Above / During North Central College’s Holiday Open House in the crowded lobby of the Wentz Concert Hall after President Troy Hammond announced news of the largest private grant in the institution’s history, Kathleen King added that the grant “will impact from both the top and bottom, in terms of school culture.”

President Troy Hammond

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (Dec. 6, 2018)— North Central College has been awarded a $3.2 million grant—the largest private grant in the institution’s 157-year history—from the Kern Family Foundation to develop principals and teachers who foster “cultures of character” in their schools. A framework for building cultures of character in schools will be infused in the College’s master of education in educational leadership degree with eligibility for principal endorsement and through the creation of a Character Education Institute—anchored by North Central’s long-established campus wide Leadership, Ethics and Values (LEV) program and the recently launched Center for Social Impact (CSI).

The funding supports the College’s vision to become a regional and national model of educational leader
preparation by providing distinctive classroom, experiential learning and professional development
opportunities.

Kathy Black, assistant professor of education and coordinator of the master of education degree, said that developing character is true to the College’s mission and the grant paves the way for these programs to reach a broader population.

Within its multi-faceted mission, the Kern Family Foundation seeks to find ways to impact character education in schools across urban, suburban and rural areas.

“The Kern Family Foundation and North Central share a special synergy; we both have a long-standing and deep commitment to cultivating leaders of character,” said Black. “Through this partnership, we will have the opportunity to prepare school leaders who prioritize student character as well as academics.”

Over the next four and a half years, the grant will address the shortage of diversity in administrative ranks by supporting partial tuition scholarships for select underrepresented candidates or educators serving high-needs schools. A key component of the grant is funding fellowships for select master’s candidates to spend a semester-long, full immersion internship with a principal-mentor.

Kathleen King

“The grant will impact from both the top and bottom, in terms of school culture,” said Kathleen King, assistant professor of education and education graduate placement coordinator. “The principal leadership piece impacts from the top down and the classroom teachers impact from the bottom up. It is best practice to see movement in both directions and our programming will offer that.”

“This grant from the Kern Family Foundation recognizes the College’s historic commitment to leadership, ethics and values and the outstanding reputation of our principal preparation curriculum,” said President Troy Hammond. “With this investment, the foundation has shown it has confidence that North Central can make an important and far-reaching impact in creating cultures of character in school districts and communities across Illinois, the Midwest—and perhaps, across the country.”

Another major component of the grant is the Character Education Institute, which will reach current principals, teachers and undergraduate education majors through a Cultures of Character Principal Academy and Character Education Certificate. The Academy will provide coaches for administrators in PK-12 schools who want to achieve school improvement goals through strong school cultures of character. Meanwhile, the Character Education Certificate will enable educators to become scholars of character development and social and emotional learning.

Thomas Cavenagh

“This is an exciting collaboration between LEV and the College’s education department to create a distinct range of opportunities for education students at North Central College,” said Thomas Cavenagh, Schneller Sisters Professor of Leadership, Ethics and Values and Director of Leadership, Ethics and Values. “The LEV program teaches and endeavors to advance a Neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics framework that is well aligned with the philosophy and beliefs of the Kern Family Foundation.”

The College will also build collaboration among scholars, educators, legislators and other stakeholders to further explore the integration of character development initiatives with social- emotional learning standards.

“Through this process, North Central will be a place where people come to learn how to develop social, emotional and ethical competencies,” said King. “We are on the trajectory to become thought leaders in fostering cultures of character.”

The Kern Family Foundation contributes to the ongoing success of the College’s $150 million Brilliant
Future Campaign.

For more information, contact grad@noctrl.edu, call (630) 637-5555 or apply for the degree program.


The Kern Family Foundation since 1999

Established in 1999, the Kern Family Foundation is a prominent, strategic foundation based in Wisconsin
that invests in the rising generation of leaders. The foundation aims to effect systemic change through
partnerships that promote the value of work, developing the formation of good character, increasing
educational achievement and preserving the tradition of private enterprise that enables the United States
to thrive intellectually and economically. Its three program areas are Education and Character; Faith,
Work and Economics; and Entrepreneurial Engineering.

North Central College since 1861 

Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and six graduate programs. With more than 2,900 students, North Central provides a rigorous, student-centered education and fosters a diverse, inclusive and globally engaged community that prepares students for action and leadership in a complex world.

Just 30 minutes from Chicago’s Loop, the campus is located in the Historic District of Naperville, Ill.—rated by Money magazine as among the nation’s “Best Places to Live” and by niche.com as the 2nd “Best Places to Live in Illinois.”

Visit northcentralcollege.edu and discover what it means to Be Central.

Story submitted by Kelly Murphy, Assistant Director, Communication and Public Relations, Office of Marketing and Communications, North Central College. (PN Photos / Note: Kathy Black was unable to attend the open house.)