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"If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together."


— African Proverb


A Collaborative Approach 

CITRS works with school and district leadership to design and implement initiatives that meet long-term goals for sustainable, character-centered environments. CITRS does not provide any direct instruction to students. Rather, we empower schools with evidence-based resources and strategies so that teachers can customize instruction to meet the specific needs of their own classrooms and students. While we offer a range of options to meet varying budgets, in order to build a solid foundation for sustainability, we always seek to raise the required funds to support our 3-year Gold Standard program.

CITRS is also keenly aware of the many demands placed on principals, teachers, and staff. The last thing we want to do is introduce yet another program that isn't sustainable. Thus we work to integrate best practices into the culture of each school, while leveraging existing programs. We invest heavily in mentor coaches to provide ongoing one-on-one supports to staff for the entire three-year initiative. With a collaborative and comprehensive approach we aim to achieve long-term success for students, not just in school—but in life.

Three Options to Meet Every Budget

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CITRS will work with your school and district leadership teams to customize a program that meets the specific needs of your local school community. A tailored program provides many options for training, mentoring, the app, materials, parent/guardian outreach, and reporting to cultivate positive character-centered environments for all students.

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This three-year comprehensive initiative delivers school communities with the most transformative results for sustained character and social emotional development. This proven initiative utilizes best-in-class tools and resources, the app, training, mentoring, and external evaluator reporting of measurable results.  

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Perfect for teachers and homeschoolers, the CITRS-developed app is an affordable and effective solution that brings CC! and CITRS resources to the fingertips of every educator. Lessons are provided daily in multiple forms, including stories, video clips, songs, quotes and challenging inspirations for the entire school community.

The App Offers Affordable Access for All

CITRS works to continuously innovate new ways to expand our initiatives at a lower cost. We use technology, data, and digital solutions to help make our programs more affordable and scaleable.  


The CITRS-developed CHARACTER COUNTS! app is the first and only of its kind that offers daily lessons to support teachers in integrating character development into their daily routines. Every day fresh new content is available based on the CHARACTERCOUNTS! Six Pillars of Character Framework (Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship). Daily content includes a daily lesson, a daily inspiration, and a daily quote. This mobile and web-based application is comprehensive and dynamic, yet simple and easy to use.

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​Character and Social Emotional Development (CSED)

Character development is difficult enough without needing multiple programs.'s groundbreaking new Model Standards for Character & Social Emotional Development (CSED) were developed in partnership with leading experts in the fields of both character and SEL. These comprehensive standards for grades K-12 provide detailed outcomes for students across the four dimensions of character coupled with the five skills of social-emotional learning. CSED is aligned to the full range of current educational approaches, including multi-tiered systems of support, PBIS, trauma-informed initiatives, and restorative practices. 


All CITRS programs, including the app, are aligned to CSED.

We aim to cultivate environments in which students develop both their character strengths and their social-emotional skills. We maintain that schools should not "just" do character development or "just" do SEL because, either way, their programs are incomplete. In order for a program to be truly complete and most effective, it needs to be holistic and aligned with CSED.

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Based on’s CSED Model Standards

  • Performance Character: To demonstrate the character strengths of self-discipline, responsibility, goal setting, and grit. 

  • ​Intellectual Character: To demonstrate the character strengths of curiosity, carefulness, intellectual autonomy and humility, open-mindedness and critical thinking.

  • ​Civic Character: To demonstrate  the character strengths of fairness, respect, volunteering and contributing to the common good. 

  • Moral Character: To demonstrate the character strengths of honesty and integrity, caring and compassion, gratitude, and the courage to take initiative.


  • Responsible decision-making: To make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical principles, safety concerns, appropriate social norms, respect for self and others, and the likely consequence of your decision. 

  • Relationship Skills: To establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups, to communicate clearly, actively listen, collaborate and cooperate, manage conflict constructively, seek and offer help when needed, and resist inappropriate peer pressure. 

  • Social Awareness: To empathize and take the perspective of others, including demonstrating awareness of cultural differences and respect for human dignity. 

  • Self-Management:  To consistently manage and regulate your impulses, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations. 



  • ​Self-Awareness: To recognize, understand, and express your own thoughts, emotions, mindsets, and personal strengths, including how emotions can affect thoughts and actions. 

A Proven Framework

CITRS uses a proven framework comprised of four essential components to launch, implement, and sustain our initiatives: Collaboration, Best Practices, Mentoring, and Whole-School Community. Central to our approach is to grant significant freedom and flexibility for teachers to decide how best to incorporate character development into their respective routines with an extensive tool box of resources. 

​While improvements in school climate do not happen overnight, we are routinely amazed by how quickly the seeds of a school's collective efforts begin to yield noticeable and measurable results. 

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CITRS works alongside educators to customize programs to meet the individual needs and budget requirements of every school.  ​

  • We bring various stakeholders together—including district leadership, local government leaders, community organizations, and third party evaluators.​

  • We secure private funding—from individuals, private companies, and foundations— to supplement school budgets to fund comprehensive programs.

  • We facilitate strategic partnerships with program providers to ensure participating schools have access to the best-in-class resources at the lowest possible cost.

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Best practices are derived from more than a decade of experience working with schools to optimize sustainable outcomes.

  • We utilize evidenced-based curricula, resources, materials and technology.

  • We promote a common language to integrate character development into existing programs, including PBIS, bullying intervention, and restorative practice.

  • We provide the CITRS / CHARACTER COUNTS! app to streamline content and keep daily lessons, daily quotes, and daily inspirations at teachers' fingertips.

  • We measure and report on baseline and annual assessment metrics.

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One can never underestimate the integral role of in-person human interaction to model best practices and behaviors.

  • ​We provide on-site training and mentorship for principals, teachers and parents—for three years.

  • We invest in Mentor/Coaches to support all aspects of program implementation including on-site introductory training, monthly visits, and periodic check-ins.

  • We work with the school leadership to identify Character Champions who are members of the staff and community to volunteer to lead day-to-day communications and activities. 

It takes the entire school community to improve school climate with comprehensive character development.

  • We recommend that school participation be voluntary and at the sole discretion of the school principal.  Without the ownership and leadership of the school principal, the program simply will not be successful long term.

  • We provide strategies and direct support to get everyone engaged—from teachers, to parents, to custodial staff, to bus drivers, to athletic coaches, to counselors, to students—plus everyone in between!   ​

  • We use data to measure and report on important program fidelity metrics.

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Strategic Partnerships

CITRS partners with the following organizations to assist our efforts to bring the best character-centered initiatives to more schools.

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CHARACTERCOUNTS! is housed at The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. As a global initiative that transforms lives and strengthens communities, CHARACTERCOUNTS! supports our mission to improve civility through character development and ethical leadership.  CHARACTERCOUNTS! has demonstrated success as a stand-alone initiative or working in alignment with other programs such as PBIS to foster positive climate change to produce exceptional results in the academic, social and emotional, character development and school-climate domains.


Multi-Dimensional Education Inc.'s goal is to improve the lives of children by helping youth-focused organizations, schools and agencies collect, analyze and utilize more sound evidence-driven approaches to continuous improvement. MDed has assisted more than 150 school systems, state agencies and national organizations in their work with children. Holding to the highest ethical practices and standards, they have directed the research for more than $19.5 million in federal studies.​


Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) provide shared educational programs and services to school districts within the state of New York. Today there are 37 BOCES that are partnering with nearly all of the state’s school districts to help meet students’ evolving educational needs through cost-effective and relevant programs.  The BOCES network is capable of including municipalities and divisions of the state with school districts in the provision of cost-effective services.

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The Character Council of Western New York exists to promote the benefits of good character and facilitate the continual development of character excellence for citizens within our community. The Council proudly endorses CITRS as an exceptional provider of character development programming.


The Pennsylvania Character Consortium is made up of leading character educators and experts from many states. Its mission is to advocate for comprehensive social and emotional character development standards to be added into PA's Core Academic Standards.