Bridging Research and Practice

Transforming 5th to 12th Grade Education Through Evidence-Based Approaches To Character Development


Under a variety of designations (virtues, life skills, soft skills,

social and emotional skills, learning mindsets, developmental assets, non-cognitive factors), character strengths and skills in young people have long been considered essential for social, personal, and vocational success. Yet despite the promise of character, very few evidence-based approaches to cultivating character in 5th-12th grade students are available for broad dissemination today.

Request for Proposals

In an effort to move what we believe to be a promising field

forward, Character Lab will award a total of $1.2 million in grants to support the execution of two-year, school-based research projects focused on character development interventions during the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years. Each proposal may request up to $300,000.

Strengths We're Focusing On

  • Gratitude

    The disposition toward recognizing positive aspects of our lives, feeling appreciation for the benefits we receive and a sense of good will toward the source of those benefits, as well as a desire to act positively that flows from this appreciation and good will

  • Grit

    Perseverance and passion for very long-term goals; the stamina to sustain effort and interest over months and years

  • Open-Mindedness

    The disposition to actively search for questions and answers and to evaluate information in a manner that resists the limits of one's own biases

  • Pro-social Purpose

    A stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at once meaningful to the self and of consequence to the world beyond the self

  • Self-control

    Regulating attention, emotion, and behavior in the face of momentary temptation and distraction

Key Dates

  • September 1st

    Letters of intent due

  • October 7th

    Invitations for full proposals sent out

  • November 25th

    Requested full proposals due

  • March 20th

    Awards announced


Do Principal Investigators (PIs) have to have school-based research experience?

No, this RFP is open to researchers who have never worked in school settings before. Character Lab will help support school/research team matches through meetings and toolkits.

Can PIs who have had school-based research experience still apply?

Yes, this RFP is open to researchers of all levels of experience with school-based research.

Do proposals need to include an advanced graduate student or post doc?

No, but we will view those that do favorably.

Do proposals need to include interventions?

Yes. This RFP is intended to fund the evaluation of specific interventions to grow character strengths in 5th-12th grade settings.

Will you consider funding proposals that have been tested in schools before?

We are looking for school-based interventions that have not yet been rigorously tested in 5th-12th grade school settings.

I created a program to grow strengths in schools, but I am not an academic. Can I apply for this RFP?

Yes, we encourage applications that match program designers with academics, as long as least one PI has a Ph.D. and is affiliated with an accredited college or university in the United States.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions about the RFP?

You can email us at