What Others Say | Civic Content

The Character Formation Project generates rich conversations:

We taught the “Pappy’s Handkerchief” lesson to our third graders. My students were thoroughly engaged in the story, and afterwards we discussed what the moral of the story was. They came up with many good answers, among them: the importance of persevering. Then, many students had examples from their own lives to share–of how they personally had to overcome obstacles to achieve a goal. One student told me about how their family had run out of grocery money and so she went around her neighborhood to do odd jobs to raise a bit of money. I was saddened by how matter of fact she related this story, because apparently that was a usual circumstance that her family experiences. However, I noticed that other students in the class were nodding along and seemed impressed by her can-do attitude.  — Third grade teacher in an Illinois public school district

We recently did a lesson about Respect that had the book Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco as the main text. We watched a read aloud version on YouTube and discussed. Respect is something my class has struggled with all year, especially peer to peer respect. We had a great discussion on how they can be respectful to one another and adults, a conversation that then went on to discuss empathy and how it goes along with respect. My students completed a “What Would You Do?” assignment. We all shared our different scenario reactions, and, hearing the others’ answers, a lot of the students said they would think about using each other’s ideas to handle a situation that was similar.  —  Fifth grade teacher in an Illinois public school district

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We’ll support your journey to lasting character.

If you are seeking a more intentional approach to character growth for your educational setting, organization or family, we provide the tools and the community to support your journey toward strong, internally motivated character that transcends time and consequences.

The Character Formation Project is used in a wide variety of educational settings, including schools, homes, organizations, and professional development. We count nearly 125,000 students and 35,000 teachers who have experienced the program through our partnership agreements. Approximately 5,000 Character Growers are connected and engaged on our delivery platform.

Our partners are using our platform to increase engagement in character formation throughout their schools and organizations. Some are customizing programming to align with their particular goals or settings.

Talk with us about customizing a subscription to fit the unique needs of your school or organization.


Ellen Bartling, Ph.D. | Managing Director
The Character Formation Project
20935 West Swenson Drive, Suite 101
Waukesha, Wis. 53186

Civic Content and Services

Supporting your journey to lasting character.

When you choose the Civic Character Formation Project, your subscription features the vivid narratives of hundreds of historical and contemporary Americans whose stories compel the Character Grower to reflect on timeless virtues. The narratives and lesson plans are designed to ignite rich conversations and form lasting, internally motivated character.

A fulfilling and virtuous life is expressed when one’s Identity, Purpose, and Actions are completely aligned. Here’s how our Civic content supports this alignment:

  • We build our view of Identity on the following truth: “All people are created equal.” This truth provides essential perspective on what it means to be human and to treat others humanely
  • As members of a civil society, we share a common Purpose to advance human freedoms for ourselves and others. These human freedoms include life, liberty and the opportunity to pursue a fulfilling life
  • To preserve and advance these freedoms, people in a civil society must engage and interact in humane ways with one another. As such, our Actions are guided by a framework of civic virtues. The seven civic virtues used in the Character Formation Project are drawn from the personal stories of diverse individuals who have advanced these human freedoms in their own lives

The seven civic virtues:

Our Civic programming focuses on seven virtues which have been exhibited throughout time by countless individuals who have worked to advance human freedom. The seven virtues are Justice, Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Self-Sacrifice, Diligence and Courage.

Civic content features:

  • A vast narrative library featuring stories from the American colonial period through present day
  • The narrative library contains an ethnically, racially, and socio-economically diverse group of characters and settings
  • 504 Facilitator Guides that provide background information about the narratives
  • 504 lesson plans that guide users through the discovery question technique and the 3-step character formation process
  • Recommended content tailored for various age levels, PK-12
  • Expandable for all educational settings including classrooms, professional development and after-school care programs
  • Content is supported by an intuitive online platform along with a mobile app that promotes engagement between parents, teachers, students and/or other mentors
  • Both digital and print-friendly materials
  • Video training modules guide users through the platform and build familiarity with the character formation process.
  • Onsite training available

Additional customization and support

Our online platform is designed to make accessing the materials convenient and affordable. It increases engagement, enables co-creation, and unlocks the potential of the collective of Character Growers.

Your partnership agreement also can include:

  • Customization of character programming to align with your unique application or setting
  • A combination of online video training modules and onsite training by experienced, world-class trainers

Civic Character Formation Project

  • Tecumseh

  • Cesar Chavez

    Cesar Chavez
  • MLK

  • Ruby Bridges

    Ruby Bridges
  • Sonia Sotomayor

    Sonia Sotomayor
  • George Washington Carver

    George Washington Carver
  • Abraham Lincoln

    Abraham Lincoln
  • Helen Keller
    Lesson 35 | Integrity
    Helen Keller


The Civic Character Formation Project
prepares people to lead fulfilling and virtuous
lives serving Greater Purpose.

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student smiling at desk

Why Character?

Character is an internal energy that inspires us to act, restrains us from acting, and gives us the wisdom or moral compass to know when each action is appropriate. Everything we do in life is driven by our character. When character is acquired and held internally, it leads to a virtuous life, lived for a Greater Purpose.



Greater Purpose is a cause or passion we love deeply, for which we would
relinquish our own self-interest. It is a context bigger than ourselves. As members of a civil society,
we share a common purpose to advance human freedoms for ourselves and others.
These human freedoms include life, liberty and the opportunity to pursue a fulfilling life.

The Civic Character Formation Project grows character in
the larger context of preserving human freedom. Concepts come
alive through the vivid stories of historical and contemporary
Americans who acted to preserve and advance human freedom.


Character is not what I do. It is who I am.

family looking at tablet

The Civic Character Formation Project guides participants through a unique process that deepens their understanding of Identity (who I am), Purpose (why I exist), and Actions (how my actions serve a Greater Purpose). Our process unfolds within the greater context of advancing human freedom. The result is internally held character that motivates acts of virtue.

Seven key virtues are explored and practiced throughout the process. While these virtues are an essential part of the process, virtuous living is not the end goal. Rather, virtues are a means to accomplish Greater Purpose.

Smartphone viewing Character Formation Project material


Our team has developed hundreds of vivid narratives, lesson
plans and facilitator guides for a variety of educational settings.
Our online platform and app for mobile devices enable parents,
teachers, students and other mentors to collaborate
on the character formation journey.

  • Limited prep time
  • Rich conversation starters
  • Mobile and print-friendly versions
  • Online and onsite training modules available
  • Join a community of character growers

Learn how your school or organization 
can join the Character Formation Project.

Learn How to Join View Products & Content