Coalition, Charter team up

Published 8:40 pm Saturday, January 22, 2011

Charter Cable customers may soon be seeing some public service announcements in support of the Community Action Coalition of Suffolk.

The coalition recently teamed up with Charter to help spread its message of non-violence. The student-led Be Fight Free campaign committee will produce the content for the spots.

“This is a campaign,” said coalition facilitator Robert Stephens. “As with any campaign, you’ve got to have media telecommunications driving the message.”

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The coalition formed and started work this fall after a spate of youth-involved violence that ended with the murder of Lakeland High School student TyQuan Lewis after a party.

The Be Fight Free rallies in the city’s high schools and Turlington Woods Alternative School concluded last week. The rallies were only the beginning in a larger campaign, Stephens said.

“This campaign is going to go on as long as necessary,” he said. “It’s really going to lead into some initiatives like youth workforce development programs, economic empowerment, prevention and intervention.”

To get the message out, though, the coalition needed to partner with a company that could spread the word quickly.

“We want full market saturation,” Stephens said. “We want every household to know what Be Fight Free really means in the community. It’s like any social marketing campaign — if people hear it enough, it changes their behavior.”

Charter is excited about its new role in the campaign.

“Charter Communications is pleased to participate in this very worthwhile effort in support of our area schools,” said Tom Ross, director of operations for Charter Communications.

The coalition also is spreading the message through a Facebook page. It hopes to develop a website soon, Stephens said.

Ashley Greene with Breakthru! Consulting, which is helping with publicity for the campaign, said it was encouraging to have Charter on board.

“I think it’s kind of an awesome statement that we have some of the key participants on the bus this early in the game,” she said. “Obviously, communications will be key in this. I’m really glad that Charter has agreed to come on board.”

Stephens added the coalition will soon be approaching other corporations — particularly those with corporate social responsibility policies — to help develop the coalition’s network.

For more information about the Community Action Coalition, search “Community Action Coalition of Suffolk” on Facebook.