What is The Positivity Project (P2)?

The Positivity Project is designed to empower students to build positive relationships — and understand, appreciate, and exemplify character strengths in themselves and others. We accomplish this by partnering with PreK-12 schools and equipping educators with the resources, strategy, and training to teach positive psychology’s 24 character strengths and the Other People Mindset.

Who can benefit from The Positivity Project?

P2 is designed for students, educators, and school communities. It benefits students by enhancing their character and relationship development, supports teachers in creating positive classroom environments, and fosters a positive school culture. We also include P2 for Families (in English and Spanish) to bring the learning beyond the school walls.

How is The Positivity Project implemented in schools?

The Positivity Project (P2) is implemented through daily lessons focusing on character strengths and the Other People Mindset. These lessons include discussions, videos, activities, and reflections designed to be integrated into the existing school curriculum. Learn more about how P2 works here.


What’s the meaning behind the previous motto #OtherPeopleMatter?

#PositivityInAction is our motto, hashtag, and the spirit of the movement we are building. #PositivityInAction is any time someone is building a positive relationship or tapping into a character strength to become their best self.

However, our previous motto and hashtag was #OtherPeopleMatter — and you may still see this on some t-shirts, banners, or Positivity Project social media posts. This phrase originated with Dr. Chris Peterson, one of the founders of positive psychology and Mike Erwin’s mentor and advisor in graduate school. Other People Matter was Chris’ thesis resulting from his decades of research.

As Chris wrote in 2008, he would often begin lectures by stating, “I can sum up positive psychology in just three words — Other People Matter. Period. Anything that builds relationships between and among people is going to make you happy.” Chris passed away suddenly in October 2012, and we are proud to carry on his legacy through the research on character and relationships that he led for over a decade.

Please see below for a video of Chris and Mike explaining Other People Matter.

Who was Dr. Chris Peterson?

Dr. Chris Peterson was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan and Co-Director of the Michigan Positive Psychology Center. In 2010, he was awarded the university’s Golden Apple Award, given annually to one professor who “treats each lecture as if it were his last.” Chris was one of the founders and leading figures in positive psychology — and was among the 100 most widely cited psychologists in the world. He served as research director of the Values in Action (VIA) project, which described, classified, and measured character strengths. His VIA Survey of Signature Strengths has been taken by more than a million people throughout the globe.

Chris authored A Primer in Positive Psychology and Pursuing the Good Life, and co-authored Character Strengths and Virtues, which sits at the foundation of what P2 Partner Schools teach. He also wrote a column for Psychology Today called “The Good Life.” His final article, “Awesome: E Pluribus Unum,” was published four days before his death, and its last two sentences exemplify Chris’ belief that Other People Matter. He wrote: “We are all the same, and each of us is unique, certainly in death but also in life. May we all stop and notice.”

You can learn more about Chris and his work by reading his Psychology Today column, purchasing his books, and watching the videos below.

What’s the meaning behind the #PositivityShield?

The #PositivityShield, our logo, is the plus sign (for Positivity) that forms into the letter P (for Project), as in The Positivity Project or the P2. It was created by our design team, Rule29.

What is with the color green? Our school colors are different. Do we have to wear green #PositivityShield shirts?

We chose the color green to serve as the base color for The Positivity Project because it represents hope, optimism, and endurance. The movement focused on character and relationships, that we’re building together, is happening nationwide. We know that schools are proud of their own colors and logo — and to support that we’ve worked with our gear partners for schools to design their own Positivity Project t-shirts. Click here to develop your own School Spirit Store or design your own custom t-shirt.

When and where are trainings?

All of our in-person trainings are listed on our website. If possible, it’s great to send a principal, counselor, and 3 teachers to an in-person training. However, attending in-person training is not mandatory. And, we have an outstanding online P2 100 Initial Implementation Training Video that empowers each Partner School to lead a staff-wide 3-hour professional development. We encourage all Partner Schools — both new and returning — to leverage this great tool to help all staff members understand the why, what, and how of effective P2 implementation.

What types of schools does The Positivity Project partner with?

We work with public, private, charter, and home schools in urban, rural, and suburban areas. We started in the fall of 2015 with one Partner School in Syracuse, NY. Since then, we’ve grown to over 800 Partner Schools serving more than 400,000 students.

Is content different for different grade levels?

Yes. P2 resources are differentiated by every grade level Pre-K–12. We also have differentiated project-based learning (PBL) lessons for grades K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12.

What are the similarities across different grade levels?

Our model is broadly applicable to all grade levels. The emphasis in any Partner School is the “P2 Trifecta”: the importance of relationships, the #OtherPeopleMindset, and the 24 character strengths vocabulary and concepts.

Do you have research to support your hypotheses?

Yes. The Positivity Project (P2) is a research-based, CASEL-aligned, and ESSA Tier 2 evidence-based intervention. Please see below for further details:

  • Research-based: The Positivity Project (P2) is an organization whose mission is to empower students to build positive relationships and become their best selves (NOTE: Watch the P2 founding story video here). Positive psychology’s 24 character strengths serve as its foundation. Ranging from bravery and perseverance to integrity and gratitude, the character strengths are classified and described in the 800-page book Character Strengths and Virtues. These strengths aren’t about ignoring the negative. Instead, they help us overcome life’s inevitable adversities. For more background, please find information about the research driving our focus on relationships here and our focus on positive psychology’s character strengths here.
  • CASEL-aligned: The Positivity Project lessons and concepts, centered around the five elements of the Other People Mindset and the 24 character strengths, align with the social emotional learning competencies and subtopics as developed by The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, also known as CASEL. Click here to learn more about P2’s CASEL alignment. (NOTE: For all alignment with academic standards, MTSS, and more see here)
  • ESSA Tier 2 evidence-based intervention: P2 meets the criteria for a Tier 2 evidence-based intervention under ESSA. Defined by ESSA, Tier 2 interventions (practices or programs) must provide moderate evidence demonstrating that one or more well-designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental studies support it. You can find the ESSA alignment here. And, please see peer-reviewed journal articles about P2’s efficacy below.
    • “Character Education to Address Elementary Students’ Emotional and Behavioral Development: A Quasi-Experimental Study” in the International Journal of Education. Full article here.
    • “Character Education to Improve Students’ Sense of Relatedness” in the International Journal of Education. Full article here. Summary of article here.
    • “Positivity in Action: Character Education through the Positivity Project” in the International Journal of Emerging Trends in Social Sciences. Full article here.
Where can I find the Character Strength Calendar? Do all Partner Schools need to follow the exact order? Why are some strengths taught for two weeks?

You can find the Character Strengths Calendar on our Resources page. Its purpose is to have a common calendar that all of our Partner Schools nationwide can follow. We have two start dates – one in August and one in September.

We know that schools are on all types of different schedules — and that it’s not feasible for everyone to stick to an exact calendar. So, if a school can’t start on the exact date, or needs to miss a week, they can make it up elsewhere. To help schools do that, we’ve incorporated “Spiral Review” weeks.

All the strengths are equally important. Gratitude lasts for two weeks due to the short week for Thanksgiving.

How can I access the resources to use in my classroom?

Once your school principal completes the online form, we will connect with your school’s P2 Leader to get a list of Google Drive staff accounts. Then, you just need to be signed in to your school account, and you’ll be able to access everything on our Resources page.

We are getting ready to kick off P2 at our school. Can you give us some direction on how to best promote it to our students?
First, we recommend that you take a look at the elementary, middle, and high school Implementation Strategy Playbooks, available on our resources page. To connect with other Partner Schools and see what they’re up to, you can follow the hashtag #PositivityInAction on Twitter.
Additionally, we recommend the following:
1. Conduct a 1- or 3-hour staff-wide P2 using the P2 100 Video.
2. Encourage your teachers to go to the Resources page on our website and to this short overview of what resources are available to them.
3. Print and hang the PositivityShield and Character Strength Word Wall Placards in every classroom in the building. This consistent exposure helps students build their understanding or the 24 character strengths vocabulary and concepts.
4. Look through the beginning of year checklists for new or returning Partner Schools.

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