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It's the age old question:

Who are you and who do

you want to become?

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What We Do

CITRS designs, implements, and funds character initiatives in grades K-12 that empower educators to create nurturing and safe environments to engage children on their individual character journeys. We work to create opportunities in school communities for every child to explore the kind of person they want to become, not just as it relates to grades, test scores, trophies won, or Instagram followers amassed— but who they want to become as people. Do they want to be kind? Trustworthy? Empathetic?At CITRS, we believe that every child deserves equal access to the absolute best character-centered programs, whether in a public, private or home school environment.


that is the goal of true education."

Martin Luther King Jr. 

What is Character?

Simply speaking, character is who you are, not what you've achieved. More formally, character is the aggregate pattern of behavior, decisions, and actions that become habit over a person's lifetime. For the purpose of designing school-based character initiatives, CITRS maintains the following:​​

  • Character is based on many character strengths, such as honesty, empathy, kindness, perseverance, and respect.

  • Character cannot be imposed; it can only be developed.​

  • ​Character is unique to each individual.

  • ​​Character is a lifelong journey that evolves over time.​

The word character is derived from the Greek word charaktēr, meaning  
​"mark or distinctive quality."


What is Character Development?

As defined by, character development is a comprehensive and holistic approach to helping children understand, care about and consistently practice character stengths that will support students in school, relationships, and the workplace. ​At CITRS, we have identified 185 Character Strengths that contribute to one's character.  For anyone new to the field of character development, it's often helpful to share the breadth and depth of the vocabulary used to define what we mean when we simply say, "character."  As you can see from the list below, it isn't quite so simple!

For some, the word "character" conjures questions or concerns about whether school-based initiatives might seek to impose certain morals or beliefs onto students. To be clear, our initiatives are non-partisan and non-sectarian and serve only to explore our common humanity.  For thousands of years and around the world, humankind has recognized the value of character.  A more narrow interpretation of character is precisely what marginalizes efforts to empower all people to achieve success by building a strong foundation of character.

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Our Goal for True Success

The problem with "success" as we know it

There are many difficult challenges facing young people today—from anxiety to bullying, cheating, school safety and drug addiction. Compounding these challenges are the societal pressures to attain "me-centered" achievements, such as more money, fame, and popularity.  From a very young age, the expectation for "me-centered" achievement is also ingrained in our educational systems where grades and test scores dominate student assessments. When we prioritize these achievements at the expense of our character and "other-centered" achievements, our lives become unbalanced, and ultimately "true success" is often elusive.

"True success" is what we need

 True success in life requires a balance between both "me-centered" and "other-centered" achievements.  These "other-centered" achievements include our role as a parent, a friend, a colleague, or member of our local, state, and national communities. In recent years ​educators, policymakers, scholars, scientists and foundations are increasing recommending "other-centered" programs for schools.  New frameworks have emerged to help establish new standards and guidelines.  Of course, with more frameworks, come more programs to evaluate! CITRS is poised to collaborate with school leaders to design comprehensive programs that meet these new standards to create a sustainable, character-centered school culture.  It's a lot to figure out, but we are here to help.

True Success is Achieved When There is a Balance Between
​"Me-Centered" and "Other-Centered" Achievements

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Our Work Beyond the School Day

While most of our work centers on schools, CITRS also works to bring character initiatives to sports programs, including at the collegiate level, and out of school programs for all ages.


CITRS provides direct service to Legacy’s leadership and executive teams in a strengths-based management training, and train-the-trainer character education model for their center and community school-based Out of School Time (OST) programs. Legacy provides a safe, nurturing and inclusive environment for more than 3,500 children a year, as they fulfill their mission to “prepare youth for success through our inclusive community, using tennis, education and character programming.” In 2015, Legacy was recognized by the United States Tennis Association as its National Junior Tennis and Learning chapter of the year, distinguishing it from among more than 500 community based tennis organizations in the nation.

​CITRS collaborates with the Penn Athletics Wharton Leadership Academy (PAWLA) to integrate character development into everything it does, fulfilling the athletic department's primary core value of "Character First". CITRS leads annual presentations, workshops, and mentoring sessions with student athletes through the year. The specialized curriculum allows student-athletes to explore their leadership styles, as well as focus on character development, personal values, and effective communication.