The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University and The Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics announced today that the Institute has conveyed to Drake University exclusive global rights and responsibilities to maintain and expand the Institute’s CHARACTER COUNTS! character development and Pursuing Victory With Honor build character through sports programs, both domestically and internationally.
The agreement, effective July 1, 2019, is the next step forward of a 22-year collaboration with Drake University which resulted in the highly successful implementation of the CHARACTER COUNTS! and Pursuing Victory With Honor programs in schools and communities across Iowa.
The CHARACTER COUNTS! initiative focuses on the Six Pillars of Character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship) and was created by the Josephson Institute founder Michael Josephson in 1992. It is currently the country’s largest character development initiative used in thousands of schools, youth organizations and communities, reaching millions of students and their families in the United States and several other countries. CHARACTER COUNTS! has grown to impact schools, families, and entire communities worldwide.
The program was brought to Iowa by the state’s late former Governor Robert D. Ray in 1997. For more than a decade, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) has been the lead author of a bi-partisan resolution that has passed every year since 1993 declaring the third week in October as National CHARACTER COUNTS! week. The CHARACTER COUNTS! initiative has also received bi-partisan support from every Iowa governor since 1997.
In executing the agreement, Michael Josephson, 76, founder and president of the Institute (named for his parents) expressed his warmth towards the partnership CHARACTER COUNTS! and Drake University have formed over the years and continues to form for the future.
“As I approach retirement it was vital for the continued growth and viability of CHARACTER COUNTS! and Pursuing Victory With Honor that we identified an organization with the integrity, passion, experience and resources to be steward of our most prominent and impactful programs,” said Josephson. “Our long experience with Drake University and very positive relations with University President Marty Martin, and The Ray Center executive director, Scott Raecker, made Drake the natural choice and I am proud and enthused that our important work will continue through Drake University and our preeminent partner, The Ray Center.”
Martin echoed Mr. Josephson’s enthusiasm: “As a University we are inspired to transform lives and strengthen communities, in part by promising our students that they will leave Drake as responsible global citizens. Bringing the global license for CHARACTER COUNTS! to The Ray Center and Drake will help advance our core commitment to civil discourse and ethical leadership, while modeling these values to the world.”
“Governor Ray’s initial vision for our work was to enhance civility through character development and he saw CHARACTER COUNTS! as a pathway to positively impact the lives of Iowans,” said Scott Raecker, executive director of The Ray Center at Drake. “We are now privileged to have the opportunity to build upon our success in Iowa as we honor the legacy of Michael Josephson and the Josephson Institute with enhanced worldwide impact.”
As the new global headquarters for CHARACTER COUNTS!, The Ray Center will manage all services, training, licensing, merchandising, and communication for both programs.
The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University is dedicated to promoting civility through character development and ethical leadership. Built on the cornerstone of the Six Pillars of CHARACTER COUNTS!, The Ray Center helps create strong, vibrant communities that value positive, healthy relationships and respectful behavior.