Templeton World Charity Foundation is pleased to announce a new funding opportunity through its Global Innovations for Character Development (GICD) initiative. The Foundation is offering up to 4 awards of $1M USD for the development and testing of interventions which aim to improve health outcomes through the promotion of character strengths. Researchers from around the world are invited to submit their proposal ideas below. 

Submit your idea here

About the Global Innovations for Character Development initiative

Launched in 2018, the Global Innovations for Character Development initiative seeks to establish character development as a lever for social change, increased prosperity, and overall human flourishing.It envisions a world in which character strengths are recognized for their critical role in improving the lives of individuals and communities. This Request for Ideas is the third funding opportunity under the GICD initiative. 

With grant-funded projects around the globe, GICD is a first-of-its-kind initiative to promote character strengths worldwide. Character strengths are learned and learnable attributes, virtues, skills, habits, or capabilities that enable individuals to lead better lives. Examples include compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, honesty, humility, and kindness. Some Global Innovations for Character Development projects also seek to promote local character strengths, such as the East African concept Utu (shared humanity, humanness). More information on the GICD program and funded projects can be found here.

The Challenge

Over the past century, there have been substantial improvements in health outcomes on a global scale, as reflected by universal reductions in maternal and child mortality and increases overall life expectancy. These achievements have been made possible through robust investments in scientific and technological innovations such as improved water and sanitation measures, vaccinations and anti-microbial medications. Likewise, public acceptance of disease control as a possibility and collective responsibility and the subsequent establishment of public health organizations and agencies to guide and deploy these interventions (e.g. the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control, GAVI - the Vaccine Alliance), have been equally transformative.

Despite these accomplishments, significant challenges remain. Improvements in health outcomes are incomplete and unequally distributed across age, gender, class, race and geography, with Low and Middle Income Countries significantly trailing wealthier countries. Advances in treatment options for diseases like HIV/AIDS or TB, combined with the proliferation of non-communicable diseases (including mental and neurological disorders), have generated a swath of new challenges when it comes to management of chronic conditions, pain and disability. Meanwhile, widespread misinformation, mistrust in health institutions, and political polarization are hampering the uptake of health services (e.g. vaccine hesitancy), and threatening to derail some of the collaborative scientific and political processes that made the global health gains of the 20th century possible.

The Opportunity

Templeton World Charity Foundation believes that character strengths such as compassion, generosity, and gratitude (among others) have a critical role to play, alongside ongoing scientific and technological innovation, in addressing global health challenges. For example, to encourage uptake of services among “last mile” populations means equipping health care workers to better understand and connect with hard to reach communities. Likewise, ongoing vaccine hesitancy necessitates a better understanding of how to promote trust in public health institutions and cultivate truth-seeking behaviours among the general population.

To this end, Templeton World Charity Foundation is inviting proposals for character development interventions which aim to enhance health outcomes. In initiating this small portfolio, the Foundation aims to demonstrate the potential of character-based approaches to overcoming global health challenges and other “wicked problems”, which cannot be resolved through scientific or technological innovation alone.



Award Size & Scope

The Foundation is offering up to four awards of up to $1M USD each for research programs lasting three years (36 months).


This is a multi-stage application process. 

  • Stage 1: Idea Submission - This stage is now closed. Shortlisted applicants will be contacted directly.
  • Stage 2: Full Proposal Submission - A maximum of ten ideas will be chosen for further development and applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal to Templeton World Charity Foundation. Full proposals will be submitted for Expert Review. 
  • Stage 3: Final Submission - On the basis of Expert Review, a maximum of four proposals will be shortlisted for funding. Shortlisted candidates will have an opportunity to update and revise their proposals prior to final submission.
  • Stage 4: Decisioning - The final funding decision will be made by the TWCF Grants and Programs Committee.



  • Idea Submission Deadline - February 1, 2021 
  • Full Proposal Invitation & Guidance Issued - February 8, 2021
  • Full Proposal Submission Deadline - March 29, 2021 
  • Expert Review - April 1-22, 2021
  • Notification of Shortlisted Candidates -  May 7, 2021
  • Final Proposal Submission Deadline - May 21, 2021 
  • TWCF Decision Date - July 11, 2021
  • Project Start Date - October 1, 2021

Eligibility Criteria

  • Low and Middle Income Country focus.  In alignment with the aims of the Global Innovations for Character Development program, this call for proposals is for projects implemented in Low and Middle Income Countries and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. A full list of eligible jurisdictions is included here. The Project Director or Co-Project Director must be based at an institution in an eligible country.
  • Host Institution TWCF welcomes applications from universities, research institutions, non-government organizations and private entities. The institution must be able to hold and administer a research grant. TWCF is not able to enter into agreements with institutions in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Crimea or Syria.

Criteria for Success

Proposal ideas & full submissions which meet the eligibility criteria will be evaluated on the basis of alignment with the goals of the RFI, potential for impact, methodology, and team capacity. Successful proposals are expected to include the following components:


A strong conceptual framework, which:

  • Reflects a solid understanding of the theoretical basis for character development and/or related fields (e.g. positive psychology, positive youth development etc).
  • Clearly identifies a relevant health challenge and why character strength(s) are vital to overcoming this challenge.  
  • Discusses how the proposed intervention builds upon or differs from existing approaches.


  • Clearly identified and measurable individual character strength(s). TWCF defines character strengths as learned and learnable attributes, virtues, skills, habits, or capabilities that enable individuals to lead better lives. 
  • Clearly identified and measurable health outcomes. 
  • Diverse research outputs. Projects funded under this initiative are expected to result in research articles targeting high impact scientific journals, as well as non-academic outputs such as policy briefs targeting decision makers and thought leaders, or opinion pieces (e.g. op-eds) aimed at the wider public. 


  • Appropriate study design and evaluation methodology. The study design and methodology chosen should suit the research question and stage of intervention development/testing. 
  • Measurement tools and approaches that are appropriate to, adapted for and/or validated in the local context. 


  • Multi-disciplinary teams. Projects teams should demonstrate relevant academic, implementation and evaluation expertise.

Additional Expectations

  • Open access commitment.  Successful applicants must adhere to the principles of open access and TWCF’s open access policy
  • Commitment to community engagement. Successful applicants should be willing to join and engage with a community of TWCF grantees, including via participation in webinars and attendance at in person meetings or events (when feasible). 

Please direct any questions to character@templetonworldcharity.org.