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Entertainment Industry Foundation, Mayors From All Over the U.S. Kick Off Two Major Initiatives Encouraging Volunteerism

UNPRECEDENTED BLOCK OF TV PROGRAMMING IS FIRST WAVE OF MULTI-YEAR "I PARTICIPATE" CAMPAIGN

NEW YORK, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Today in the heart of Times Square, actors and executives representing the Entertainment Industry Foundation (or EIF, the entertainment community's collective charitable organization) joined New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 15 mayors from around the country, numerous celebrities, and key service groups to launch two new initiatives aimed at fostering a new era of volunteerism: EIF's I PARTICIPATE and the mayors' Cities of Service coalition.

EIF is mobilizing the entire entertainment community around the ground-breaking, multi-year

I PARTICIPATE, which will promote a new way of thinking about service and seek to persuade millions more Americans to volunteer regularly. To jumpstart the campaign, Entertainment Industry President and CEO Lisa Paulsen, Tyler Perry and Ashton Kutcher announced its 2009 centerpiece: a week-long television event running from October 19th to the 25th, when America's most-loved TV shows on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC and other broadcast networks will spotlight service through scripted programming, segments and PSAs with inspirational messages and storylines about volunteerism. Randy Jackson (FOX), Christine Baranski (CBS), Tim Daly (ABC) and Michelle Trachtenberg (NBC) also participated in the announcement.

"Most people know that volunteering can have an enormous, positive impact on their communities, but they often don't realize how much volunteering benefits the person who does it," said Lisa Paulsen, president and CEO of EIF. "We're trying to broaden the collective national conversation about service; volunteering is rewarding, but it's also energizing and fun. It can even be a great way to meet people."

"We think hearing that from the cast members and characters on shows like Mercy, American Idol, Private Practice, Ugly Betty and The Good Wife will help millions of viewers consider volunteerism," said Tony Award Winner Bernadette Peters. "I think it's important to help people and causes that need our help. The I PARTICIPATE campaign will ultimately involve all segments of the entertainment community including film studios, the recording industry, Broadway and others."

Emceeing the event in Times Square was New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who earlier in the day convened a meeting of his counterparts from around the country, including Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Dublin, OH Mayor Marilee Chinnici-Zuercher, Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Providence Mayor David Cicilline, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer, Vicksburg, MS Mayor Paul Winfield, Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, and West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, to launch a volunteerism initiative called "Cities of Service."

"Today is an exciting day for service in America," said Mayor Bloomberg. "These two distinct initiatives - bound by their common commitment to increase community service and volunteerism in America - represent a significant step in realizing the goals of the bipartisan Edward M Kennedy Serve America Act. The Entertainment Industry Foundation's I Participate Campaign will animate the public to find more ways to give back. And the Cities of Service coalition will harness that newfound energy and put it to good use."

"These two efforts complement each other superbly," said Paulsen. "Through I PARTICIPATE, the entertainment community will generate new enthusiasm about volunteering, and when people look for ways to do that in their own communities, the Cities of Service coalition will provide them."

Demonstrating the power of social media activism, Ashton Kutcher joined Mayor Bloomberg and those gathered at Times Square, sending a message to his 3.5 million Twitter followers, urging them to volunteer on September 11th as a way to honor the memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks. A giant screen in the Square projected Kutcher's request, "2Day, I activate my citizenship by participating. I PARTICIPATE! Do u? www.iparticipate.org," and some of the instantaneous replies to it as they began to pour in.

Other elements of the EIF I PARTICIPATE initiative include:

  • a dedicated website IParticipate.org, designed to make it easier than ever before for millions of Americans to find volunteer opportunities in their local communities across five key areas of service: Children and Education, Community Health and Wellness, Financial Security, Environmental Conservation, and Support for Veterans and Military Families. The website features calendars of events, maps, digital tool kits and uses the power of social networking vehicles like Facebook, making it simple for individuals not only to volunteer, but to recruit friends to join them;
  • a series of celebrity-driven public service announcements that will reinforce the importance of volunteerism and supporting causes like Welcome Back Veterans. Blythe Danner, Gwyneth Paltrow and Matthew McConaughey are among the performers featured in the PSAs, which filmmaker Jesse Dylan, with his agency FreeForm, is directing and producing. Dylan works with Bono's "Red" and "One" campaigns and also directed will.i.am's iconic "Yes, We Can" video; and,
  • grants from the Entertainment Industry Foundation to key volunteer organizations to help build capacity to accept, train and deploy volunteers.

"The ability to both entertain and inform is one of the hallmarks of a broadcast network," says Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment. "Integrating messages of volunteerism and service into America's favorite television shows can have a powerful and lasting impact that benefits both the audience and the country at large." NBC president Angela Bromstad agrees. "The week of volunteer-themed programming in October provides an opportunity for the networks to tap the power of television," she says. "The ultimate goal," says Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment is "to get people thinking about what they can do in terms of volunteering, and then to act on that." "The most satisfying result for us is when our programs entertain viewers as well as inform them--and maybe even call them to action," FOX Entertainment president Kevin Reilly points out. "And that's what we're looking to do by supporting EIF's initiative. We are calling on our talent pool--in front and behind the camera--to get involved." The day began with ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC morning shows all broadcasting interviews from Gracie Mansion during the Cities of Service Summit.

Leading companies and organizations that have joined EIF in supporting I PARTICIPATE include AARP's Create The Good volunteer network (www.CreateTheGood.org), Medco Health Solutions and its "Give Health a Hand" program (www.GiveHealthAHand.org), Major League Baseball and its "Welcome Back Veterans" initiative (www.WelcomeBackVeterans.org), and UnitedHealthcare (www.unitedhealthgroup.com/main/SocialResponsibility.aspx). These organizations will engage their employees all over the country in grassroots service efforts.

The rate at which Americans volunteer regularly has not increased in 40 years and has generally remained around 26%, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly half of all people who currently volunteer started because they were asked by someone they know.

Celebrities who participated in the Times Square event include: Ashton Kutcher, Tyler Perry, Randy Jackson, Christine Baranski, Fran Drescher, Sway Calloway, Kenneth Cole, Rocco DiSpirito, Kelley Menighan Hensley, Bernadette Peters, Cameron Mathison, Tim Daly, Lee Ann Womack, Constantine Maroulis, Jeff Francoeur and Al Leiter.

Service organizations who participated in the Times Square event include: HandsOn Network, NYC Civic Corps, and Service Nation.

Network shows that will feature volunteerism in some way during the week of Oct 19th include:

ABC

All My Children, America's Funniest Home Videos, Brothers and Sisters, Castle, Cougar Town, Dancing With The Stars, Desperate Housewives, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Flash Forward, General Hospital, Good Morning America, Grey's Anatomy, Hank, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Modern Family, One Life To Live, Private Practice, The Forgotten, The Middle, The View, Ugly Betty

CBS

Cold Case, Criminal Minds, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Gary Unmarried, Ghost Whisperer, Numb3rs

FOX

America's Most Wanted, Bones, Brothers, COPS, So You Think You Can Dance, 'Til Death

NBC

30 Rock, Access Hollywood, Community, Days of Our Lives, Heroes, Parks and Recreation, The Biggest Loser, The Office, Today Show

About Entertainment Industry Foundation

The Entertainment Industry Foundation is the leading charitable organization of entertainment industry, and has distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to support programs addressing critical health, education and social issues. For more information, please visit www.EIFoundation.org.

About Cities of Service

Cities of Service is a bi-partisan coalition of large and small city mayors from across the country who will work to engage millions more Americans in a new era of service. Founded in New York City on September 10, the coalition and its member cities will respond to the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act's historic call to action by finding new and innovative ways to harness the power of volunteers to help solve pressing local challenges. Additional information about the coalition can be found at www.citiesofservice.org

SOURCE Entertainment Industry Foundation

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