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Academics & Character

KIPP’s longstanding motto — “Work hard. Be nice.” — isn’t just a tagline. Since KIPP's beginning in 1994, the development of character has been as important to us as the teaching of rigorous academic skills. At KIPP LA, we believe both are critical to the success of our students in college and life.

KIPP LA's schools focus their efforts on the development of seven highly predictive character strengths. The behaviors below provide a roadmap for the development of each strength.

Character Strengths Diagram

Character Strengths & Corresponding Behaviors

Zest Exclamation Point


Approaching life with excitement and energy; feeling alive and activated (actively participates, shows enthusiasm, invigorates others).



Regulating what one feels and does; being self-disciplined (comes to class prepared, pays attention and resists distractions, remembers and follows directions, gets to work rather than procrastinating); Interpersonal (remains calm even when criticized or otherwise provoked, allows others to speak without interruption, is polite to adults and peers, keeps temper in check).

Thank You Gratitude


Being aware of and thankful for opportunities that one has and for good things that happen (recognizes and shows appreciation for others, recognizes and shows appreciation for his/her opportunities).

Curiosity Magnifying Glass


Taking an interest in experience and learning new things for its own sake; finding things fascinating (is eager to explore new things, asks and answers questions to deepen understanding, actively listens to others).

Optimism Rising Sun


Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it (gets over frustrations and setbacks quickly, believes that effort will improve his or her future).

Grit Mountain


Finishing what one starts; completing something despite obstacles; a combination of persistence and resilience (finishes whatever he or she begins, tries very hard even after experiencing failure, works independently with focus).

Social Intelligence

Social Intelligence

Being aware of motives and feelings of other people and oneself, including the ability to reason within large and small groups (able to find solutions during conflicts with others, demonstrates respect for feelings of others, knows when and how to include others).