Fuller’s Thrive Center Receives Grant from John Templeton Foundation for $2.6M


The Thrive Center at Fuller Theological Seminary has received a $2.6 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation for a three-year scientific study of virtues in adolescents across diverse environments. Associate professor of psychology Sarah Schnitker and associate professor of human development Benjamin Houltberg are the principal investigators of “Character Strength Interventions in Adolescents: Engaging Scholars and Practitioners to Promote Virtue Development.”

“There is a noted gap between knowledge gained from psychological science and the practices used by youth workers, which is especially profound in the area of virtue development. This project aims to fill the gap,” Houltberg said. The goal of this project is to fill the gap by recruiting and gathering scholar-practitioner teams to create best practices for “good” science that will better inform efforts aimed at growing virtue among youth. The major areas of focus are activities that promote the virtues of love, gratitude, hope, patience, generosity, joy, wisdom, and forgiveness. In order to make these activities relevant, Houltberg and Schnitker will mobilize scholar-practitioner teams to develop, test, and plan implementation for virtue-building programs that will be delivered to youth in technology and new media products and in the context of both secular and religious youth-serving organizations. This will inform the creation of best practices for good science to equip those who care for youth to promote the character and virtues that help youth thrive.

“We are so grateful to the John Templeton Foundation for enabling the Thrive Center to engage these teams toward the aim of building interventions and tools that change the lives of young people through the formation of character strengths,” adds Schnitker.

“This is a bold and ambitious plan led by two extraordinary scholars,” says Theresa Kiene, Executive Director of the Thrive Center. “On behalf of our students, faculty, and all who will benefit from their work now and in the future, I extend my warmest appreciation to Drs. Schnitker and Houltberg and to the John Templeton Foundation.”


About The Thrive Center

The Thrive Center was established in 2011 with a dual mission to study human thriving and to translate that research into tangible resources. Our team is motivated not just by the pursuit of knowledge about thriving, but also the desire to inspire, educate, and equip those who care for youth. For more information, visit

About the John Templeton Foundation

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the deepest and most perplexing questions facing humankind. The Foundation supports research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and emergence to creativity, forgiveness, and free will. It encourages civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians, as well as between such experts and the public at large. In all cases, the Foundation's goal is the same: to spur curiosity and accelerate discovery.

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