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November 17, 2020

WGU Receives $4.8M Grant to Develop and Lead Character Education Curriculum

Character Education for a Better Society project will fund program to help educators teach character in schools nationwide

SALT LAKE CITY – Western Governors University (WGU) today announced that the university will prepare and support teachers and education leaders to build schools and classrooms of character nationwide with help from The Kern Family Foundation. The university received a $4.8 million grant to integrate character education into two graduate degree programs within WGU’s Teachers College and create the Character Education Profession Learning Program (CEPL), to be housed in the Center for Professional Learning at the Teachers College. 

“We are excited to announce our partnership with The Kern Family Foundation and are eager to join the initiative to prepare and support teachers and leaders in building and strengthening classrooms and schools of character across the nation. Character education is essential and vital content that should be present in each and every classroom across the nation,” said Annalisa Holcombe, President of WGU Advancement, the fundraising arm of the university. “The opportunity presented to WGU by the Foundation offers a stellar professional learning program for educators in a virtual environment.”

As part of the Character Education for a Better Society (CEBS) project’s objectives, the professional learning program will provide a robust curriculum around character education. The program will be designed to train teachers and educational leaders on character and moral development and formation, and how to implement character development content in their own classrooms and schools. 

With a focus on bringing character education programming to PK–12 classrooms, the program offers two tracks: the CEPL-T program for teachers and the CEPL-E program for educational leaders like principals. Each program includes microcredentials that, upon completion, will lead to certification in character education to illustrate content mastery. The professional learning program will utilize WGU’s online framework and competency-based education model to deliver instruction to teachers and educational leaders across the nation. WGU’s education model ensures that the character education and training will be accessible and affordable. 

In addition, the character education content and assessments will be embedded into WGU’s current Master of Science in Educational Leadership (MSEDL) and Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction (MSCIN) degree programs. Current and future students in these degree programs will be able to obtain—in addition to their master’s degrees—the same microcredentials and certifications as students in the CEPL-T and CEPL-E programs.   

“The last several months have magnified disparities teachers face in PK–12 education, and WGU is prepared to assist by offering a viable way forward in the area of character education,” Holcombe said. 

The program will include the creation of an online community of educators to share best practices and tips around character development in school systems. The online community will become a resource for professional learning and enhancing the continued adoption and integration of character education curriculum in schools nationwide. 

 “We are excited to partner with WGU on this project,” said Beth Purvis, Senior Program Director at The Kern Family Foundation. “It offers a tremendous opportunity to empower teachers and school leaders with the character knowledge, practice, and support to amplify their impact on the moral formation and character development of the rising generation of Americans nationwide.” 

“We are extremely thankful to the Kern Family Foundation for their generous funding of our CEBS project to prepare and support P-12 educators in creating schools of character that cultivate, value and celebrate the development and practice of character. We are very excited about the large-scale impact this project will have on students, families and communities across the country,” said Christina Dehler, Associate Dean and Director of Academic Programs in Teachers College and Principal Investigator on the grant.

The professional learning programs will be open for enrollment in spring 2021. 

About WGU Advancement.

WGU Advancement is a nonprofit fundraising foundation created by Western Governors University to expand access to and accelerate innovation in education. A 501(c)(3) organization, Advancement's focus is on complementing and enhancing the WGU vision to reinvigorate the promise of higher education. In addition to scholarships and other initiatives aimed at increasing access, Advancement raises funds to support development of innovative programs, research, and technologies that will improve educational quality and student outcomes. Learn more at

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