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Jean Vanier founded L’Arche in 1964. Vanier has written and spoken extensively about L’Arche’s impact, including resulting character-virtue development. As Vanier ages, the leadership baton is now being passed from Vanier himself to L’Arche as an organization. As a next step in our organizational development, it is vital that L’Arche more fully understand its impact through evaluation and measurement. Only then can we make informed decisions to develop our organization and programs, amidst diverse and changing environments, and maximize our effectiveness in character virtue development.

The proposed project uses the methodology of participatory and empowerment evaluation: a) enabling replication of character formation evaluation in L’Arche, over time and in multiple locations, and b) firmly embedding evaluation within the organization, to inform and improve program design.

This inclusive research project will evaluate L’Arche’s impact on character development of people with intellectual disabilities as well as people without intellectual disabilities. Key studies on character development in L’Arche have focused primarily on the character development of L’Arche members without intellectual disabilities. Gaps remain for examining the character development of L’Arche community members with disabilities. Studying the impact on both groups through this project will broaden our understanding of character development in L’Arche.

The project will help us better understand the nature and development of compassionate love and humility in L’Arche. Ultimately, it will help L’Arche to maximize the development of these character virtues and share its learnings with others.