About Character Lab

Anchor For Section: What is Character Lab's mission?

What is Character Lab’s mission?

Character Lab advances scientific insights that help kids thrive. By connecting researchers with educators, Character Lab seeks to create greater knowledge about the conditions that lead to social, emotional, academic, and physical well-being for young people throughout the country.

Anchor For Section: Why was Character Lab created?

Why was Character Lab created?

Character Lab was founded in 2013 by a scientist and two educators: Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor at the University of Pennsylvania; Dave Levin, co-founder of KIPP public charter schools; and Dominic Randolph, Head of School at Riverdale Country School. 


Dave and Dominic met Angela on a field trip. The two educators were visiting leading researchers around the world, eager to find scientific insights that might help young people lead lives that were good for others as well as themselves. These conversations revealed a problem: because research involving kids and educators was so much more time-consuming and expensive than research with adults, the pace of scientific discovery was frustratingly slow. What’s more, insights that had been uncovered by scientists remained hidden from educators and parents, buried in academic articles filled with technical jargon. 


Together, Dave, Dominic, and Angela agreed that a bridge was needed to connect educators and research scientists. That bridge is Character Lab.


Anchor For Section: What do you mean by "character"?

What is “character”?

Character Lab defines character as the intentions and actions that benefit both the individual and others.


Research suggests that character encompasses a multitude of strengths that can be organized into three dimensions: strengths of heart (interpersonal), like gratitude, enable harmonious relationships with other people; strengths of will (intrapersonal), like grit and self-control, enable achievement; and strengths of mind (intellectual), like curiosity, enable independent thinking. 


Character Lab uses the term "character" where other organizations we support and partner with might use terms like social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies, whole child, or life skills.

icons depicting strengths of heart, mind, and will: a brain, a heart, and a check box.
Anchor For Section: Does participating in Character Lab require use of curriculum?

Does participating in Character Lab require use of curriculum?

No, Character Lab does not require or create curricula.


Schools use the representative data from the Thriving Index to help inform decision-making at a school and district level that is tailored to each school’s climate. They can use resources like Tips and Playbooks to make decisions that work for their context.