Recent News

December 16, 2016

United Way, Cincinnati Bengals Team Up to Launch Character Education Initiative

Education is critically important for kids to learn the basics such as spelling, math and geography. Equally important is character education -- learning morals, values and how to develop healthy behaviors and relationships. That’s why United Way and the Cincinnati Bengals have partnered to launch Character Playbook.

Character Playbook is a digital learning initiative focused on teaching students how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships during their critical middle school years. The initiative was launched nationally by United Way Worldwide and the National Football League during the 2016 NFL Draft and is powered by education leader EverFi.

Character Playbook was launched locally at Riverview East Academy on November 29 by representatives from United Way, EverFi, and Bengals rookie players Tyler Boyd, Cody Core, Alex Erickson, William Jackson III,Christian Westerman.


“It’s what you do when no one is watching that defines you as a person,” Erickson told an assembly of approximately 200 students. “Surround yourself with positive people and people you can trust. It’ll only benefit you and help you achieve your goals.”

Character Playbook uses evidence-based strategies to educate students on how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships. The digital course is comprised of six interactive modules covering key concepts around positive character development, social-emotional learning and building healthy relationships, including true-to-life examples of bystander intervention strategies and positive relationships.

The players joined  approximately 20 students in going through the course, sharing advice and a few laughs.


“Always listen to your coaches and your teachers. Respect your neighbor, outwork everybody and show them you’re the best,” counseled Westerman.

During the assembly portion, emceed by WLWT sports reporter Elise Jesse, students had the opportunity to ask the players questions such as:

  • How important is it to be a good listener as a professional football player?
  • How does communicating effectively relate to life on and off the field?
  • How do you manage your emotions effectively amongst teammates, coaches and your opponents?
  • What is one character lesson you learned when you were our age?


Tyler Boyd shared an inspiring message for the Riverview East football players in attendance.

“It’s all about being humble and being that person you were before you put that jersey on. Don’t ever make yourself above anybody else.”

 United Way, the Bengals and EverFi plan to implement Character Playbook in approximately 20 local schools.