EIF's Think It Up to Get Star-Studded Telecast on Major Networks

Jeremy Renner Scarlett Johansson - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Jeremy Renner Scarlett Johansson - H 2015

The special event — to be held at Santa Monica's Barker Hangar — will be televised on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.

The Entertainment Industry Foundation isn’t wasting any time in introducing Think It Up to the widest audience possible. EIF’s new national education initiative — the industry nonprofit’s first major initiative since creating Stand Up to Cancer in 2008 — will be featured on a Sept. 11 telecast on all four major broadcast networks and supported by a roster of celebrities and influencers.

The one-hour broadcast will air live on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC from the Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport and will feature Kristen Bell, Stephen Colbert, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Ryan Seacrest, Jessica Williams, and other notable names from film, TV, music, sports and digital in front of a crowd of students and teachers. Live musical performances and comedy sketches will be part of the night’s entertainment.

“It will hopefully inspire a new and awakened energy throughout American culture about education and the power of learning,” EIF president and chief executive officer Lisa Paulsen tells THR.

Paulsen says the Think It Up telecast is scheduled for 2015 and will continue every other year with the Stand Up to Cancer telecast continuing on opposite years. In launching the program, Paulsen credited CAA’s Richard Lovett, Seacrest, Sherry Lansing, Nick Jonas and “every leader in town,” all of whom have “touched this in some way shape or form” including heads of programming and specials at the networks. Lansing serves as the chair of EIF's board of directors.

Think It Up, which was first announced on July 9 but has been in the works for several years at the org, is described by EIF as “a first-of-its-kind platform to fund student-powered, teacher-led learning projects” in partnership with DonorsChoose.org, the teacher crowd funding charity. As of this fall, public middle and high school students can work with teachers to develop projects that draw on their passions in the pursuit of educational goals, which the public can then crowd fund through Thinkitup.org.

“We want to see fewer disengaged students, more students prepared for college and careers post graduation and hopefully we will ignite a movement and a culture of excitement for students by having our entire industry behind this,” Paulsen notes. “We want to create a place to replicate and celebrate successes. We believe what we are doing will be a mechanism for funding and help shift the national dialogue and improve education outcomes across the country … by giving students the tools they need where they live.”

When EIF announced the new initiative — a multi-platform program that will rely on celebs and other industry names to promote learning, as well as social and digital media strategies —the rollout came with news that Staples was on board as a founding corporate partner. Red-hot Jonas also came along for the ride as the program’s first announced celebrity ambassador.

With the telecast ramping up, EIF has also revealed additional partners on the projects, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a founding contributor providing expertise and guidance on classroom practices driving impact on student learning; ExxonMobil as lead corporate sponsor; Ashoka, via its Start Empathy Initiative as a lead contributor focused on prioritizing empathy and related changemaking skills in school curricula and culture. 

The Sept. 11 telecast will be executive produced by Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager for Den of Thieves, working alongside EIF 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 EIF.