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 K-12th grade students are available for broad dissemination today.
In an effort to move what we believe to be a promising field forward, Character Lab will award a total of up to $1.2 million in grants to support the execution of two-year, school-based research projects focused on character development interventions during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. Each proposal may request up to $300,000.
Proposals must focus on advancing one (or more) of the following character strengths and skills: Curiosity, Gratitude, Grit, Optimism, Purpose, Self Control, Social/Emotional Intelligence, and/or Zest. Special attention will be paid to proposals focusing on interventions for kindergarten to fourth-grade (K-4) classrooms and the following subset of our target skills and strengths:
Curiosity - the disposition to recognize and actively search for new knowledge and experience.
Social/Emotional Intelligence - the ability to understand and label your own and other’s feeling and emotions, and to use this understanding to inform decisions and actions.
Optimism - the disposition to be hopeful about future outcomes, coupled with the belief that future outcomes are connected to hard work.
Zest - also referred to as vitality — an approach to life filled with excitement and energy.
July 1 - September 1, 2015 - Letters of intent are due.
October 5, 2015 - Applicants notified of invitation to submit full proposal.
November 20, 2015 - Full proposals are due.
December 21, 2015 - Up to 10 full proposal applicants invited for interview. Others notified that they will not be moving forward.
January 25, 2016 - Interviewed applicants notified of any requests for revision.
February 15, 2016 - All revisions and responses are due.
March 7, 2016 - Interviewed applicants notified of award decision.
Yes, though we are looking for interventions that have a clear, focused theory of change and will make efficient use of school time, rather than interventions that list many strengths as potential targets with a blurrier argument for how each will grow.
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.
Yes, this RFP is open to researchers of all levels of experience with school-based research.
No, but we will view those that do favorably.
Yes. This RFP is intended to fund the evaluation of specific interventions to grow character strengths in K-12th grade settings.
We are looking for school-based interventions that have not yet been rigorously tested in K-12th grade school settings.
No. We are looking to fund new ideas and interventions, and are not able to support evaluation of existing programs.
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.