The Courageous Persuaders competition encourages high school students to create 30-second television commercials on the importance of safe driving. The program consists of three main categories: impaired driving, distracted driving, and safe driving. Middle school classrooms review and judge the videos to determine the scholarship winners. High school students learn how to create their own video, are honored at an awards celebration, and most importantly, are making a difference in raising awareness and changing attitudes towards these dangerous issues facing young adults. While middle school students learn safe driving habits before getting behind the wheel.

In 2007, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) and its Executive Director, Rod Alberts, officially adopted Courageous Persuaders and expanded it to a nationwide program.  A special thanks to the late Judge Jim Martone and John Barcyk for starting the program and proposing the opportunity to DADA to further develop.

In 2008, Michigan’s Secretary of State (SOS) officially announced the SOS’s partnership with Courageous Persuaders.  For over 10 years, top entries in the innovative Courageous Persuaders campaign have won airtime in SOS offices across Michigan.

At the 2019 Courageous Persuaders Ceremony on May 2nd at Emagine Theatre in Royal Oak, MI, 16 awards were presented along with over $20,000 in scholarships.  The overall grand prize-winning commercial aired on Ch. 2 in Detroit as a public service announcement.

In 2020, the DADA received 659 video submissions from 264 participating high schools representing 1,328 high school students from 41 different states, including British Columbia. There were 20 middle schools that had students participate by reviewing these videos for winners. There were 29,312 YouTube views of these videos from April 1 – April 28. The five top geographic locations viewing were the United States, India, Canada, Germany and United Kingdom.

Since its inception we have received over 10,000 video entries submitted from nearly 14,000 high school students from 3,500 high schools in almost all 50 states. The Courageous Persuaders YouTube Channel has almost a million views from 16 different countries. You will see there is no other program in the country like Courageous Persuaders and, we are proud to say, it is making a difference.

View past submissions here

The primary objective is to raise awareness and change attitudes about dangerous driving habits in young adults. A secondary objective is to expose middle school students to safe driving habits − high school students taking a stand on this deadly issue.

High school students learn about the topic while participating in a fun activity with their peers, and middle school students get introduced to new positive role models. Both demographics learn how to be safe drivers and knowledgeable passengers to protect themselves and those around them.

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) was founded in 1907 by 17 local dealers, and has grown to more than 250 member dealers who donate their time and resources to a host of community activities. Currently, the DADA members collectively employ more than 16,500 people.

Many members participate in the NAIAS, LLC which is responsible for the production of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The most significant charitable venture of the DADA is the annual NAIAS Charity Preview, which has raised more than $100 million for children’s charities in southeastern Michigan over the past 25 years alone.

Courageous Persuaders is administrated by the DADA Educational Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and relies on the generous support of corporate and foundation contributors to continue this important and influential program. If you would like to contribute or make a donation and help us to lead the fight against drinking and driving and distracted driving, you can contact Sophia Lorenzetti at 248-283-5129 or

Courageous Persuaders® has been recognized by several major professional organizations, garnering a Gold Medal and a Silver Medal at the AME (Advertising Marketing Effectiveness) Awards in New York, and two Outstanding Creativity Awards at the Mobius competition in Los Angeles.

The Wall Street Journal has recognized the outstanding advisors supporting the students behind the camera with the Courageous Leader Award.

Recently, both National Road Safety Foundation and Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety have partnered with Courageous Persuaders to help spread the impact.

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