Entertainment Industry Foundation Announces “Roadblock” Telecast For National Think It Up Education Initiative
Think It Up seeks to inaugurate a new movement in support of the nation’s students, teachers and schools, helping generate excitement about learning everywhere in America and building a sense of optimism about the changes underway in classrooms across the country. Because education is the cornerstone of our democracy and economy, Think It Up aims to renew a sense of promise for all of America’s public school students. With new technologies, ingenuity and higher expectations, we are living today in the most dynamic era in learning and education since free public schools were established in the US 150 years ago.
ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC will simultaneously broadcast the live Think It Up one-hour special from the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, home to some of the most exciting charity events and concerts in Los Angeles.
Kristen Bell, Stephen Colbert, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Ryan Seacrest, Jessica Williams and other stars from film, television, sports, music, and digital media will take part in the telecast, with live musical performances from world-class artists, comedic sketches and more.
The telecast will spotlight powerful stories of teachers and students working together on the types of projects to be supported through the initiative. “Our hope is that by creating opportunities to unlock their passions, talents, and strengths, Think It Up will help students, working together with their teachers, to forge lasting connections between their learning experiences now and the futures they shape for themselves,” said Sherry Lansing, founder of the Sherry Lansing Foundation and chair of EIF’s Board of Directors.
EIF is engaging visionaries and innovators in education, entertainment industry executives, and leaders in media, technology and other businesses to roll out Think It Up. In addition to aggregating funds from citizen donors, thinkitup.org will make it possible for major donors, such as corporations, philanthropists and foundations, to match some public contributions. Staples was previously announced as Think It Up’s lead corporate donor.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (www.gatesfoundation.org) is a founding contributor providing expertise and guidance on the classroom practices driving impact on student learning—specifically, innovative teaching and deep, conceptual learning driven by student passions and interests.
“I am delighted to be in on the ground floor of Think It Up. EIF has had a remarkable track record with Stand Up to Cancer, having shined a spotlight and rallied Americans around an important challenge that affects us all,” said Vicki Phillips, leader of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s K-12 education program and member of the Think It Up Advisory Committee. Phillips continued by stating that, “At this critical moment in public education, EIF is answering the call once again. Think It Up is an unprecedented effort to build a national movement to support the powerful bond between students and teachers in the important work of learning. Only EIF can harness the power and influence of Hollywood to create a culture of optimism and excitement around what is possible in our nation’s schools.”
As a lead corporate supporter, ExxonMobil (www.exxonmobil.com) will further expand its support of high quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for our nation’s schools. Working with Think It Up, ExxonMobil will provide exclusive support to schools and classrooms engaged in innovative STEM learning, with an emphasis on initiatives that better prepare young women and traditionally under-represented minority students to pursue STEM careers.
“ExxonMobil has a long history of supporting education and inspiring our next generation of innovators to take on some of the world’s toughest challenges,” said Ken Cohen, vice president of Public and Government Affairs at ExxonMobil. “Our decades of support for STEM education includes our commitment to the National Math and Science Initiative, which brings scalable, high-quality education to young people, and our ‘Be An Engineer’ initiative, which inspires and informs students and parents about the opportunities in the engineering professions. ExxonMobil is pleased to be part of this effort to support teachers and students and their interest in STEM.”
Ashoka, via its Start Empathy Initiative (www.startempathy.org), is a lead contributor focused on prioritizing empathy and related changemaking skills in our school curricula and culture.
“Reading and math alone are no longer enough for the world we live in – a world of constant change, of unprecedented connectivity and complexity,” said Konstanze Frischen, Ashoka’s North America Leader. “We need a generation of young people who grow up practicing empathy and working in teams to solve real-world problems – who have the sense of purpose and courage to improve the society they live in. Think It Up is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get the message out that empathy works: it is the foundation our students need to succeed as changemakers."
During the telecast, EIF will launch and accept donations via thinkitup.org, a first-of-its-kind platform to fund student-powered, teacher-led learning projects in partnership with DonorsChoose.org, the popular teacher crowdfunding charity. These projects will facilitate meaningful learning for the students involved, and will help students connect learning to their futures.
Since 2000, DonorsChoose.org has been an invaluable tool for individuals to contribute toward the purchase of materials needed for classroom projects that teachers have requested. Through this collaboration, public middle and high school students can work with their teachers to develop projects that draw on their passions and prepare them for success (through college, technical training or work experience), which the public can crowdfund via thinkitup.org later this fall.
Creative Artists Agency President Richard Lovett, chair of the entertainment industry’s leadership committee for EIF’s Think It Up national education initiative and a member of the DonorsChoose.org Board of Directors, described the new movement this way: “Think It Up is an initiative that unites individuals, organizations, companies and brands in support of our great students, teachers, and principals, to help give them an edge in the classroom and ultimately in life.”
Students, teachers and citizens across the U.S. can tune in to the televised special to learn about the initiative, how student-teacher teams can submit project ideas and request funding, and how the public can fund learning experiences through direct donations at thinkitup.org. Launching with the telecast, this multi-platform initiative will continue to engage students by targeting them where they “live” – through a robust social and digital media strategy.
In addition to the roadblock telecast, Think It Up will engage celebrities and education/community influencers to help keep a steady drumbeat of excitement about learning and encourage ongoing support for students and teachers. National public awareness campaigns featuring celebrity ambassadors will run across all media platforms, including print, broadcast, digital, out-of-home (e.g., billboards) and radio. Lead corporate donor Staples, for example, has teamed up with the multi-talented recording artist, actor and Think It Up Ambassador Nick Jonas for a public service campaign encouraging students to collaborate with their teachers on projects that will help innovate their classroom experiences.
“Now more than ever, we need to support our students and teachers to spark great learning. Through the new Think It Up initiative, we’re raising awareness and encouraging people to recognize the importance of education and to support success in the classroom,” said Alison Corcoran, senior vice president, North American Stores and Online, Staples.
Local events with students and teachers will be held in communities across the country, highlighting inspiring
stories of successful teacher-student collaborations.
For Think It Up, the Entertainment Industry Foundation is forming an Education Advisory Committee, comprising experts, leaders and advocates with impeccable credentials from diverse areas of the education field. Current members of the Committee have created criteria for the student-powered, teacher-led projects that are designed to ensure that those receiving funding facilitate meaningful learning for the students involved. The Committee will work with EIF’s Board of Directors to advise on and help oversee the Think It Up grants program. Additional support will be provided by an Honorary National Advisory Council with two segments, one including leaders from entertainment and media, and the other, the education, non-profit and philanthropy worlds.
“The Think It Up campaign will shine a national spotlight on the needs of students and teachers in classrooms across America,” said Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org. “After serving as a teacher resource for 15 years, we’re excited that DonorsChoose.org will now be a place where the public can support project ideas straight from the imaginations of students.”
“Our future depends on today’s young people, so every citizen has a stake in making more high-quality, meaningful learning experiences available to teachers and their students,” said Lisa Paulsen, president and chief executive officer of EIF. “We truly believe that Think It Up can make a difference in the lives of students, and we hope that this telecast will help spark a movement that lasts for years to come. We’re extremely grateful for all the support for this initiative, from the major contributors who have provided deep, substantive expertise in addition to generous financial commitments, to individuals who will contribute whatever they can and the celebrity ambassadors who will participate in the event.”
The September 11 Think It Up telecast will be Executive Produced by Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager for Den of Thieves, working with Entertainment Industry Foundation producers.
Stuart Ruderfer, CEO of Civic Entertainment Group, a Seacrest Global Group Company, serves as an Executive Producer of the Think It Up initiative with the Entertainment Industry Foundation. The agency and its leadership are working with EIF to shape the overall Think It Up program to inaugurate the new movement and build optimism for education in America.
“We love to work on powerful programs that make a meaningful difference,” said Ruderfer. “Think It Up is a bold collaborative effort that will support innovative work in our schools and help teachers and students succeed.”
About the Entertainment Industry Foundation
The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), established in 1942, harnesses the collective power of the entire industry to generate awareness and funds for critical health, educational and social issues. Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), EIF’s largest initiative, was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry’s resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, and to increase awareness about cancer prevention as well as progress being made in the fight against the disease. SU2C accelerates research to get new therapies to patients quickly. Since its founding seven years ago, SU2C has launched 16 collaborative “Dream Teams” comprising over 940 scientists from 123 leading institutions around the world. That research, including 151 planned, initiated or completed clinical trials, has led to Food and Drug Administration approval of two new treatments. In just 15 months, Hunger Is, EIF’s collaboration with The Safeway Foundation, has significantly raised awareness of childhood hunger in the United States and over $10 Million to support breakfast, afterschool and out-of-school meal programs.
About Think It Up
Think It Up is an initiative of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, created to bring broad cultural attention to the urgency of improving the learning experience in America. The national education initiative will seek to reframe the public discussion about education, create a culture of excitement about learning everywhere in America and build a sense of optimism about the potential of education in classrooms across the country.
Think It Up will invite public middle and high school students to work with their teachers to develop projects that draw on their passions and help pursue their educational goals. Posted on thinkitup.org, in collaboration with DonorsChoose.org, the student-powered, teacher-led projects will be crowdfunded by citizen donors beginning September 2015. The projects will entail rigorous skill development that prepares American youth for post-high school life, helping pave the way for career success, regardless of the path.
Founded in 2000, DonorsChoose.org makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Teachers at over 60 percent of all the public schools in America have created project requests, and more than a million people have donated $330 million to projects that inspire them. Over 14 million students — most from low-income communities and many in disaster-stricken areas — have received books, art supplies, field trips, technology, and other resources that they need to learn.
About Den of Thieves
Launched in 2007 by Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager, Den of Thieves has emerged as a force for ambitious music-driven event shows and unique non-scripted television series. In the live event show space, Den of Thieves has Executive Produced the MTV Video Music Awards, American Idol on FOX, Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution on FOX, the MTV Movie Awards, Key & Peele’s Super Bowl Special on Comedy Central, the Peabody Awards on Pivot, the CMT Awards, and The Radio Disney Music Awards – among many others.
About Civic Entertainment Group
Founded in 1999, Civic Entertainment Group (Civic) is one of the nation’s most award winning marketing services companies working with blue-chip brands including HBO, Verizon, A+E Networks, Airbnb, NBC, Farmers Insurance, CNN, NFL and Fox, among many others. The agency creates big, brand-defining platforms that inspire the imaginations of audiences and the media, influence culture and engage customers, employees and partners. In 2012, Seacrest Global Group acquired a majority stake in Civic and in 2014, Civic further expanded its capabilities with the acquisition of Culture Shop, a preeminent strategic marketing agency specializing in entertainment marketing, public relations and social/mobile marketing.