FRISCO, Texas – Darren Woodson credits one of his college coaches, Lovie Smith, for helping him recognize the true value of education during his standout career at Arizona State.
"It's been a fixture in my life since that day," he said.
Woodson went on to become the Cowboys' all-time leading tackler and the most recent addition to the franchise's Ring of Honor. Having come from a military background – two brothers, three uncles and his father have served in the military – Woodson is now helping military students on their educational journey.
On Veterans Day, Woodson and Teach4Service COO Keith Thode accepted a $5,000 grant from the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation to continue their work with military families stationed across the globe.
Teach4Service is a non-profit working to help equip military students with the knowledge and life skills needed to thrive. The group provides best-in-class technology and resources – individualized for each student, creating a consistent online community that understands the unique challenges and circumstances today's military families navigate.
In 2015, there were 564,000 female civilian spouses of active duty military worldwide, of which 15 percent were unemployed and roughly 40 percent are highly under-employed. Military children move seven to nine times between the 5th and 12th grades. Youth struggle with stress of having a parent in battle, inconsistency in friendships due to moving and a constant in and out of various school institutions.
To combat this problem, Teach4Service employs those military spouses to tutor both military (for free) and civilian kids (a paid service). Through this program the work moves with the families no matter where they are stationed around the world.
The Dallas Cowboys and the National Football League have a long history of honoring veterans and active duty members of the military, recognizing their sacrifice through the Salute to Service campaign each November and through various other efforts throughout the year.
Woodson, who works closely with the Teach4Service program, was recently nominated as the Dallas Cowboys' national Salute to Service honoree for his work with the program and military families.
"We want to give back," Woodson said. "We want to be that light at Teach4Service for those families."