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The Character Virtue Development area seeks to advance the science and practice of character, with a focus on moral, performance, civic, and intellectual virtues such as humility, gratitude, curiosity, diligence, and honesty.

A person’s character reflects the distinctive qualities that are beneficial for themselves and for others. Our character helps us form and sustain connections to our families, to our communities, and to a purpose beyond ourselves. Research suggests that character virtues are associated with a variety of positive outcomes, including mental and physical well-being, happiness, and stronger personal relationships. Yet, we still have much to learn about the nature and cultivation of character in individuals and communities around the world.

Grants in the Character Virtue Development department fall into one of two categories:

Science of Virtues

In this area, we are interested in funding interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary teams that seek to further our understanding of the nature and development of virtues. Grants in this area have explored questions like: What are the boundaries of forgiveness in early childhood? What does it mean to love one’s enemy? Do expressions of gratitude vary across cultures? Our primary goal for this area of work is to catalyze scientific discoveries that will inform our understanding of specific virtues, and that have the potential to inform programmatic work in the future.

Programs and Applied Research

We also support applied research that can inform the practice of character, as well as programs that engage directly with individuals and communities to cultivate character. Programmatic support is provided through project-based grants, typically for organizations that seek to develop, implement, enhance, scale, or evaluate research-informed character. Historically, grants in this area have focused on character development in the first two decades of life, however the Foundation is open to projects that reach audiences at any life stage.

Character Virtue Development

Featured Grants

Project Leader(s): Laurie Santos
Grantee(s): Yale University
Project Leader(s): Madiha Tahseen, Merve Balkaya-Ince
Grantee(s): Family and Youth Institute of Michigan
Project Leader(s): Duncan Pritchard, Richard Arum
Grantee(s): University of California, Irvine
Project Leader(s): Larisa Heiphetz
Grantee(s): Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York
Project Leader(s): Antoinette Delmonico, Renee Spencer
Grantee(s): YouthBuild USA Inc
Project Leader(s): Liane Young
Grantee(s): Boston College Trustees