A partnership that changed everything

(2 minute read)
It’s not everyday that character-development experts from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, choose you for a prestigious grant and two-year partnership. But in 2018, that’s exactly what happened to us, and we’ve spoken a lot about it since then (wouldn’t you?). That’s because it has helped us fundamentally develop the way we work with children and their families.

We’re bringing it up one last time (no promises) because we’ve just completed the final reporting of our two-year programme, and there are some awesome things to share. We were able to plan, trial and improve new ways of working with parents and whole families, rather than only with young people, which we have now fully integrated into our organisational strategy.

Luke and Hana took a trip to the Greater Good Science Center in San Francisco in 2018 to meet the other grantees and present our plans for the years ahead!

Creating programmes that engage parents in their children’s character growth journey ensures that the impact of a Citywise programme will have ripple effects throughout a child’s life. Partnering with parents as they raise caring, confident children means that entire families reap the benefits too!

Character for the whole family

  • When information, resources and activities are made available, parents want to engage positively with the research-based ideas around developing their child’s character.
  • We found that the most effective activities to help parents increase in knowledge, motivation and confidence were ones for the whole family, not just parents and children independent of each other.

The science of character development told us that until we engaged directly with the families of these children, our work could only achieve so much

This new model has proven essential when Covid-19 began to cause widespread lockdown, anxiety and uncertainty. Parents have welcomed Citywise into their homes through new online groups and opportunities to connect with their mentors.

Since March 2020 we have shared lots of fun activity videos with families, and have kept Royal Mail busy by sending home over 600 parcels! These have been jam-packed with games, books, crafts, activities and treats to support children’s wellbeing and bring families together. These parcels also included curriculum resources such as our Wisebooks, flashcards and journals, which parents have been able to use with their children and engage in our curriculum more than ever before.

We are regularly in touch with families through Whatsapp, giving updates about their child’s progress and sharing extra activities or helpful blog posts about how they can support their child’s character growth at home. We now have a whole section on our blog where any parent, carer or teacher can access character-boosting activities and resources!

We’ve caught the researching bug!

Hana, our Glasgow Director, is now into the second year of her PhD at the University of Glasgow! Her research into Character Education uses our school programmes and volunteer experiences to explore mentoring as a means of facilitating character growth in young people.

Through diary studies, interviews and focus groups, Hana is investigating how mentoring with a character-focused curriculum in the context of a broader relational setting contributes to children’s positive development, as well as the development of volunteers!

This research is so valuable to help us ensure that our programmes continue to make a deep and meaningful impact on the lives of children. We’re so excited for the years ahead and all we’ll be able to learn and implement!

(Left) Hana, our Glasgow Director, on a Panel for the Greater Good Science Center Convening sharing to 90+ attendees about the mission shift we have undertaken thanks to a partnership with GGSC. (Right) A session where parents were invited into a school programme to hear all about their child’s progress and meet their mentor.