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2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Characters of Character NFP, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Children & Youth, Education, Humanities, Youth Development - Citizenship, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Our program is used to establish a firm foundation in which children develop strong civic values.

Target demographics: teach social, emotional, communication and literacy skills

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1,000 children and different communities

Geographic areas served: Nationwide

Programs: Children's books, posters, curriculum, character activities and painting classes, donations to children's hospitals

Community Stories

50 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program continues to help our young children with their character in and out of the classroom. It does "take a village", and this beautiful program should be apart of yours!

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Manners Monkey teaching tool booklet is a great way to teach early pragmatic skills to young children. This particular tool is effective because it teaches children the important social language skills related to demonstrating good manners in a variety of social situations, including at home, in public, in the classroom, at a friend’s house, and at the table. This booklet also features a variety of useful tools for teachers, speech-language pathologists, and other developmental specialists to facilitate good social communication/manners, including posters, worksheets, rewards/incentives, and progress reports. Additionally, the booklet contains writing prompts to encourage older children to think critically about manners and how they can be applied to a child’s various environments. The early pragmatic skills taught in the Manners Monkey booklet feature concepts that are essential for children to develop and master to improve language skills and teach important values. Children with communication disorders stemming from a variety of underlying conditions however, often demonstrate particular difficulty acquiring these social language skills. Supplemental teaching tools, such as the Manners Monkey booklet, gives pediatric speech pathologists a simple and fun way to target this area of language during therapy sessions. It also provides clinicians with tools to track progress and encourage carryover to settings outside of the therapy room.

2 Rachel168

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We had the pleasure of having Joni and Characters of Character join our children's carnival event. Joni was so well prepared for the event, with games, crafts, and giveaways planned! Not only did the kids have a great time interacting with her booth, they learned valuable life lessons that are easy for little ones to understand!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This group has such a heart! The reading materials and coloring books are high quality and super engaging for the little ones. Great organization making a difference in our community.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This program isn't just a non profit, it's a way of life for the creator whom I've seen single handedly instill good morals and values in the little lives she teaches. Who wouldn't want their children to be better, more well rounded and kind members of society?

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Characters of character is a great program. It gets children involved with learning about many different behaviors, in a fun and interactive way. I was a teacher and I know that the way kids learn best is through hands on. This program is loved by many many people, not just kids, but adults as well. Love how all the characters are brought to life and the many different activities that go along with it! Keep up the good work characters of character. If you haven't looked into this program, you should! !

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Characters of Character is the most fun learning program I have seen in a long time! We need so badly to teach our children good character models in the day and age we live in. The books and learning materials are bright and interesting and so fun! I highly recommend Characters of Character to every school and learning institution looking for a great program for the children!

Crissy Handley
Caring For You Healthy Living
cfyhealthyliving@charter.net

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Characters of Character is an awe-inspiring organization that puts forth hard work to better the lives of others.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Characters of Character is a wonderful organization helping children to understand core values! The characters make it easy for the kids to relate & it's a fun & engaging way to instill positive traits in children.

2 Victoria50

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Characters of Character is a wonderful organization. Joni Downey has devoted her life to bettering the lives of all children. The program teaches children to be better people, and teaches self esteem. The characters are adorable and children seem to love them. Thank God we still have people who truly want to make the world a better place, one child at a time.

2 Betty47

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Joni, Is a remarkable leader and teacher, In my fifteen years of teaching I have never met anyone quite as amazing as Joni is with her non-profit enterprise. She not only wrote her curriculum but she has animal costumes to help young children connect with a certain character trail, Behavior Bear, is just one of the characters she shows kids .
Most importantly this program benefits all young children to be in learning, .Like Respectful Rabbit would say: think of others before yourself. Every pre-school through first grader would benefit from her program.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Due to her teaching background she is very passionate about helping young children with their moral compass. By starting Characters of Character as a charitable organization shows that she has taken the next step in putting her dreams into action. I highly recommend Joni as a business person and someone that is dedicating her life to helping children.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My granddaughter loves the characters! She has done several if the activities and is learning important lessons while having fun.
I would love to see Characters of Character in schools across the country- and in home school groups.

2 Ruth51

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Characters of Character is a wonderful non-profit childrens character education program.

The passion that is put into this program shows in the faces of all the children that it helps.

It is a pleasure to volunteer for such a good organization.

2 Terry63

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We need Characters of Character in every curriculum! Great program!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Have know Joni and family for many years. She is very passionate about her work, and not only talks the talk; but, does the walk too!

3 Beatrice P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Characters of Character offers a variety of services and tools to everyone-from teachers to parents to social workers- to help them instill core values into children. As a volunteer for the organization from the very beginning I have seen the impact that the Characters have on children and how easy the Characters make it for children to relate to them. They provide an outlet for children of all ages to express themselves in a positive manner!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Teaching our children strong core values is essential today and I cant think of a more engaging, empowering and effective way to teach our children than with the Characters of Character. I've witnessed so many kids hugging, talking and understanding the characters at so many community events, classroom visits, fundraisers, libraries and more. I've witnessed parents and educators alike thanking Joni the creator for working so hard on sharing her organization, characters, books, curriculum, posters, games and knowledge to help teach our children good character. Nothing makes Joni happier than helping our children to understand these character;, Behavior Bear, Do'er Duck, Friendship Frog, Healthy Hippo, Manners Monkey, Respectful Rabbit, Responsible Rabbit, Self-Esteem Elephant and Warm-Hearted would love to meet you, too!

2 Noreen3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Characters of Character program founded by Ms. Joni Downey has been a great tool in teaching our young preschool children about good manners, good character and healthy habits for life. We have enjoyed several visits by "Manners Monkey" or "Behavior Bear" and the children loved it. Ms. Joni exemplifies professionalism and great character in all she does. I highly recommend her program and positive message for our young children. It is greatly needed in a world where there is so much negativity, bullying and violence. The "Characters of Character" is a must for all early childhood educators and young families.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Met Joni in Schaumburg at a children's convention. Wonderful lady, wonderful organization! Got the Let's Be books. Kids love them!

3 Jacky S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Characters of Character is by far the greatest organization to teach kids from right to wrong, never giving up, be respectful, self esteem, health, ... So much more! The kids can interact with the characters and learn so much at the same time. It's a great feeling seeing all the kids being so focused on what Joni has to say about each character and so much good comes out of it. I love this non profit organization!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a home school mom. My children love the Characters and what a fun way to teach them all kinds of great values!
Thank you, Characters of Character!

Previous Stories
3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I home school my children and when they were introduced to the characters in "Characters of Character", they responded so well; they looked forward in practicing what each Character portray. My kids love to show off what they have learned and I can see they are proud to do what is right. I am proud to see my children re-act so positively to the teachings that "Characters of Character" have brought to my home.
Thank you, Characters, we love you!

2 joni4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was working at an elementary school that Joni first introduced her Characters of Character. I saw first hand how enthusiastic her approach was and how excited the children were to learn about them. In a world where it seems like values and simple manners are disappearing, it is so nice to know that somewhere our children are learning these valuabled life lessons. I truly believe every child should experience this program, they will surely benef

Previous Stories
2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I had the honor of meeting with Joni and her Characters of Character. I got to see first hand the powerful impact that these characters have on children and even put a big smile on adults faces! She shared her struggles financially with printing, marketing and attending exhibits with her program which makes sense. I don't understand why funding is so difficult to obtain for such a good caucse. Don't let this worthy, reputable and hard working organization fall by the way side, they make a difference!
Elaine

2 Frances L.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program is great for teachers/ parents that want to teach children empathy, compassion and to overall care for their community. I am currently using one of the programs in my class and see a difference.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Joni Downey and Characters of Character are a bright light and a breath of fresh air. With all the influences of reality TV and other changes in society, Joni and CFC instill solid values and learning that will last children for a life-time. The characters are a delight, and Joni's commitment to impacting the lives of children and working with parents and educators is without peer. Joni and COC should be in every school, in every state throughout the nation. I am fully convinced that lives and families have been touched and changed in a positive way due to the activities and programs of Characters of Character and Joni Downey.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter was doing a pageant and needed a platform. She was looking for a nonprofit organization that she could use for the platform. She was so excited when she found Characters of Character. She firmly believes that these characteristics need to be taught to children and what a fun way to do it, using the fun characters. She loved her year as Miss Roy (Roy, UT), and talking to the schools about the program. She was proud to represent this organization. Thanks Joni Downey for all your support!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Being a doctor, I see patients of different ages. I will say that kids these days DON'T have the discipline and the morals that were instilled in me when I was a kid. Upon hearing about Characters of Character, I applaud Joni's determination to provide an avenue for kids to learn these skills and morals in a fashion that they can relate to. As we all know, these things are taught at a young age by our parents. But if they aren't getting taught this at home, where will they get exposed to it? Three words: Characters of Character. This program is helping develop the future of our society.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am not only a board member of characters of character but an educator who uses characters of character to teach children about good character traits. I use all the characters in my classroom to gain interest and trust from my student's. We have discussions about the characters and their traits. The cuteness of the characters attracts my students and they don't even realize their learning character education. I can't think of another character education curriculum that can impact and teach my student's these life-changing traits. I encourage my students to model the character traits. It's so enlightening when I hear children discussing these traits without any teacher instruction. This is how I know the characters and their traits are reaching my student's. It is not rare to hear shout outs of "Do'er Duck Never Gives Up!" in our classroom.

3

Advisor

Rating: 5

Joni introduced animals as "Characters of Character" to me several years ago. Each animal professes a simple memorable message that address conditions that affect our pre and primary grade school children and their families. I have several of the Characters posted in my office. My colleagues at work are captured by the Characters and often comment: ..."just what I need", ..."my grandkids would love this",..."this should be in my child's classroom". When children visit my office, some immediately recognize the animals; with a little encouragement from a supportive adult the learning process continues for the child. Each animal has a message and children are asked to tell us the message. The method and environment in which the message is conveyed can play an important role in support of parents and teachers. I am sincere in my belief that "Characters of Character" can improve conditions that affect our youth and can lead to the realization of positive outcomes in the development of our youth. I am a parent/grandparent. My grandkids recognize the Characters and the messages that they "tell them"! Philip (IL Dept. of Human Svcs.)

3

Client Served

Rating: 4

Hosting Characters of Character at our bookstore is always a joy. The children love meeting the character and the parents are thrilled with the programming and what their children are able to take away.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

After learning about Healthy Hippo, my kids think twice about saying "NO" to their vegetables! These characters have a simple way of engaging children into good choices, we love the CHARACTERS! Kole and Paige's mom

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

"AWESOME" describes the program best, for the kids, parents, teachers and community at large. We need more "Characters of Character."

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Characters of Character is a brilliant organization that encourages kids to reach their full potential. As a teacher's assistant, I witnessed first-hand how the Characters taught the kids important life lesssons. Characters of Character is truly making a positive impact on the future generation.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Character of Characters is truly innovated for the children. In the world we live in, everyone is under so much stress (work or family) that we sometimes forget the most important part, OUR CHILDREN. Character of Characters enforces the values of every day life. Getting along with everybody, reaching out to people who are less fortunate and just be kind and a caring person. Our children need that enforcement. The Characters make this learning process fun to the children and it also instills that getting this education from a cute animal will make them stay in school, explore the possibilities of excelling in life. This was a great idea Joni came up with and I know she has lots of support from friends and family. I just wish this wonderful program would be accepted in all if not most of the pre-elementry schools. It's worth the investment to the education sector.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Characters of Character program is an excellent program to teach children the everyday values that they so desperately need today. I have volunteered at events and can say that seeing the children interact with the characters is truly a worthwhile experience and can tell that they love it.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Characters of Character is an engaging, wonderful, fun program to help children learn how to be responsible neighbors and citizens.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had the honor of working with Joni as the Characters of Character were being developed. She spent a huge amount of time reflecting on her years of teaching and determining where the needs were of the school. Through her characters, our students were able to focus on positive behavior and learn exactly what it looks like! The adorable characters told a story to the students which enabled them to remember exactly what positive behavior is all about. I highly recommend this program to any school district! Not only did Joni work with the entire school, but she spent time with individual teachers in order to implement Characters of Character in the most successful way!

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I worked with Joni as she was beginning to develop her characters. We used her characters in our classroom and the students were enthralled with each one. Fourth graders loved her characters and would be actively engaged in the lessons. Her character program was one of the best I have ever worked with. I would encourage any district to look at her program and try it. I think everyone would be thrilled from the teachers, students, and administration. It is a positive, fun, engaging program with cute, cuddly characters students can still embrace. Nice work!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I use characters of character to teach students as young as age two all the way to age twelve everyday! I have been using the characters to teach these students for four years and have witnessed the positive impact these characters have on all ages in a variety of scenarios. We use the characters as positive reminders to share, respect, honesty, manners, healthy habits, good behavior, responsibility and the list goes on and on... I find my students are more likely to respond to the characters which have positive reinforcement much better then day to day reminders such as please share, keep your hands to yourself, or eat your vegetables. It's much more exciting to use phrases such as Friendship Frog shares his toys with his friends and Healthy Hippo likes when his friends eat healthy etc. My students immediately respond to the characters and I can be satisfied in teaching character traits in a respectful, but fun manner. I use character posters around the classroom that remind my students of good character traits. The students enjoy reading the message and if they don't know how to read they know what that character trait means and feel special when they tell you. I use the character writing paper for my students to practice writing in their journals. Each month we concentrate on a specific character of the month. Inside their journals they have writing pages, coloring pages, games, and much more to express their feelings all while learning and feeling good about themselves and others at the same time. My students enjoy learning to draw,color, paint, and write about each character. I can't express how much the characters have been implemented into my everyday curriculum. All the characters fit in so perfectly with the everyday tasks of teaching students. The character of characters program has been beneficial for both my students and myself! The best part of using these characters to teach is when my students move on to the public schools and come back for our afterschool program asking for the characters to share with their new teachers and friends!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Characters of Character is a wonderful non-profit childrens character education program. Characters of Character is unique in that they use nine characters (animals with a unique character trait) that helps children to internalize character traits. For example, Self-Esteem Elephant is used to help children learn about, and make use of, self-esteem and pride in work. It is the cute and cuddly characters that sets Characters of Character apart from other programs and also what makes learning about the character traits so easy for children and students. I have personally seen children curious, involved, and in love with Characters of Character's character without knowing anything about the program. I have heard nothing but excellent feedback from parents, students, and children alike.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was working at an elementary school that Joni first introduced her Characters of Character. I saw first hand how enthusiastic her approach was and how excited the children were to learn about them. In a world where it seems like values and simple manners are disappearing, it is so nice to know that somewhere our children are learning these valuabled life lessons. I truly believe every child should experience this program, they will surely benefit.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was lucky enough to have the privilege of working with Joni as she developed and implemented Characters of Character in the school we worked in. As I observed students fully engaged in learning more about the character of the month, I knew this was a great tool for kids to learn ways in which they can demonstrate respect and kindness towards others. This program is an excellent resource to show students of all ages how important our "Character" is and it is a vital component to be addressed in all venues where learning occurs.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

We (Higher Up Ministries) invited Characters of Character to come to our annual Community Festival called "The Boxwood Bash". They were awesome! I can't even remember how many people came up to me during and also after the event to tell me how great they thought you were. Even the Mayor of Mount Prospect, Irvana Wilks, mentioned what an absolutely marvelous organization this seemed to be! That is high praise coming from a Leader in a community that was voted "The best place to raise Kids in America" a couple of years ago as well as one of the top five communities to live in the United States. Your work with Kids in making a difference in so many lives, keep up the good work! Jan McKenzie, Higher Up Ministries

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My son goes to school at Lake Barrington Academy of Stars, where this program has been strongly implempted. It is a great program that teaches values and morals to children, and it has defenitely affected my son. He loves the program and all of the characters. He even talks about it at home. Character is very important for children to learn. I think it is an excellent program and should be implemented in all child care centers and schools.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Characters of Characters is a great organization that teaches kids character. Its great for the kids to actually interact with the characters while learning whats right and wrong. I LOVE to be a volunteer and help Joni whenever I can. Its a great team to be with and its FUN! Seeing those kids faces light up brings joy :)

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Both my sons go to Lake Barrington Academy of Stars where the Characters Of Character are used to teach values. I am very pleased with the message that they send to my sons and the other children at the preschool. When you think about the standard cirriculum in a classroom character isn't something that's taught, but is something that's exercised around the clock for life. My children get excited to apply all of these characters to any situation. I wish all children could have this type of teaching in their everyday cirriculum. We went to the Kids Expo in Schaumburg, IL and the boys were so excited to see the characters live! My son Jake is especially partial to Friendship Frog :) When he saw Friendship Frog he ran up to him and gave him a great big hug. I truly hope this message can be sent across all schools to help our youth grow in a more sensible direction!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Joni Downey’s Characters of Character program: This extraordinary educational program uses friendly and adorable Characters to teach the everyday values we as a society should be caring about; concepts of responsibility, respect, caring, honesty, perseverance, courage, self-discipline, fairness, and friendship. This program is an invaluable tool for classroom educators & parents alike if you seek to instill character values in your children through lesson plans as well as what they do every day. The program contains thought-provoking discussion starters, activities, reproducible worksheets and lots of fun for exploration in even the toughest of today’s subjects like bullying. My children know exactly what to do when I ask them to be like Manners Monkey at a public restaurant or get their homework done like Doer Duck. There is even a character named Healthy Hippo, thank you for showing you don’t need to be pencil -thin to be healthy! My son’s personal favorite is Warm- Hearted Walrus. I highly recommend the Characters of Character program if you truly want to your kids to absorb the values they will live for a lifetime. You know what I mean if you remember McGruff the Crime Dog and Smokey the Bear.

2 priscilla6

Board Member

Rating: 5

These characters bring such joy to the children, especially when they get to meet the character in costume. Their faces light up, and this alone offers opportunity for discussion about good character. Recently, I met up with a girl who at the time was in second grade and used the program, she is now in eighth grade and remembers each of the lessons that the characters taught. She is filled with good character. Take time to visit the website, read the support letters, play the interactive games, enjoy the pictures of the children and the characters and learn more about this award winning character education program! www.charactersofcharacter.org