Baylor University Receives $2.6 Million Grant from the John Templeton Foundation - $1.27 Million Designated for Sub-Award Opportunities

January 18, 2019
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Contact: Whitney Richter, Director of Marketing and Communications, Office of the Vice Provost for Research, 254-710-7539

WACO, Texas (January 15, 2019) - The John Templeton Foundation has awarded a $2.6 million grant to Dr. Sarah Schnitker, associate professor of psychology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences, and co-principal investigator Dr. Benjamin Houltberg, 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 (e.g., athletic teams, religious organizations, youth community centers, 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," said Schnitker. "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 College of Arts & Sciences dean Dr. Lee Nordt. "Such resources bring prestige to our faculty, our students, and to the reputation of our institution."

Dr. Sarah Schnitker

Primary Investigator

Dr. Sarah Schnitker

Associate Professor of Psychology

Baylor University

Dr. Benjamin Houltberg


Dr. Benjamin Houltberg

Director of Research

USC Performance Science Institute

Marshall School of Business

"Sarah's recent funding adds significantly to ongoing and past support for research at Baylor from the John Templeton Foundation," said Dr. Kevin Chambliss, interim vice provost for research. "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 will also 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 (e.g., YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram). The deadline for applications is June 1, 2019.