Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

The Character Formation Project respects your privacy, and we want you to be confident in sharing your information with us. We’ve written the following statement to disclose any of the information we gather while you are using our site.

We do not share any identifiable information with any third party at any point in your relationship with us without your permission.

We collect certain technical information to ensure that our site is working properly. For example, when you are browsing, we use your IP address to help diagnose problems with our servers, and to help administer our website.

The Character Formation Project does not use cookies to retrieve any information about you from your computer.

The information we may request from you is outlined below. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the webmaster.

Email Address: If you wish to be contacted by email, we require that you provide us with your email address.

Contact Info: When a user decides to use any of our services, we collect complete contact information, i.e. full name, address and phone number as well as other personal information. This information is only used by the Character Formation Project to validate the user’s identity and to provide the services by the Character Formation Project.

We take reasonable precautions to maintain the security of the personal information you provide to our site.

Our site contains links to other websites. The Character Formation Project is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of such websites.

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, or your dealings with this website, please contact us at:

The Character Formation Project



Legal Disclaimer

By using our site, you understand and expressly agree to be legally bound by these Terms and Conditions and our Privacy Policy and to follow these Terms and Conditions and all applicable laws and regulations governing our site.

We reserve the right to change these Terms and Conditions at any time, effective immediately upon posting on our site.

Character Formation Project is a registered trademark.

Our character formation process is service marked. Its imagery and language may not be copied or reproduced in any form.

All materials incorporated in or accessible through this site, including, without limitation, text, photographs, images, graphics, illustrations, logos, button icons, audio clips, video clips, software, and other content, and the compilation, collection, arrangement, and assembly thereof (including the look and feel of this site), are protected by United States and international copyright laws, and are owned or controlled by the Character Formation Project or by the original creators of such materials or their respective assignees.

Any use of such materials, including any copying, reproduction, modification, sale, distribution, transmission, republication, downloading, display, posting, performance, or other exploitation thereof by any means or medium without the prior written permission of the Character Formation Project or other copyright owner is strictly prohibited.

In the event of any permitted use of such materials, including, without limitation, any copying, reproduction, distribution, republication, downloading, or display thereof, you will make no changes in or deletion of author attribution, trademark legend, or copyright notice. No right, title, or interest in any such materials will be granted or transferred to you as a result of any permitted use of such materials.

While every effort is made to ensure that accurate information is disseminated through this medium, the Character Formation Project makes no representation about the content and suitability of the information provided on this website for any purpose.

It is provided “as is” without express or implied warranty.

The Character Formation Project disclaims all warranties with regard to this website, including all implied warranties or merchantability and fitness. In no event shall the Character Formation Project be liable for any special indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of income or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising in connection with the use or performance of this website.

Further, the Character Formation Project has provided Hypertext links to a number of sites. This should NOT be taken as implying any link between us and those various organizations or individuals.

The Character Formation Project

Our Unique Process

We designed our unique process to
make character formation intentional and lasting.

process triangle

The process begins with an understanding of
how character is formed and where it is held.

How character is formed

Character is formed when four essential elements are present:

 Influential people’s stories: This could be my own story, the story of an influential person in my life, or heroes in society or history.

Pain and struggle: This could be my own pain and struggle, or the experience of another person. Either way, I need to stand in the shoes of that person and feel his or her pain and struggle.

A Greater Purpose: A cause or passion I love deeply, for which I would relinquish my own self-interest. It is a context bigger than me. My Greater Purpose gives meaning to everything I do.

Practice: A commitment to acting out the virtues in the story, inspired by what I have discovered while reflecting on my Identity and Purpose within the larger context of Greater Purpose.

Where character is held:

Character is held internally. It is the answer to 3 very important and personal questions:

Who am I?
How shall I live?
Why am I?

Applying the process

Our 3-step character formation process guides Character Growers
through a discovery question technique in which the four essential elements are present.

Through vivid stories, Character Growers stand in the shoes of the person in the story and reflect on that person’s actions, as well as what their own actions might be in that situation.

The process guides
the Character Grower
to make a special
connection with the
person in the story,
internalizing the experience.

Finally, the process stimulates action, motivated by
Greater Purpose.


cfp process segments


When the process is applied correctly, it is more than behavior modification.
It forms deep, internally held, lasting character.

Meet Our Team

Project leaders

Ellen Bartling, Ph.D., national director-content and operations

Ellen served in the public schools of Wisconsin for 32 years before joining the Character Formation Project in 2013. Her experience as a classroom teacher, district level director of curriculum, assessment, instruction and staff development, elementary principal, high school principal, and district superintendent brings to the project a depth of practical knowledge about the way students learn and school climate and culture are created.

Throughout her career, Ellen collaborated with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies to increase educational experiences for students in global education, world languages, STEM, college and career preparation and character education.

Ellen earned her bachelor’s from UW-Platteville, her master’s from Marian University and her doctorate in urban education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Jack Preus, Ed.D., director of people development

Jack has more than 10 years’ experience in managing critical professional growth initiatives in K-12 education. Passionate about helping people grow, Jack leads the People Development function for Open Sky Education, ensuring that all teachers, staff, principals and National Team members are supported, inspired and equipped to grow intentionally as serving leaders. Prior to this role, Jack served Open Sky Education as the National Director of Educational Innovation, collaboratively leading core educational strategic initiatives to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of current educational operations, build capacity to serve more children, and expand the organization’s overall capabilities and impact.

Prior to joining Open Sky Education, Jack served as the Assistant Principal for academics at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, California. While at Orange Lutheran, he had been charged with developing and executing both near-term and long-term plans for academics, and provided leadership, vision, and strategic direction for Orange Lutheran’s curriculum, instruction, assessment and school improvement initiatives. Jack began his career in education as a successful History and Theology teacher as well as an award-winning Cross Country and Track and Field coach to hundreds of students at Orange Lutheran High School.

Jack completed his doctorate in educational leadership (Ed.D.) at UCLA in 2011 focusing his research on an inquiry-based approach to new teacher training. He earned his bachelor’s in history from the University of Missouri – Columbia, his master’s in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University – Irvine.

Andrew Neumann, Ph.D., project leader and co-founder

Andrew is an educational entrepreneur driven to ensure all children in America have access to excellent learning opportunities that maximize their potential to fulfill Greater Purpose and live flourishing lives. His passion is to contribute to building an educational ecosystem in America which will close global and national achievement gaps, build deeply held, internally driven character, and provide the option for faith formation to be an integral part of education for all who desire it regardless of a family’s income or zip code.

Andrew began his career as a teacher serving students at the high school and college levels while finishing his Ph.D. in educational mathematics. In 2006, he joined Open Sky Education (formerly Educational Enterprises) and serves as its Executive Chair/CEO. In this role, he supports the team to advance its mission, which includes the growth of its school networks (HOPE Christian Schools and EAGLE public charter schools), Christian wraparound programs (Compass Educational Programs), and the Character Formation Project.

In addition to his work at Open Sky Education, Andrew works to advance this mission for children by participating in a variety of speaking engagements as well as serving on the boards of mission-aligned organizations including School Choice Wisconsin, the Alliance for Choices in Education and the Institute for Missional Visioning.

Contributing Writers

The Character Formation Project’s robust content — including its appealing narratives and thoughtful lesson plans — are the result of hundreds of writers who have been trained to apply the unique character formation process to the vivid stories we’ve collected. Our writers group includes educators, parents and historians with diverse backgrounds and a firm grasp on the importance of character formation for individual lives and for society.

About the Character Formation Project

Throughout time, many have acknowledged the importance of character for a flourishing life and a virtuous society. Today, societal changes have left a gap in character formation. The rising generation has fewer role models and fewer connections to the stable institutions in which character is formed – families, churches, schools, community organizations.

Some have stepped forward to fill this gap. As a result, the educational landscape is starting to teem with character education materials. We applaud all these efforts, and we wish to contribute to this work with our own research and unique approach.

Many of today’s character education programs only seek to modify behavior. Behavior modification alone is fleeting – the good behavior can easily fall away outside the context of the classroom (or the home, or wherever the “rules” were created).

We envision something different: A program that helps people form internally driven character that lasts beyond the classroom and produces true serving leaders for society.

How it started

Our team of veteran educators set out to answer two key questions: How is character formed, and where is it held? The answers to these questions led to the development of our unique process.

We then began assembling hundreds of narratives and guides for leading character growers through a discovery process. We supplemented this content with training programs and developed a user-friendly platform to house the content. Three years of pilot programs with schools, organizations and homeschool families have allowed us to fine-tune the materials and supporting resources.

Today, the Character Formation Project is used in schools (both public and private), homes, Sunday schools, churches and professional development settings. 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.

The journey to Greater Purpose

Character formation is a lifelong journey. In our program, virtue is not the end goal. Rather, virtue is a means to accomplish Greater Purpose. We seek to develop flourishing people whose Identity, Purpose and Actions are intentionally aligned to serve a Greater Purpose.

Greater Purpose can take several forms depending on your educational setting. That’s why we’ve developed several approaches to character formation, suitable for a variety of settings. You may have noticed that both public and private schools participate in the Character Formation Project. That’s possible because our character formation process is common to all settings. The content varies depending on your educational setting.

Explore our site to learn more about our unique process, our content, and how to join the Character Formation Project.

Throughout all of this work, dedicated philanthropists have walked beside us, funding our research. We are grateful for their support to bring the Character Formation Project to life.

Number of partners graphic


Join the Character Formation Project!

The Character Formation Project
20935 West Swenson Drive, Suite 101
Waukesha, Wis. 53186



    • 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


    We support the growth of lasting character that
    leads to a flourishing life for Greater Purpose.

    Are you ready to explore more? choose your content

    Civic Content Faith-Based Content Homeschool Subscription

    Two students looking at tablet

    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. The Character Formation Project
    will help you identify your Greater Purpose and grow
    character in that context. Our Greater Purpose
    gives meaning to everything we do.


    family looking at tablet

    Built to Last

    Many character programs seek to modify behavior. We set out to learn how character is formed and where it is held, so we could help shape character that lasts beyond a school day or a particular setting. The answers to these questions led us to the development of our unique process for forming internally driven, lasting character. Our training programs teach the process, so adults, students, families and entire organizations can journey together toward the formation of lasting character.


    Our team has developed hundreds of vivid narratives, lesson plans and facilitator guides.
    Choose your content based on your educational setting.

    Smartphone viewing Character Formation Project material

    Our online, easy-to-navigate platform makes accessing the content convenient and affordable.
    The platform and app for mobile devices enable parents, teachers, students and other mentors
    to collaborate on the character formation journey. The platform’s video training
    modules and customer service access ensure success.