Dr. Owen Cardwell and Dr. Roger Jones created the “Collective Model Project,” which incorporates CliftonStrengths coaching, among other things. Its goal is to “change the trajectory of students by enhancing academic achievement, exploring career opportunities, developing strength-based leadership, increasing developmental assets, and improving decision-making skills.”

Through the Center for Leadership and in collaboration with Vanderbilt University professor Dr. Gilman Whiting, Cardwell and Jones launched the Scholar Identity Institute at Lynchburg. The program, which involved 23 local high school students of color in its first year, emphasizes academic performance and improving attitudes toward education, decision-making, and achievement. Cardwell, Jones, and the Center for Leadership also have partnered with the nationally known Search Institute, an international leader in youth development research, on various initiatives.

These projects include “Spiritual Thriving in Families,” which focuses on the essential role of parents and caregivers in nurturing the spiritual lives and overall well-being of their children. At the project’s core is a human-centered design process that involves three regional labs, located in Portland, Oregon; Pasadena, California; and Lynchburg, Virginia. Each lab partners with African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, and/or low-income families to navigate the program.

Cardwell and Jones also established the Good Gangs initiative in Lynchburg. In their inaugural class, Lynchburg City Schools students completed a specially designed curriculum that instilled responsible decision-making, encouraged participation in crime prevention projects, and reduced social distance between the students and law enforcement.