How Faith In Kids Fueled Big Thought’s Gigantic Super Bowl Success

I happened to have a chat yesterday with Big Thought CEO Gigi Antoni, and she explained one of the basic principles behind the arts and creative learning organization’s SLANT 45 project: stay out of the way as much as possible and let the kids determine the direction and scope of the project.

That was, as it turned out, the secret ingredient to what has become one of the largest service initiatives ever. SLANT 45 is “education-through-public-service,” as this piece in the Dallas Morning News explains. Launched in conjunction with the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee, SLANT 45 organized more than 44,000 children who have logged more than 446,000 hours of community service.

In the DMN piece, Super Bowl host committee president and CEO Bill Lively calls SLANT 45, “The most important legacy of the Super Bowl.”

So what exactly is SLANT 45?

The name is an acronym for Service Learning Adventures North Texas. In short, Big Thought enlisted the support of schools, neighborhood associations, church groups, clubs, PTAs, Scouting troops, sports teams and more to challenge kids to choose and plan service projects of any size. The key was allowing kids to take ownership of their own projects as a way of inspiring initiative and creativity. The children responded:

SLANT 45 projects were entirely planned by children. A sampling: a Girl Scout troop’s renovation of a library, a pet fair put on by Fort Worth homeless children, a luggage drive for foster children in Arlington and a Plano elementary school’s nutrition and food drive to combat hunger. SLANT 45 stands for Service Learning Adventures in North Texas and is named after a successful 1990s Dallas Cowboys play.

The project, launched in the context of the Super Bowl, is like a giant coming out project for Big Thought. The organization has been active in area schools for nearly a quarter of a century, but while its innovative, behind-the-scenes, and out-of-the-spotlight approach has garnered the organization success, results, and praise among peers and education professionals, it is not as well known in the community at large, the Morning News story explains. Expect that to change.

To find out more about SLANT 45, Big Thought will be holding public screenings of SLANT 45: The Movie, a documentary about the project, beginning on January 30. You can find out more about those screenings here.

Also, almost 19,000 people are expected to fill American Airlines Center tonight to celebrate the project. The event will feature appearances by former Dallas Cowboys Daryl Johnston and Roger Staubach, and it will feature performances by Mitchel Musso and Jordin Sparks. For more on that event, click here.

Finally, here’s a trailer for Slant 45: The Movie: