Templeton Foundation Awards $2.4 Million for Virtue-Based Program

Templeton Foundation Awards $2.4 Million for Virtue-Based Program

The John Templeton Foundation has announced a grant of $2.4 million to the University of Missouri-St. Louis in support of a program aimed at helping future educational leaders develop a set of core virtues and shape those of the institutions they will lead.

Under the leadership of UM professors Melinda Bier and Marvin Berkowitz, the program will build on the efforts of the Berkowitz-headed Leadership Academy in Character Education, which was founded in 1998 to transform the way school leaders think about and develop student character and academic and social skills. To date, LACE has worked with more than eight hundred education leaders in Illinois and Missouri.

Bier and Berkowitz will use the grant to adapt the Cultivating Virtues in Leadership (CViL) curriculum, an individual leader-focused initiative launched in 2017 with funding from the Templeton Foundation. Comprising eight three-hour modules, the curriculum is designed to cultivate virtues such as purpose, humility, gratitude, forgiveness, courage, empowerment, and foresight; engage participants in practicing servant leadership; and make the development of servant leaders a core value at the schools they lead.

By the end of 2019, the curriculum is expected to be rolled out to an initial cohort of sixty school leaders in the St. Louis area. The rollout will be monitored with tools developed by project partner Jennifer Urban and a team at Montclair State University in New Jersey. The grant also will enable Bier and Berkowitz to make the curriculum, along with a detailed replication guidebook, available for wider use after the work of the initial cohort is completed.

"Many educators first enter their profession out of a strong sense of purpose and a desire to serve their students, but until recently almost no formal school leadership development programs were centered on developing and enhancing such virtues," said Sarah Clement, director of character virtue development at the Templeton Foundation. "Mindy Bier and Marvin Berkowitz are uniquely positioned to provide a rigorous and replicable way of helping educators leverage those values as they develop as leaders."