Michael J. Kerrigan

Character Resources


The following character-related organizations are excellent contributors to character building in our country. The reader may wish to visit their websites. Also, several substantive books on  developing good character in young people are listed here.




America’s Promise


America’s Promise Alliance is devoted to creating the conditions for success for all young people, including the millions currently being left behind. Their belief is that all children are capable of learning and thriving, and that every individual, institution, and sector shares the responsibility to help young people succeed. They are the nation’s largest partnership of hundreds of national nonprofits, businesses, communities, educators, and ordinary citizens who are working to make the promise of America accessible to all young people.

America’s Promise Alliance was born from The Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future held in Philadelphia in April 1997. That extraordinary event brought together thousands of leaders from across the 66 Restoring Character in America country to refocus the nation’s attention on the needs of children and youth. Attended by Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter, and Ford (with Nancy Reagan representing President Reagan), and chaired by Ret. General Colin Powell, the gathering challenged America to make children and youth a top national priority. Together, they signed a Summit Declaration that serves as the guiding force for the movement they started and for America’s Promise Alliance. In July 2001, President George W. Bush added his signature. President Barack Obama signed the declaration in September 2014.


Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development


ASCD is a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading. Comprising 115,000 members—superintendents, principals, teachers, and advocates from more than 128 countries—the ASCD community also includes fifty-one affiliate organizations. Their vision is to change the world, one child at a time. ASCD empowers teachers to help students to develop essential skills that include but extend beyond memorizing geographical locations and calculating square roots. ASCD supports the whole child by engaging students to prepare for navigating their careers, contributing to their communities, and identifying their interests. Their primary focus is on transformational leadership, global engagement, poverty and equity, redefining student success, and teaching and learning—components that holistically advance student achievement. Through professional learning opportunities, books, videos, and online courses, instructors gain insights for solving challenges, enhancing teaching skills, and building effective programs.


Boy Scouts


The Boy Scouts of America is the largest scouting organization in the United States of America and one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with more than 2.4 million youth participants and nearly one million adult volunteers. The Boy Scouts of America is one of the most prominent values-based youth Suggestions for More Information 67 development organizations, providing programs for young people that build character, train them in responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develop personal fitness. For more than one hundred years, Boy Scouts of America has helped build future leaders by combining fun with educational activities and lifelong values. Scouting embraces the great outdoors. Scouts learn how to camp and hike while taking care of the land. They study wildlife up close and learn about nature. They master plenty of skills and teach others what they have learned.


Center for Character and Citizenship


The Center for Character and Citizenship engages in research, education, and advocacy to foster the development of character, democratic citizenship, and a civil society. Funded by grants, individual donations, and through corporate and foundation support, the Center focuses on generating and disseminating both knowledge and research on how individuals develop moral and civic character. By providing scholars, educators, and social organizations with the tools they need to contribute to this development, the Center plays the role of a think tank, offering workshops, consulting, and professional development. The Center also provides resources and tool kits to assist educators, parents, and scholars in character and citizenship education. The Center’s core programs include the Leadership Academy in Character Education, Youth Empowerment in Action!, Kids Voting Missouri, Missouri Youth Engaged in Local Government, the Journal of Character Education, and graduate degree programs (M.Ed., Eddy., PhD). These programs serve hundreds of schools, educators, and students locally, nationally, and internationally.


Center for the Advancement of Ethics & Character


The mission of the Center for Character and Social Responsibility is to support the professional development of individuals and institutions that wish to expand their knowledge and skills in promoting 68 Restoring Character in America character development and taking social responsibility. The Center for Character and Social Responsibility is proud to sponsor Ethical Leadership: Character, Civility, and Community, a massive open online course (MOOC) taught by Professor Walter Earl Fluker, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership at the BU School of Theology. Registration for this course is free and available at: edx.org/course/ethical-leadership-character-civility-bux-leadershipx.


Center for the 4th and 5th Rs (Respect and Responsibility)


The Center for the 4th and 5th Rs (Respect and Responsibility) promotes a comprehensive approach to character education that has been widely adopted in the field. This approach uses every phase of school life—the teacher’s example, the content of the curriculum, the instructional process, the rigor of academic standards, the handling of rules and discipline, and the school’s intellectual and moral climate—as opportunities for character development. The Center offers an annual Summer Institute in Character Education (K-8), which has trained more than four thousand principals, teachers, and other educators from thirty-five states and fourteen countries and also provides on-site workshops and training. The Center has recently released a national report: Smart & Good High Schools: Integrating Excellence and Ethics for Success in School, Work and Beyond.




Over the past two-and-a-half decades, Character.org and the educational gateway Character Education Partnership have had a tremendous impact on schools and their communities. They offer an evidence-based framework for implementing and evaluating character development through: 11 Principles of Effective Character Education. This model is used across all programs and resources because of its demonstrated success. It focuses on developing character within schools and has recognized over five hundred Schools of Character for effectively integrating the eleven key principles and serving as mentors to others. With the objective of assisting with character Suggestions for More Information 69 development for all children, Character.org helps develop principled young adults and ultimately, powerful communities.



Character Counts!


CHARACTER COUNTS! 5.0, introduced in July 2015, integrates the FOUR WHEELS OF SUCCESS – Academic Competency (keyed to Common Core), Social-Emotional Growth (including 21st Century college and career readiness), Character Development (built upon The Six Pillars of Character®) and Positive School Climate (including school safety and anti-bullying strategies). An initiative of the nonprofit Josephson Institute, CHARACTER COUNTS! And our Pursuing Victory With Honor® sports program, have been successfully instituted in schools, youth serving organizations, communities through a wide range of trainings, consultation and support resources.


Families of Character


Families of Character offers a tool that helps families be intentional with their interactions. With a framework of virtuous living, a parent learns to build peace in the home now and a family to be proud of in the future. This is an online, discussion-based course that develops character through the acquisition of virtues. The organization realizes that character is made up of good habits—also known as virtues—that are developed over time. By cultivating one virtue at a time, families learn all about good habits and how to put them into daily practice in their own lives. With videos, self-assessments, guided practice, and goal tracking, families succeed in becoming happier and healthier.


Fellowship of Christian Athletes


The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) is an international nonprofit Christian sports ministry based in Kansas City, Missouri. Founded in 1954, it has staff offices located throughout the United 70 Restoring Character in America States and abroad. FCA’s mission is to present to athletes and coaches, and all who they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church. Its vision is to bring Christ to the world through the influence of coaches and athletes.


Focus on the Family


Focus on the Family is a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive. They provide help and resources for couples to build healthy marriages grounded in Biblical principles. They support families as they teach their children about God and His beautiful design for the family, show them how to protect themselves from the harmful influences of the culture, and equip them to make a greater difference in the lives of those around them.


Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development


The Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development is a laboratory within the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. The Institute has the mandate and goal to be a center of excellence for the conduct and dissemination of top-tier scholarship and for the education and professional development of graduate and undergraduate students interested in enhancing the lives of diverse children, families, and communities. The Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development envisions a world wherein the strengths possessed by all young people are used to promote their positive development, life chances, and civic engagement, and, as well, to advance the institutions of civil society. Predicated on the generation and application of developmental research, the promotion of positive development among diverse youth will occur through integrated civic actions of practitioners, policy makers, and young people themselves.


 John Templeton Foundation


The John Templeton Foundation aims to advance human wellbeing by supporting research on science and the big questions, character development, individual freedom and free markets,  exceptional cognitive talent and genius, and genetics. The Foundation takes its vision from its founding benefactor, the late Sir John Templeton, who sought to stimulate what he described as “spiritual progress.” Sir John Templeton lived in an era of unparalleled scientific and technological progress. The accelerating pace of scientific discovery led Sir John to wonder whether the methods of science might be harnessed to make similar progress in understanding the deepest and most perplexing questions facing humankind. Today, the Foundation that bears his name aspires to fulfill his vision—relentless curiosity in pursuit of infinite discovery.


Josephson Institute of Ethics


The mission of the Josephson Institute is “to improve the ethical quality of society by changing personal and organizational decision making and behavior.” In this space, Michael Josephson and the Center for Business Ethics faculty will provide expert insights and resources to promote professional development. Their goal is to increase ethical commitment, competence, and practice in all segments of society. As a nonpartisan and nonsectarian 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, individual donations, foundation and corporate grants, fees and contributions for services, and sales of educational resources fund the Institute. The Institute also works collaboratively with influential organizations and individuals in a variety of fields.


KIPP Charter Schools


KIPP schools are tuition-free, public charter schools open to all students. KIPP schools are united by a common mission: a commitment to excellence, and a belief that if children develop the academic and character strengths they need for college and choice-filled lives, they will be able to build a better tomorrow for themselves, for their communities, for all.


Leadership Academy in Character Education (LACE)


LACE™ is a complex and comprehensive yearlong professional development experience for school leaders. The Center engages in research, education, and advocacy to foster the development of character, democratic citizenship, and civil society. Funded by grants, individual donations, and corporate and foundation support, the Center focuses on generating and disseminating both knowledge and research pertaining to how individuals develop moral and civic character. By providing scholars, educators, and social organizations with the tools they need to contribute to this development, the Center plays the role of a think tank, offering workshops, consulting, and professional development. The Center also provides resources and tool kits to assist educators, parents, and scholars in character and citizenship education.


My Hero Project


The mission of MY HERO is to use media, art, and technology to celebrate the best of humanity and to empower people of all ages to realize their own potential and effect positive change in the world. This freely accessible, not-for-profit project is supported by visitors of all ages who share stories, art, and short films on our award-winning multimedia journal and digital library.


Play Like A Champion

Playlikeachampion.org Play Like a Champion Today provides leadership in a worldwide effort to promote an inclusive, developmentally-oriented youth sports culture. It does this primarily by educating ethically responsible sport leaders – coaches, parents, athletic administrators and athletes – who in turn will reach millions of young people. Our research-based, nonprofit initiative is unique in its focus on fostering moral and spiritual development through sports.


Positive Coaching Alliance


Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) develops  through resources for youth and high school sports coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes. In addition to 1,500+ free audio-video and printable tips and tools at www.PCADevZone.org, PCA has partnered with roughly 3,500 schools and youth sports organizations nationwide to deliver live group workshops, online courses and books by PCA Founder Jim Thompson that help those involved in youth and high school sports create a positive, character-building youth sports culture. PCA resources, which have reached more than 8.6 million youth, strive to transform high school and youth sports into a Development Zone™ culture, where the goal is to develop Better Athletes, Better People and the following become the prevailing models in youth and high school sports. PCA gains support from a National Advisory Board, including National Spokesperson and 11-time NBA Champion Coach Phil Jackson, and many other top coaches, athletes, organization leaders and academics who share PCA’s mission.



Project Wisdom


Project Wisdom, Inc. is an independent, nonpolitical, for-profit organization founded in 1992 by Leslie Luton Matula, a veteran public school and community volunteer, professional writer, and independent student of human excellence. After years of on-site volunteer work, Leslie identified a need to more actively foster responsible, caring, and ethical student behavior. The vision is to build CHARACTER by helping students take responsibility for their choices and actions, to build CONFIDENCE by motivating students to do their personal best, and to build COMMUNITY by inspiring students to contribute to the world around them while honoring the diversity that makes the country great.


The Character Education Network


The Character Education Network is a place for students, teachers, schools and communities to facilitate character education. This site is dedicated to providing quality online, ready-to-use curriculum, activities and resources that integrate with and enhance the classroom experience. It allows schools and students to network together by sharing ideas and experiences with others in their community and nationwide.


The First Tee Program


Their mission is to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. Through after-school and in-school programs, they help shape the lives of young people from all walks of life by reinforcing values like integrity, respect, and perseverance through the game of golf. And it’s making a difference. This research-proven program is having a positive impact on participants, their families, and their communities.


The Giraffe Project


Founded in 2005 by Richard and Denise Baines, teachers in International schools and colleges in Belgium, the Giraffe Project is a UKregistered charity providing educational opportunities for children and young people from extremely deprived areas of Nairobi. It works closely with the schools in and around the slums, and also provides support for teenagers to finish their studies in boarding schools outside. Graduates from secondary schools are sometimes offered places in vocational training colleges. All the schools are managed and run by local people. The charity has grown steadily since its inception in 2005. The trustees are committed to grow the charity in keeping with its stated objects, with the help of a staff of expert volunteers, and with at least 95 percent of all funds raised reach the projects in Kenya. In the case of sponsorships, 100 percent is committed to the schooling and well being of the individual students sponsored.


The Virtues Project


The Virtues Project™ is a global grassroots initiative to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life, sparking a global revolution of kindness, justice, and integrity in more than one hundred countries through Facilitators, Master Facilitators, Champions and Virtues Connections. The Virtues Project empowers individuals to live more authentic meaningful lives, families to raise  children of compassion and integrity, educators to create safe, caring, and high-performing learning communities, and leaders to encourage excellence and ethics in the workplace. It has inspired and mobilized people worldwide to commit acts of service and generosity, to heal violence with virtues. The Five Strategies™ awaken the gifts of character, through inspiring programs, books, and materials that help people to remember who they really are and to encourage living by the highest values.




The Content of America’s Character: Recovering Civic Virtue

Compilation edited by Don E. Eberly


Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification

Christopher Peterson and Martin E. P. Seligman


Character Matters: How To Help Our Children Develop Good Judgment, Integrity, and Other Essential Virtues

Thomas Lickona


Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being

Martin E. P. Seligman


GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Duckworth


How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

Paul Tough


On a Life Well Spent

Marcus Tullius Cicero


On Character: Essays by James Q. Wilson

James Q. Wilson


Self-Reliance: The Wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson . . . as Inspiration for Daily Living

Edited by Richard Whelan


The Book Of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories

Edited by William J. Bennett


The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age Without Good or Evil

James Davison Hunter


The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Charles Duhigg


Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence

Alexander Havard


Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong: And What We Can Do About It

William Kilpatrick


Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Roy F. Baumeister & John Tierney

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