Since we began in 1988, CharacterPlus has provided training and expertise to educators on how to transform their schools into caring communities where students are respected and learning is optimized. Led by the efforts of Sanford N. McDonnell, the organization was created as a resource of Cooperating School Districts (now EducationPlus) and was named Personal Responsibility Education Process (PREP). It was started with seven school districts and four corporate sponsors and by 1989 fourteen school districts had embraced the goal to enhance academic and ethical responsibility for youth. Linda McKay was hired as PREP's first director, organizing and formalizing our approach to character education.
As our programming spread, so did media attention. In 1989, the television show "Gator Tales with Bobby Norfolk" began on KMOV-TV, featuring lesson plans that emphasized character traits. In 1995, PREP was featured on ABC World News with Peter Jennings.
In the fall of 1999, PREP was renamed CharacterPlus to better reflect the work and purpose of the organization. By this time, 34 area school districts were members. Liz Gibbons took the helm as director in 2002, growing membership during her tenure to more than 70 districts. In 2005, Veronica McDonnell established the Friends of CharacterPlus, a 501(c)3 organization, dedicated to support and help CharacterPlus expand its role in the community. In 2003, CharacterPlus created a series of courses that lead to certification in character education and has certied more than 1300 educators. When Liz Gibbons retired in 2013, Diane Kline joined the organization as executive director. She served until Spring 2016 and was succeeded by Dr. Julie Sperry.