Kern Family Foundation awards UMSL $3M grant to develop school leaders with character education focus

The Center for Character and Citizenship within the College of Education received the $3 million grant from the Kern Family Foundation to implement and evaluate a regional program for emerging school leaders. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Developing more K-12 school leaders focused on character education and servant leadership is the goal of The Kern Family Foundation $3 million grant awarded to the Center for Character and Citizenship at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

“It is the hope of KFF that this grant will have a long-term positive effect on student outcomes and that the center’s work will become a model for colleges of education across the country,” Kern Family Foundation Senior Program Director Beth Purvis said.

Housed within UMSL’s College of Education, the center will use the four-year grant to design, implement and evaluate a regional program that amplifies the reach and impact of character education through the professional development of emerging school leaders who UMSL and other local universities educate. Curriculum will fully prepare, mentor and support their efforts to implement character education within area schools.

“This grant will extend our long-time goal of ensuring the next generation of school leaders prioritizes student character as they step into administrative roles,” said Marvin W. Berkowitz, the Center for Character and Citizenship co-director and grant co-investigator.

“Together, we have the opportunity to create schools that foster a holistic approach and offer children a comprehensive education that values their character as much as their academics,” added Melinda Bier, the associate director of the center and grant co-investigator.

The grant and program serve as an extension of the rich existing character education leadership base established by the center since its opening in 2005 with the goal of creating stronger learning environments through caring and respect for all students, faculty and staff.

Over the years, the center has instituted paradigm-shifting programs for educators and pre-collegiate students such as the Leadership Academy in Character Education, Youth Empowerment in Action! and Missouri Youth Engaged in Local Government. Its local community partners include CharacterPlus and Circus Harmony.


About The Kern Family Foundation
Established in 1999, The Kern Family Foundation is a prominent, strategic foundation based in Wisconsin that invests in the rising generation of leaders. The foundation aims to effect systemic change through partnerships that promote the value of work, developing the formation of good character, increasing educational achievement and preserving the tradition of private enterprise that enables the United States to thrive intellectually and economically. Its three program areas are Education and Character; Faith, Work and Economics; and Entrepreneurial Engineering.

About UMSL College of Education
UMSL College of Education is one of the largest providers of Missouri’s next educators and is consistently recognized for its excellence in teacher preparation. Its undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs develop culturally competent, dedicated and highly trained teachers for a variety of traditional and non-traditional educational settings. The college also prepares administrators, counselors, school psychologists, behavior analysts, educational scholars and entrepreneurs. Its innovative Studio School model – which has the college partnering with more than 30 local schools – places future teachers in a variety of classroom environments for extensive learning periods that enrich their teaching while strengthening the St. Louis region as a whole.

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