During a time when America has faced one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, and with ongoing updates to many relief programs, a new national PSA campaign launched by the Ad Council and United Way Worldwide, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, encourages people to call 211 or visit 211.org , a one-stop network during moments of need. With over 200 agencies and thousands of caring local experts across all 50 states, 211 provides help in navigating support services and accessing essential benefits to help build a better life for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet.
In addition to killing more than 600,000 Americans, the pandemic threatens the health of vulnerable people devastated by the loss of jobs, homes and opportunities for the future: 11.3% of Americans today live in poverty1, 20 million adults recently have had trouble putting food on the table, and over 2.3 million women completely dropped out of the labor force2, which could leave them and their children financially disadvantaged for years. From food assistance and help paying bills to health care answers and mental health resources, 211 can guide people who are struggling but might not know where to turn. Each specialist is local to their community and is trained to help confidentially curate resources and advocate for those who need support. During 2020 alone, the 211 network made 27.8 million connections to critical services and help. This is up nearly 100% from the 14 million connections in 2019. During the height of the pandemic in North America in 2020, 211 processed a 150% increase in connections to food programs.
Creative agency Walton Isaacson developed the multi-channel campaign pro bono, which includes online video, broadcast and radio spots in both English and Spanish, illustrating 211 as the guiding light for families who are struggling financially or emotionally. The initiative also includes digital out-of-home and banners, which will be distributed nationally per the Ad Council’s donated media model.
Watch the PSA in English:
Watch the PSA in Spanish:
“Many Americans are still grappling with the financial and emotional repercussions of COVID-19,” said Ad Council President and CEO Lisa Sherman. “My hope is that this new work will be a guiding light for Americans across the country who are looking forward to a brighter future, knowing 211 will be there every step of the way to help them get there.”
“211 specialists throughout the U.S. and Canada have addressed front line needs this year, more than ever,” said Suzanne McCormick, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide. “This new partnership will help increase awareness of 211 and the array of services available through the 211 network to help those in need. As a result of this partnership, we hope that even more people will get access to resources and support and that communities continue to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“COVID-19 has cast a long shadow on the livelihoods of Americans across the country. In particular, it has exacerbated the wealth gap, disproportionately hurting Black and Latinx Americans and low-wage essential workers,” said Otis Rolley, Senior Vice President of Equity and Economic Opportunity at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Hyper-local support from within communities through 211 can make it easier for Americans to heal and rebuild from the hardship of last year.”
“Shining a light on a resource like 211 at this moment in history has meant the world to our team,” said Aaron Walton, founder and CEO of Walton Isaacson. “We wanted to raise awareness in an actionable way, making sure people knew they were not alone and that their specific needs were understood. We are proud to have collaborated with the Ad Council, United Way Worldwide, The Rockefeller Foundation and all of the partners to create work for 211 that is inclusive and inspiring.”
Major media partners, including OUTFRONT Media, Samsung Ads, SXM Media, YouTube, among others have committed to providing significant donated media space to run and amplify the PSA assets. Entrepreneur, co-owner at the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars, United Way Global Brand Ambassador, and former Team USA Gymnast Josh Dixon will also be supporting the campaign, creating custom social media content to further extend awareness of the 211 service.
To learn more about the 211 benefits program and ways it can help, visit 211.org or call 211 to speak to a specialist directly about accessing public and private benefits.