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Current Projects

Building Character through a Game-based Solution to a Community Challenge (Youth Ready-Evoke) 

Funder: Templeton World Charity Foundation

Collaborators: World Vision Honduras, World Vision US, World Bank, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras

Youth in Honduras are facing numerous challenges including extreme poverty, natural disasters, gang violence, and political upheaval. The bleak outlook and lack of opportunities in Honduras has led to massive youth migration. 

Through their Youth Ready program, World Vision has helped thousands of vulnerable youth across the globe discover their potential, plan for their future, and gain the skills, support, character, and confidence to succeed in work and life. In 2010, the World Bank launched an innovative online program called Evoke that promotes youth leadership through cohort-designed and implemented, community-based activities that focus on resolving global challenges such as literacy, water scarcity, human trafficking, and gang violence. This project integrates these two programs and implements them in Honduras. Our research and evaluation focuses on refining the understanding of what drives youth character development and understanding how and to what extent Youth Ready-Evoke produces positive youth outcomes. Building in- country capacity to conduct high quality research and evaluation is a key component of this project. Best practices and results from this project will be disseminated to enable scalability of youth character development programs around the world.

Related Links for Youth Ready: Short Video, Youth Character Building, Hope for Honduras

Related Links for Evoke: Promotional Video, Game Supports Social Innovation

Can Leadership Virtues be Taught: Developing Virtuous School Leaders (LACE/PACE)

Funder: John Templeton Foundation

Collaborators: University of Missouri, St. Louis

Turnover of both principals and teachers is a serious problem for school districts across the country although it is most intense for those serving the poorest and lowest performing students. Theoretically, Servant Leadership (SL) instantiates the universal truth that service to others quenches a spiritual thirst in humans for leading lives of love and virtue while at the same time filling the functional need in modern institutions for staff who are highly engaged, productive and resilient. Can the SL virtues of humility, gratitude, forgiveness and courage be taught through virtue explicit professional development? How can the explicit cultivation of these virtues be integrated into existing in-service school leader programming such as the Leadership Academy in Character Education (LACE)? 

RYTE is building the capacity of participating National Schools of Character work-teams to develop high-quality, theory of change (pathway) models for their schools. Due to COVID-19, this work now also includes working with Schools of Character to reflect on and develop models that articulate how their approach to character can inform their return to school with a particular focus on supporting the social and emotional development of students and addressing issues of racial and social justice. The results of this project have the potential to inform schools across the country on best practices for addressing the ever more urgent social and emotional needs of our youth.

Global Partnerships for Advancing Character Program Evaluation (PACE Global)

Funder: Templeton World Charity Foundation

Character development is a potential lever for social change and human flourishing. However, most of the research and funding for character/social-emotional development programs have been concentrated in the US and Europe. There is a pressing need to broaden character development research and implementation capacity to non-WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) countries. 

Global Partnerships for Advancing Character Program Evaluation (PACE Global), is designed to immediately increase the capacity of practitioners in low- and middle-income countries to evaluate, improve, defend and seek funding for their programs. RYTE provides customized relational capacity-building to aid grant applicants in strengthening their project proposals. This includes providing evaluation and character capacity-building in the form of one-on-one in-person and virtual support, special topic webinars, and speaking engagement. Due to COVID-19, our work with our partner programs pivoted to helping them sustain their programmatic work during the pandemic. 

As part of this project, we are providing capacity building for several international programs. A sample of programs we are supporting follows: 

1) IRD Pakistan. For most Pakistanis, Lady Health Workers (LHW) are the first—and only point of contact—with the health system. These female frontline healthcare workers address the country’s high maternal and child morbidity and mortality and provide reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health services at the household level throughout Pakistan. LHWs work with the most vulnerable members of the population and are often themselves the victims of violence. This project aims to strengthen and sustain character virtues that can enhance LHWs’ sense of joy, purpose, and self-worth, while also giving them the skills they need to deliver compassionate care across diverse communities.

2) Enhancing Social Responsibility and Prosocial Leadership in Elementary School Children in Brazil. Convivencia—or “coexistence”—is a concept that is of vital importance in a society as diverse and multicultural as Brazil. This project aims to nurture the character strengths central to convivência among school-aged children in Curitiba, Brazil. Specifically, the project aims to test the effectiveness of a program to increase social responsibility and prosocial behaviors as well as reduce peer victimization among elementary school children (grades 4-5). 

 

Greater Good in Action 2.0: Making the Science of Character Virtue More Practical, Engaging, and Impactful 

Funder: John Templeton Foundation, 

Collaborators: Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley

Over the past two decades, research has identified concrete, practical activities that boost character virtues such as gratitude, awe, and generosity. Greater Good in Action (GGIA) is a free, mobile-optimized website (>500,000 annual visitors) featuring more than 70 research-based activities that support a range of character virtues. RYTE is conducting the evaluation of the project. Ultimately, this project will yield scientific insights about character development that inform best practices across clinical and educational settings.