When the NCAA launched its “Team Works” program at the 2014 Final Four, the community outreach team looked for an A-list performer with strong roots in community service to discuss the importance of giving back with student athletes. MARC Global Communications stepped in to find and connect the NCAA with just the right A-list celebrity partner.
NCAA Team Works represents the ongoing community outreach efforts of the NCAA national office staff, partners and local organizations. Through initiatives such as service learning projects in local schools, disaster relief efforts and volunteer opportunities, the NCAA and its partners work together to leave a lasting legacy in communities across the country.
Specific NCAA Team Works projects include youth clinics, backpack and school supply donations and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee outreach efforts with Special Olympics and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. NCAA staff also volunteer for community efforts that support a variety of causes including The United Way.
While we approached several top celebrity names to participate in the NCAA’s community efforts for the Final Four in Dallas, TX., our research brought us back to Common, aka Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., – the Grammy award-winning Hip-Hop Artist, actor and author best known for hit albums including BE and Late Registration, and TV show “Hell on Wheels” and such films as American Gangster and Just Wright. Through his Common Ground Foundation, based in his hometown of Chicago, Common’s mission is to expose youth to new opportunities, help students explore their creative talent, realize their self-worth and become resilient, thriving members of the community. The NCAA & the Common Ground Foundation’s goals seemed perfectly aligned. We brought the two together for an initial conversation and a match was made. Common addressed over 9,000 students during the 2014 Reese’s SLANT (Service Learning Adventures in North Texas) celebration honoring children in 3rd – 8th grades who completed over 100,000 service hours in community programs leading up to the Final Four. He also led the half-time festivities for two of the four tournament games. In return, the NCAA “Team Works” program extended its support to the Common Ground Foundation. Speaking of team works, we called this a winning combination.