Kern Family Foundation awards $2.27 million grant to enhance character education in schools

June 07, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

Phoenix, AZ (June 7, 2022) – Grand Canyon University has received a three-year $2.27 million grant from the Kern Family Foundation to enhance character formation in K-12 schools across the country.

The grant will establish the Canyon Center for Character Education – a virtual center to help school leaders develop practical wisdom and learn to embed character education and virtue development in K-12 schools.

“There is no better time than now to bring virtues like love, service, compassion and grace to school principals, teachers and students in schools around the country,” said Dr. Meredith Critchfield, Dean of GCU’s College of Education (COE). “As the world moves in different directions, it’s critical that we re-focus our efforts on building learning environments that support human flourishing. We are grateful to the Kern Family Foundation for trusting us and believing in our ability to launch the Canyon Center for Character Education.”

The funding will also support curricular work that will be embedded into new and existing GCU master’s programs in school leadership and specialty tracks that include Christian leadership and virtue-driven educational entrepreneurship. Character-building content will be accessible on GCU’s existing Professional Learning Network – a virtual platform for current students and alumni that will include resources, videos, discussion threads and learning modules. Funding will also create scholarship opportunities for partnerships with school districts.  

“American parents say that the formation of strong character is their highest aspiration for their children,” said Kern Family Foundation President James Rahn. “Ninety percent of Americans say our democracy is only as strong as the virtue of its citizens. Thus, the Kern Family Foundation is pleased to be investing in the launch of the Canyon Center for Character Education. We are impressed with Dean Critchfield’s bold vision for the Center and believe it will have a transformational impact on the lives of educators, children and communities across America.”

GCU’s commitment to putting character first reaches beyond COE students and faculty. It is a University-wide effort that includes partner schools. Building character formation into education programs reflects the University’s mission to equip students not only academically but by developing the entire person.

This grant is a continuation of the partnership between the Kern Family Foundation and GCU’s College of Education, which hosted the day long “Building Virtues Conference: Character Education in a Changing World” in December 2021. Funding provided free admittance to GCU faculty, staff, students and K-12 partners into the conference, which featured a panel of renowned national speakers and research on supporting virtue development within the community.


About Grand Canyon University:  Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949 and is Arizona’s premier private Christian university. GCU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers nearly 300 academic programs, emphases and certificates for both traditional undergraduate students and working professionals. The University’s curriculum emphasizes interaction with classmates, both in-person and online, and individual attention from instructors while fusing academic rigor with Christian values to help students find their purpose and become skilled, caring professionals. For more information, visit

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