Our Program would not be possible without the generous support of individuals and organizations who demonstrate their commitment to character through time, talent, and treasure. Here are the groups and individuals who have made contributions to our Program.

Lilly Endowment Inc.

In 2019, the Program received a $3.4 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., that significantly expanded its capacity to teach, mentor, and guide students at Wake
Forest, and to provide a model for other colleges and universities. That three-year grant supported the existing Program and funds new staff members, courses
in a variety of disciplines, workshops for students and faculty, retreats, guest lectures, and efforts to advance research and assessment. In 2023, Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded the Program an additional $30.7 million to extend the Program’s work at Wake Forest, and to create the Educating Character Initiative, which will create a national higher education network devoted to educating character.

Kern Family Foundation

The Kern Family Foundation has provided a grant of $8.6 million to support the integration of character development opportunities throughout the professional
schools at Wake Forest University, including the School of Medicine, School of Law, and preprofessional programs in the college. Another grant of $700,000
advances the collaborative work of the Department of Engineering and the Program for Leadership and Character by supporting faculty development and course design, funding postdoctoral fellows and graduate research assistants, and providing programmatic and curricular support to broaden the scope of character education in engineering.

The Kern Family Foundation has also supported three new postdoctoral fellows in character education and supported the Program’s participation in the Kern Partners in Character Education and Leadership Network Improvement Community, which has enabled Program faculty and staff to share their research and engage other scholars and practitioners of character education.


Truist has endowed four Leadership and Character Scholarships to support talented students with significant financial need in each class. In addition, the Truist Leadership Institute has partnered with our Program to provide generous programmatic support to both our students and staff.

John Templeton Foundation

The John Templeton Foundation made a $1.68 million grant to advance research on the impact of exemplars on character formation. Led by Eranda Jayawickreme
and Michael Lamb, the three-year grant funded five international teams, including two led by Jayawickreme and Lamb at Wake Forest, that pursued interdisciplinary research on exemplars from the perspectives of education, law, literature, philosophy, psychology, theology, and the arts, with the aim of developing effective interventions to promote character. Together, the research teams have produced almost 30 publications, with more to come.

Circle of Support

The following individuals and organizations made contributions through June 30, 2022, to support our work shaping leaders of character: