About Character Lab

Our mission is to advance scientific insights that help kids thrive

Who We Are

Character Lab is a nonprofit organization that connects researchers with educators to create greater knowledge about the conditions that lead to social, emotional, academic, and physical well-being for young people throughout the country.

Our History

Character Lab was founded in 2013 by a scientist and two educators: Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor at the University of Pennsylvania; Dave Levin, co-founder of KIPP public charter schools; and Dominic Randolph, Head of School at Riverdale Country School. 

Dave and Dominic met Angela on a field trip. The two educators were visiting leading researchers around the world, eager to find scientific insights that might help young people lead lives that were good for others as well as themselves. These conversations revealed a problem: because research involving kids and educators was so much more time-consuming and expensive than research with adults, the pace of scientific discovery was frustratingly slow. What’s more, insights that had been uncovered by scientists remained hidden from educators and parents, buried in academic articles filled with technical jargon. 

Together, Dave, Dominic, and Angela agreed that a bridge was needed to connect educators and research scientists. That bridge is Character Lab.


What is Character?

Character refers to ways of thinking, acting, and feeling that benefit others as well as ourselves. Character is plural—encompassing strengths of heart, mind, and will. Strengths of heart (such as gratitude and kindness) enable harmonious relationships with other people. Strengths of mind (such as curiosity and creativity) enable independent thinking. Strengths of will (such as grit and self-control) enable us to achieve goals.

We use the term character where other organizations we respect and support might use terms like social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies, whole child, or life skills.

What We Do


Character Lab Research Network makes school-based research fast, frictionless, and fruitful. Students and educators in our national consortium of innovative middle and high schools work closely with leading researchers on original studies that illuminate how to help kids thrive.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a school partner, please visit schools.characterlab.org.


Character Lab bridges science and practice by making scientific evidence actionable for parents and educators. Character Lab develops strategic partnerships with media, publishers, curriculum creators, and technology providers to raise awareness about how kids thrive and create evidence-based resources.

Playbooks are research-based guides to cultivate strengths of heart, mind, and will. Each includes a curated set of resources, such as recommended curricula, videos, and books. Read more about Playbooks.

Tip of the Week is 60 seconds of actionable advice in the form of a personal letter written by leading scientists, including Angela Duckworth. Read the latest Tip of the Week.

Culture Book

Learn more about our vision, history, and values

View Our culture book