Play It Smart

8:41 AM Posted by Lori Calabrese

For more than sixty years, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, Inc., (NFF) has worked to fulfill its mission: "to promote the power of amateur football in developing the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, competitive zeal and the drive for academic excellence in America’s young people."

In 1998, The NFF created Play It Smart, an educational program targeted at high school football players from economically disadvantaged environments where family and community support are often lacking.

The key to the program is a trained academic coach who works throughout the academic year with student-athletes, coaches, school personnel, parents, and community leaders in more than 128 undeserved high schools nationwide. By strengthening a student’s academic and life skills as well as his physical abilities, the program has helped significantly raise participants’ grade point averages, school attendance records, and community service involvement. Additionally, football programs that had been on the decline have experienced growing participation, improved records, and increased fan attendance. Most importantly, Play It Smart participants have graduated high school at a rate of 97 percent, with 81 percent going on to college (compared to the national average of just 57 percent).

The program started in four schools in 1998, and with significant financial support from the NFL and the NFL Players Association, has expanded to 160 high schools in 78 cities and 33 states with more than 10,000 student-athletes participating.

There is a long waiting list of schools that would like to become Play It Smart schools. The only thing keeping them from helping their deserving student-athletes is the lack of necessary funding. You can make Play It Smart available to more schools and more youngsters by making a tax-deductible gift to the National Football Foundation for Play It Smart. To become a Friends of Play It Smart, please follow the link and make a gift.

To find out more about Play It Smart, log on to
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