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Dear Character.org Family,

We hope this message finds you all in great spirits.

Each year, at our annual Forum we look forward to connecting or reconnecting with each of you. We also love learning how you have been inspired by our keynote speakers (like Steve Hartman from CBS), our 60+ breakout sessions, and celebrating with us the educators who have worked tirelessly to help their school achieve National School of Character recognition.

Unfortunately, a few logistical challenges have made it impractical for us to hold the Forum in 2024.  

However, let there be no room for dismay! We are already in the process of planning an exceptional in-person Character.org Forum in 2025. We will announce the date and location very soon, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, please keep the spirit of the Forum in your heart. We remain humbled and grateful for your commitment to encourage young people of all ages to understand, care about, and practice the core values and character strengths that will enable them to flourish in school, relationships, the workplace and as citizens. 

We can’t wait to see you during our Forum in 2025. 

Respectfully yours,


Dr. Arthur Schwartz
President
On behalf of the Board and Staff of Character.org

Highlights From Our 2023 Forum

2023 Keynote Speakers

Steve Hartman

Character Can Change The World

The Power of Real-Life Stories to Help Students Practice Kindness and Gratitude

During the pandemic, Steve Hartman from the iconic CBS News series “On The Road” began a new series called “Kindness 101.” Together with his children, Steve shares stories around character-inspired themes and how ordinary people are doing extraordinary acts and changing lives. Steve will give a keynote at our Forum on how to join thousands of teachers around the country who are using his videos to inspire students to build connections, and how through a ripple effect, create a more caring and compassionate world.

Dr. Michele Borba

Character: The Science-Backed Solution to Our Mental Health Crisis

Tools and strategies to improve well-being

Our young people are experiencing a mental health crisis due to a variety of factors. In her keynote, renowned psychologist Dr. Michele Borba will  share the science-based tools and strategies educators and families can use to equip young people with the resiliency and character strengths that all of us need during the inevitable storms of life. 

Dr. Maurice Elias

Cracking The Intrinsic Motivation Code

5 Insights To Help Students Discover Their Moral Compass

Dr. Elias will explore how to shape positive student behaviors by fostering their sense of purpose. He will also discuss the evidence-informed approaches and practices that encourage students to set goals for themselves, to think about their own thinking, as well as tools to help students assess and strengthen their own character. This highly-interactive keynote will draw on many of the key indicators highlighted in Principle 7 of our 11 Principles Framework for Schools

Breakout Sessions

Together we learned about peer mentoring, service learning, staff retention and morale, parent engagement, student leadership, sports, restorative practices, and much more. Check out some highlights in the short clips below

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Houston Kraft

PRACTICAL KINDNESS – Former Character.org keynote speaker and author of Deep Kindness, Houston Kraft will lead you through a series of practical exercises designed to increase empathy and create more consistent compassion that you can take back into any classroom or staff meeting. Leave with research-backed activity ideas and easy-to-implement educator tools to support your staff development.

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Scarlett Lewis

The Choosing Love Mindset: Thriving, not just surviving – Former Character.org keynote speaker, Scarlett Lewis will empower you to thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally. Participants will discover the importance of essential life skills taught through the Choose Love Movement’s no cost, comprehensive, lifespan, next generation Character Social Emotional Development programs.

Joe Beckman

JUST LOOK UP: 5 Life-Saving Phrases Every Human Needs to Hear – Combining humor, authenticity, heart, and soul, international speaker Joe Beckman shares five specific phrases he believes all humans need to hear…especially today. The result is a refreshing, authentic, and down-to-earth approach to finding self-worth (Love YOU), resilience (Push Through), confidence (Fail On), joy (Yeah Toast!), and maybe most importantly, human connection (Just Look Up).

Antonio Cooper

USING CORE VALUES TO ADDRESS RACE, ETHNIC, AND CULTURAL GAPS IN SCHOOL CLIMATEAny difficulty addressing cultural differences in your building? Any problems connecting with diverse backgrounds? Does your data show misalignments within your populations? If so, what is your plan to help navigate these issues? These questions, and more, will be addressed during this session that gives educators tips and strategies to address race, ethnic, and cultural gaps among students and staff. Participants will leave with a blueprint for leading difficult conversations and move forward together.

Jim Clark, President of Boys and Girls Clubs of America received our John Winthrop Wright “Ethics in Action” Award!

Phil Brown, co-founder of the New Jersey Alliance for Social, Emotional, and Character Development (NJASECD), received our “Sandy Award” for lifetime achievement in character education! 

2023 Forum Partners

Character.org is honored that the Kern Family Foundation is our 2023 Forum Sponsor.