Meaningful impacts.  

Measurable results.

Sustainable outcomes.

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“It's important to continue this in our school to produce respectful and successful students that contribute to society positively."

Erin Nevin, Teacher

“It has made a positive impact on our student behavior and our school climate. We need this in our school because students need accountability."

Kaitlin McCluskey, Teacher

“Our students have come alive with the language, finding ways to recognize one another practicing their character traits."

Maria Zafuto, Principal

“The school climate at Hamlin Park has been transformed. We grew from a school on the verge of being shut down to a school in good standing; a school operating in fear to a school operating on positivity and hope; and a climate of compassion, caring, respect, and responsibility that is embraced school-wide by teachers, staff, students. Hamlin Park is now a school to be proud of.” 

Lauren Golpl, Teacher

“CITRS is equipped, knowledgeable and offers life changing materials that helps promote character."

​Rachel McCarley, Social Worker

“Students develop perseverance so they can pursue their goals despite their frustrations, mistakes, setbacks, and other obstacles that make learning and other difficult tasks seem impossible. It nurtures social and emotional development needed for learning.”

​Autumn Zasowski, Teacher

“Our disciplinary referrals have decreased. Our students are happy. We have a common vocabulary that allows us, the staff, to have more productive conversations with our students. We are building stronger relationships with our students every day.” 

Sarah Vittoria, Assistant Principal

“Students are happier to be in school.”

​Jeff Banks, ​Principal

Sample Two Year Impact Findings 

The CITRS/CHARACTER COUNTS! Character Initiative focused on the development of character, social emotional learning, school climate and academic improvement in the Buffalo Public School District (BPSD).

Two external evaluators, Multi-Dimensional Education Inc. (MDed) and Community Connections of New York (CCNY), studied the two year impacts of the initiative and reported the following.


Improved Reading Proficiency

MDed conducted an evaluation of the publicly available academic data provided by the New York Department of Education for the BPSD schools participating in the initiative, compared to non-participating BPSD schools (control group).

In the first 2 years of the initiative, participating schools experienced statistically significant improvements in reading proficiency (ELA), compared to the control group. Improved English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency is a major predictor of other academic outcomes. It should be noted that most interventions do not produce statistical evidence of academic change until years 3 and 4 of programming. This academic impact after only 2 years is notable and publishable.

Survey Results

CCNY reported the following exceptional findings:

  • 97% of administrators, teachers, and staff support the initiative

  • 85% of parents support the initiative

  • 76% of parents believe the initiative has had a positive impact on student behavior

  • 78% of elementary school students believe the initiative helps them be a good person

  • 76% of high school students believe the initiative helps them be a good person

  • 81% of administrators, teachers, and staff believe the initiative is effective

  • 78% of parents believe the initiative is effective

  • 78% of high school students believe the initiative is effective

Student Reported Growth by Character Trait

The graph below shows significant growth in each character trait that elementary (E), middle (M),

and high (H) school students feel likely to display. There is a notable increase year over year.  


Change in Receivership Status

In 2017, CITRS, in collaboration with CHARACTER COUNTS!, implemented a groundbreaking comprehensive character initiative in 20 schools in Buffalo Public Schools. Approximately 14,000 pre-K – 12 students have benefited from the initiative, along with teachers, parents, and the surrounding community.

At the start of the CITRS initiative, 9 schools were in receivership. The State of New York had identified these schools as "Persistently Struggling" and/or "Struggling to make Demonstrable Improvement" and on the verge of being shut down. Two years into the initiative, 8 of the 9 schools achieved the necessary improvement to be removed from receivership status.  

School Transformation at Harvey Austin School

Buffalo Public School District’s Harvey Austin School #97 was designated a National School of Character by, the national advocate and leader for character in schools, families, sports and the workplace, headquartered in Washington, DC. It's quite an achievement, especially given the school was under Receivership Status by the State of New York and was on the verge of being shut down. This national recognition as School of Character is the result of Harvey Austin’s unrelenting focus and dedication to the comprehensive initiative managed by CITRS in partnership with CHARACTER COUNTS!. ​