News and Features

Super Bowl a God-send for Non-Profits

The Super Bowl could bring an economic windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars to North Texas. But not just for area businesses. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports local non-profits and charities have found they can benefit from being tied to the game:

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Angie Bulaich is a matchmaker of sorts. As a member of the North Texas Super Bowl host committee, she’s been connecting local non-profits with business interested in doing some good around the game.

BULAICH: “I had people starting two years ago calling me saying I’m a domestic abuse shelter in Tarrant county and I have no idea how the Super Bowl can benefit me, but please let me know if there is … And then a few months ago I get a call from a major NFL sponsor saying we really want to benefit a domestic abuse effort in your area, do you have anyone in mind? … They’re great phone calls to make.”

More than 20 programs tied to the Super Bowl will focus on everything from the environment, to childhood obesity to homelessness. And those are just the events sanctioned by the NFL. Groups have planned dozens more to take advantage of the platform the game provides.

Gigi Antoni is the President and CEO of Big Thought. Her organization offers creative learning opportunities to more than 300,000 kids annually. For the last two years, Big Thought has worked with the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee on Slant 45 – a service learning project for close to 45,000 North kids. Big Thought also produced a documentary called Slant 45, about the project.

ANTONI: “Particularly with the Super Bowl, it is one of the most media-centric events ever. And so the whole world is taking a look at it. It’s a media platform in a way to be able to raise a cause and to bring awareness.”

Many of the events use celebrity star power to attract even more attention. Gene Simmons will host a concert for wounded veterans back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Willie Nelson will play a benefit for the SPCA.

Kenny Goss is hosting what may be the most talked about event – a concert the Friday before the game featuring Prince and Dallas native Erykah Badu. Proceeds will help the Goss-Michael Foundation provide arts education to local students.

Tickets for the performance cost $1,500 a piece, with only 2,000 of them for sale. Goss says regardless of how much money it raises, the event has already raised awareness of the Goss-Michael Foundation.

GOSS: There are people who didn’t know that we existed who actually walked in the door. Last Saturday, we had like 45 people here, and normally we don’t have 45 people on a Saturday. I’m sure that relates to a lot of the publicity that people had heard through this event.”

But some organizations had to shuffle their schedules to get out of the Super Bowl’s way. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is skipping its usual Sunday matinee on Super Bowl Sunday. Evita won’t play that night at Casa Manana in Fort Worth, even though the musical’s opening Super Bowl weekend.

Still, some groups chose not to alter their schedules. The Dallas Center for Architecture will go forward with a planned architectural tour of downtown Dallas on the Saturday before the game. Greg Brown is the center’s Program Director.

BROWN: “I don’t think any of us locally know what this is going to be like. We can talk about the Super Bowl for days, but until we’re in the middle of traffic or dealing with limos and motorcades and spotlights searching through the air for parties, I think it’s going to be a new experience for all of us.”

Still, some lessons have already been learned. Big Thought’s Gigi Antoni says the new levels of cooperation reached among area non-profits will be one of the game’s legacies in North Texas.

ANTONI: “We had meetings where for the first time people in Dallas were meeting their counterparts in Fort Worth. So linking the community and helping us think about ourselves as a region of providers for children was pretty revolutionary and I think something that will last. I think those relationships and connections will last long after the game is gone.”