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American Giving Awards Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Bob Costas

This is an interview with Bob Costas and Kim Davis on December 7, 2011 about the show American Giving Awards.

Question:
Could you tell me a little bit about what we can expect from the show?

Kim Davis:
The American Giving Awards Presented by Chase will be the first ever televised celebrity tribute to community heroes. A total of $2 million will be granted by Chase to five charities that will be participating in the show. The program was inspired by our Chase Community Giving Program, which began in the fall of 2009, which is a crowd source philanthropic initiative on Facebook, where we have, over the period of time since the fall of 2009, engaged over 3.3 million fans who have helped us decide which local non-profits will receive grants from our firm.

Performing at the American Giving Awards will be such celebrities as Taio Cruz, Miley Cyrus will be there, and Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and the current Dancing With the Stars champion, JR Martinez will also present at the awards ceremony. So we are very excited to be showcasing these organizations that are doing amazing work in five important categories.

Question:
Did you teach your two kids all about giving back to the community when they were growing up?

Bob Costas:
I think that's always been part of what we try to do. I think celebrity is pretty much an empty concept and it's an overindulged concept in our culture to the point of absurdity. But what you can do, if you have some recognition, is you can turn that recognition into some good things. And I think a lot of people, especially that I have been associated with through the years in sports and in broadcasting, have tried to do that.

And my kids growing up in St. Louis, that was always part of what I tried to do with my time there was to do as many charity events as I could to work with causes in St. Louis and nationally. It's a privilege that comes with recognition. And if you can turn that recognition into something worthwhile, then it's a good thing to do and I would hope that both of kids kind of observed that as they grew up.

Question:
This American Giving Award sounds like what the holidays should all be about. Do you agree with that?

Bob Costas:
It's part of it. Sure. It fits perfectly in the spirit of the holidays. And I think it has an aspect to it beyond charity to sort of a competition in a sense. The winning charity will receive the $1 million grant. So it has a little bit of suspense attached to it beyond just the good works.

Kim Davis:
That's right.

Question:
Do you feel an awards show like this seems more important in the economic times that we're in than before?

Bob Costas:
I think quite possibly. Quite possibly it does. It's difficult for people sometimes to dig deeper when their own economic circumstances may be less favorable than they used to be. But everybody can, to the extent that they're able. It may not be as much for some people as in other years or as they hope it'll be in subsequent years, but all of us, to the extent that we're able, can help out.

Kim Davis:
I think it's important to, through a show like this, to help give voice and to celebrate the incredible efforts and sacrifices that ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things and communities are making every day. So I think this show helps to do that.

Question:
Can you give some examples of what these ordinary people have accomplished?

Kim Davis:
One of the organizations called Let's Get Ready, which is out of New York City, and what they do is help low income, at-risk high school students go to college through SAT preparation and counseling. And we know what the cost of college is today. And so it's giving these kids a leg up in communities to help them active in college.

Another organization that is doing incredible work is Move for Hunger, which is out of Neptune, New Jersey. And they are a moving company that, as they are helping to move people across America, they pick up the unopened and non-perishable food items from people during the moving process and they deliver those food items to local food banks across the country. An incredible sacrifice and accomplishment that they've made. And they've moved tons of food across the country. So those are two great examples of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Question:
Bob, the past month must have been professionally amazing for you. Where does the past month place on a scale of professional accomplishment?

Bob Costas:
The Penn State situation is a significant and ongoing story, as there are new developments even today as we speak. It's an ongoing story that transcends sports. It gets into the area of news. And I was in the right place at the right time to contribute something to moving that story forward.

Question:
I know there's five categories for the five non-profits that are being honored. How did you determine these, Kim?

Kim Davis:
We've been engaged in this crowd sourcing work since the fall of 2009. And as we've looked at the categories that have been very important, not only to our 3.3 million fan base, but also as we look at the work that we're doing across the globe, these five categories really bubbled up as the ones that are having great impact in communities and are of great need in communities.

So education and mentors is one. Youth developers is the second. Community builder's the third. Champions of health and wellness is the fourth, and then heroes and leaders. And we think they represent a very significant cross section of activities that are happening in communities around the country.

Question:
What was most important to you when putting together the awards? Because televising it is a big deal, a big move for Chase. So when you were thinking about the whole concept, what stuck out most to you?

Kim Davis:
For me it was really the opportunity to showcase these organizations that, one, our fan-base has identified as doing amazing work in communities. But also, as I mentioned earlier, to help give voice to their work in a way that otherwise they would not be able to be showcased.

And I think it's a small example of the incredible work that's going on in communities across the country. Many times we think about all the negative things that are happening in our country and in our society, and yet there are these amazing activities and feats of sacrifice that are happening. And if we can play a small part in helping to elevate that, then I think we are making a contribution.

Question:
When it came to the celebrities that you reached out to, there's a big range from Miley to JR to Terrence Howard. So what made you guys what to reach out to these folks, as opposed to maybe others?

Kim Davis:
I think the common thread is that these celebrities have a passion for work going on in community. And many of them have specific passions for the organizations that are actually being showcased. And they were ready to lend their voice and their support to the efforts. And that was important to us.

Question:
Why did you sign on to host? How did you become part of this?

Bob Costas:
The people at NBC and Comcast, now having taken over NBC, they expressed to me that this was especially important to them. The first time that this has been televised. Steve Burke of Comcast and NBC Universal has told me how important this show is to him. And so with that in mind, even though it comes in a very busy stretch, or in the middle of football, I'll have to jet into LA. And as soon as the program is over, literally as soon as the program is over, I'm going to go to the airport and fly to Dallas to do the Cowboys and the Giants over the weekend. But it's, A, it's a very worthy cause, or series of causes. B, it should be a fun night, no question about that. And, C, it was important to NBC. And I work for NBC. So you put those three things together and there you go.

Kim Davis:
And thank you, Bob, for your sacrifice.

Question:
Can you give a little more detail about the award for Colin Farrell and why he was chosen to be honored in this inaugural event?

Kim Davis:
Colin is very passionate about one of the organizations that we are showcasing and highlighting. And he wanted to lend his voice to that organization. And we are happy to have him be part of this, as we are with all the other celebrities that are participating.

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