Baylor University Receives $2.6 Million Grant from the John Templeton Foundation for Character Strength Interventions in Adolescents

January 23, 2019

$1.27 million designated for sub-award opportunities for scholars, practitioners and technology innovators to promote virtue development and improve character strengths in adolescents

OVPR Contact: Whitney Richter, Baylor Office of the Vice Provost for Research, 254-710-7539

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-6275
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WACO, Texas (Jan. 23, 2019) – The John Templeton Foundation has awarded a $2.6 million grant to Sarah Schnitker, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in Baylor University’s College of Arts & Sciences, and co-principal investigator Benjamin Houltberg, Ph.D., director of research at the University of Southern California Performance Science Institute. The grant aims to galvanize widespread scientific development of virtue interventions for adolescents across a diversity of contexts – such as athletic teams, religious organizations, youth community centers and online – that attend to spirituality and transcendent purpose.

“In a time where crises of character are becoming apparent at a national and international scale, we are so excited to see how various teams of scholars, youth practitioners and technology or media developers that we assemble can work together to create scientifically vetted interventions that build character strengths in adolescents,” Schnitker said. “Not only does this generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation allow for excellent scientific research, but it also allows us to make a difference in the lives of real young people.”

“This prominent grant awarded to Dr. Schnitker highlights the importance of her research and her ability to acquire resources from foundations contributing to the grand challenges of society,” said Lee Nordt, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “Such resources bring prestige to our faculty, our students and to the reputation of our institution.”

“Sarah’s recent funding adds significantly to ongoing and past support for research at Baylor from the John Templeton Foundation,” said Kevin Chambliss, Ph.D., interim vice provost for research at Baylor. “This particular grant aligns directly with the signature initiative on Human Flourishing, Ethics and Leadership specified in the University’s academic strategic plan Illuminate and establishes Baylor as a leading voice in both research and practice related to character development in young people.”

The award stipulates that $1.27 million of the grant be designated for multiple sub-award opportunities within two categories: the “Engaging Scholars and Practitioners to Promote Virtue Development Grant” and the “Improving Character Strengths of Adolescents through Technology Innovation Grant.”

Three to five Character Intervention grants will be awarded, ranging from $150,000 to $300,000 to projects focused on interventions targeted to develop one or more virtues, including love, gratitude, hope, patience, generosity, joy, wisdom and forgiveness. The deadline for applications is May 1, 2019.

Three to five Technology Innovation grants also will be awarded, ranging from $60,000 to $80,000. The Technology Innovation Grants will fund innovative technological or new media product development based on applied positive developmental science. Example products include smartphone apps, video games and content for new media regularly frequented by adolescents, such as YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. The deadline for applications is June 1, 2019.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments and seven academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit


The Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) assists faculty members from all academic units in identifying, obtaining and managing the funding needed to support their research and scholarship. Internal ‘seed’ funding, matching grant proposal funding, searchable online funding databases, grant writing seminars, proposal support and travel awards to national funding agencies are only a portion of what is provided by the various units comprising the OVPR. Additionally, the Vice Provost for Research oversees the ethical conduct of research and assists researchers in maintaining compliance with applicable policies, laws and regulations as well as providing support in establishing interdisciplinary / international collaborations and industry partnerships.

The OVPR acts as Baylor’s representative in pursuing partnerships and collaborative agreements with entities outside the university. The office negotiates sponsored research agreements with industry on behalf of faculty and pursues research, technology transfer and the commercialization of technology. The OVPR welcomes the opportunity to discuss collaborative research and scholarship pursuits that can advance the academic mission of Baylor University to achieve R1/T1 status.

The OVPR also manages and operates the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), a three-story, 330,000-square-foot facility focused on interdisciplinary/international research, industry/university collaborations, business incubation/acceleration/commercialization, advanced workforce training and STEM educational research and outreach.

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