Building the local case for Character Development in high conflict settings of the Northern Triangle in Central America
Citizens of Central America’s Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) face overwhelming challenges. Poverty and extreme violence hinder access to quality education and other necessities. But even in these marginalized communities lies remarkable resilience and vast human potential.
Despite considerable data and research on character in developed countries, there is little research on character strengths in Central American countries with high levels of violence and trauma. Because of its profound transformative potential, character development is vital in these adverse contexts, particularly for youths. Led by the Salvadoran NGO Glasswing, this project aims to generate local evidence of the impact character development has on youth in high-risk environments. The team will conduct a youth-informed revision to Glasswing’s extracurricular club curricula and programming that integrates character development learning strategies.
During a formative research phase, youths (ages 12-16) will identify character strengths they consider most important for their circumstances. As part of a randomized control trial, the team will then implement the new curricula in 8 of the 16 schools. They will evaluate the impact of the curricula on the chosen character strengths, as well as measures of well-being and academic performance. By generating evidence around high-impact interventions that include character development, the team aims to leverage partnerships with Ministries of Education to replicate, scale, and impact public education policy.