Courageous Persuaders-- Secretary Johnson renews Department of State's support of program with Auto Dealers Association

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson on Wednesday renewed the Department of State's partnership in the Courageous Persuaders program, in which high school students create their own hard-hitting commercials to warn middle schoolers of the dangers of underage alcohol use and win scholarships.

Johnson and officials from the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) held a press conference in Detroit's Cobo Center at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Also in attendance were some of the 3,000-plus high school and college students taking part in Education Day at the Auto Show.

"As Secretary of State, I'm dedicated to doing all I can to keep people safe on our roads, and as the mom of an 11-year-old, I'm devoted to protecting her and all our children from the dangers young people can face," Johnson said. "That makes me a big fan of Courageous Persuaders."

The department will continue to support the program by providing informational brochures to the public and broadcasting winning commercials on the digital TV network offered in more than 100 branch offices statewide, Johnson said.

Courageous Persuaders will award more than $17,000 in scholarships to winners this year. The entry deadline is Thursday, Feb. 10. The program was founded in 2000 by advertising executive John Barczyk and then Oakland County District Court Judge Michael Martone and has grown to involve 1,196 students from 383 schools in 45 states as of last year. The DADA became primary sponsor and administrator in 2007 and the Department of State became a partner in 2008.

For more information, visit the department Web site at or the program Web site at

Published: Fri, Jan 21, 2011