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