The Endeavor Foundation and The Good Project
A Dedication, with Gratitude
In 1998, the Endeavor Foundation began its remarkable support of our studies of good work, and good citizenship, then known as “The GoodWork Project.” Ever since that time, the Foundation has provided steady, largely unrestricted funding for our work, and as a result, has catalyzed and actively facilitated many stages of growth and development. We are tremendously grateful for this unprecedented, far-sighted generosity and have benefited greatly and learned much over the years from our extraordinary, collaborative relationship.
The Foundation initially supported a study investigating the nature of work in the lives of young geneticists, journalists and actors. At this early point in our research, we were still in the process of defining what would eventually become “good work.” Our study considered beliefs, values, goals, and responsibilities—in an effort to determine why some individuals were able to carry out work that was high in quality and ethically sound, while others drawn from the same population were less likely to do so. The study—in conjunction with the parallel studies that we were carrying out with “veteran workers”—proved to be a crucial component in delineating the nature of good work and the ways in which it might or might not be achieved. We found, for example, that young people were struggling with the same dilemmas as veteran professionals, often feeling trapped into poor decision making, reporting ethical lapses and explaining how good “ends” justified their often faulty “means.” And, alas, young workers often had less support and fewer role models than did their veteran counterparts. It was our pleasure to dedicate our book on this work, Making Good, to Julie Kidd, President of the Endeavor Foundation.
What we discovered in this research troubled us, and we were determined to do something about it. And so, more so than at any previous time in our research, we began the transition from “pure” researchers to action researchers and even activists. The resources afforded us by CJEF allowed us to develop and then pilot the Good Work Toolkit, a curriculum designed to encourage Good Work in young people. With the support of the Foundation, we were able to take the time to test and hone our materials with in-depth feedback from a remarkable team of teachers. We also conducted many workshops in many sites, and these proved educational not only for the participants but for us as well. The Toolkit gained momentum, and before long, educators around the US, Mexico, India and elsewhere were using our curriculum. It became clear that we had struck a chord, and we realized we were developing a steady, loyal group of Good Work “friends.” During the next phase of our work, it was time to expand this Good Work community—to put the many educators who had been using our ideas and materials in touch with one another. The much appreciated advice and flexibility of CJEF allowed us to move beyond our previous modes of operation: we developed a website to further explain and disseminate our tools. The participants were amazingly far-flung, in terms of location and motivation. Elementary teachers from New Jersey exchanged ideas with their counterparts in New Delhi; professors in Maine read about Good Work initiatives in the Netherlands. We were no longer simply a resource but increasingly a conduit for individuals who hoped to begin their own Good Work initiatives.
What began as specific support of detailed research has culminated in the Good Project. We are now a dozen separate enterprises under several headings—Good Work, Good Play, Good Life, Good Citizenship—some of which have been funded, some enabled by unrestricted CJEF funding. Along this path, there have been many other important milestones, including the publication of numerous books and articles, the development of multiple courses on Good Project-related ideas, and a thought-provoking Good Work Conference. We are deeply grateful to CJEF for its constant encouragement and support through each phase of our growth over these many years. While the work on this website describes several projects, each with its own funding stream, in a deep sense, the Good Project is the product of the faith placed in us by Julie Kidd, Susan Kassouf, and their colleagues at the Endeavor Foundation. It is with a deep feeling of appreciation that we dedicate this site to our friends at the Foundation.