Project Love is a school-based, character-development initiative of Values-in-Action Foundation.

Values-in-Action Foundation is a character-building education and training organization. Through school workshops, community events, leadership training and media programs, Values-in-Action empowers teens and adults to build communities of kindness, caring and respect by putting their values-in-action wherever they go.

Purple America is a national initiative of Values-in-Action Foundation to re-focus the American conversation to a civil, productive and respectful dialogue around our shared values. To see America's shared values and get involved, go to



2015 Honoree, Sponsorship & Ticket Information - JOIN US!


Awards and Past Honorees:

The Rescuer of Humanity Award recognizes and honors an individual or an organization of national or international stature, that has chosen to use their leadership beyond professional or institutional requirements to positively change the course of humanity.

Darrell Scott’s daughter Rachel was the first person killed at Columbine High School. Beset with this horrific tragedy, he easily could have ignored the world. Instead, he founded Rachel’s Challenge, now the largest assembly program in the world that engages teenagers to be kind. Since its founding, Rachel’s Challenge has been shown to more than 20 million teenagers. In turn, Darrell has preserved Rachel’s legacy and her desire to sow the seeds of kindness in the world.  

Prior recipients of the Rescuer of Humanity Award include NFL Star Steve Gleason and Dr. Raymond Onders, The Tuskegee Airmen, Dr. Lee Ponsky and MedWish International, Homes for Our Troops, Paul Rusesabagina, Paper Clips Project, Doctors Without Borders, Christopher Reeve and Playing for Peace, Trevor Ferrell and Dr. Bernie Siegel, Brandon Silveria and President George W. Bush, Peter Yarrow, Donna Dees Thomas and Mary Leigh Blek, His Majesty King Hussein I of Jordan and Aaron Feurerstein, Archbishop Henryk Muszynski and Tammie Schnitzer, Rosa Parks, Craig Kielberger, President Jimmy Carter, Steven Spielberg, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand and the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project and Tom Cruise.

The Malden Mills Corporate Kindness Award recognizes and honors corporate leaders who best exemplify the values demonstrated by Malden Mills CEO Aaron Feuerstein.  Malden Mills suffered a devastating fire in 1999 that destroyed much of its operations. Rather than layoff employees, Feuerstein chose to keep the employees on payroll with benefits until the mills could be rebuilt.  His decision, based on kindness, principles and values, not only benefited his employees, but also showed his commitment to his community.

John Kahl accepted the Malden Mills Corporate Kindness Award in recognition of Shurtech Brand’s commitment to sustaining and expanding a corporate culture that emphasizes kindness, caring, community, and fun. Under John’s leadership, Shurtech has enthralled the Greater Cleveland community with the annual Duck Tape Festival, inspired teenagers to engage in creative, positive activities using Duck Tape, and led a workforce and workplace that resonates with warmth and smiles. John has “defied gravity” and nurtures this robust, values-based corporate culture despite the typical corporate hurdles all large businesses face each day. This leadership has rightfully earned Shurtech Brands a designation as one of the “top 100 places to work” by the Plain Dealer.

Prior recipients of the Malden Mills Award include Rick Chiricosta and Medical Mutual, Mayor Frank G. Jackson, CEO Eric Gordon and Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Paul Clark and PNC, Thomas F. Zenty III, Fred C. Rothstein, MD, Ed Davidson, Dan Austin, Alan Schonberg, Jack Kahl, David and Ann Brennan, Sam Miller, Vince and Joe Aveni, Michael Siegal, Scott Wolstein and Henry L. Meyer III and William Christopher.


Gordon E. Heffern Award for Values, Ethics and Community recognizes and honors a community leader who leads with values, ethics and responsibility. 

Jack Kahl leads with his heart by lifting up and mentoring others, supporting Cleveland’s charities, and trailblazing to create new inroads. Whether at the Cleveland Clinic, Saint  Martin de Porres High School, St. Edward High School, John Carroll University, or the Irish-American Cultural gala, Jack is often the first to jump onto a cause or new idea. Much like Gordon Heffern, Jack has been a cheerleader for Cleveland and its institutions and for creating a happy and wholesome region – in business, education, faith and leadership. For his life achievements and continued enthusiasm and leadership, we honor Jack with the Gordon E. Heffern Award.




Close-Caputo Educator of Humanity Award, named after educators Carole Close and Charlie Caputo, recognizes educators who have shown an intense commitment to educating and developing students of character who model the principles of kindness, caring and mutual respect. Recipients are acknowledged as role models of these values, and inspire those values in students.

John Zitzner and Alan Rosskamm and Breakthrough Schools believe that every child in our city should attend an excellent school that taps and nurtures their potential. Out of that desire, they configured top charter schools – E-Prep, Citizens Academy, and Intergenerational – into Breakthrough Charter Schools and have created the highest rated charter school network in the State of Ohio. Also, they collaborated with the Cleveland Schools and other partners to create The Cleveland Plan, breaking new ground for the future of educational excellence in Cleveland.




Alan R. Schonberg Community Rescuer Awards are given to individuals who have chosen to make a positive difference in their communities by helping people overcome obstacles, by building bridges between people, by diffusing violence or meanness, or by encouraging and fostering community organizations that do the same. These individuals may be in leadership or behind the scenes positions in organizations of any size.

Zac Ponsky heads up MedWorks, a grass-roots organization that engages and aggregates medical, dental and counseling professionals to provide free medical clinics, care and eyeglass screenings to Cleveland's most venerable population throughout the entire year. For helping Cleveland become a more caring community, serving thousands of people, engaging doctors, dentists and social workers to give back, building out our under-served infrastructure, and assisting in disaster relief and medical supplies elsewhere, Zac and his organization merit the Alan R. Schonberg Community Rescuer Award.




The Eric Russell Student Kindness Award recognizes students who consistently demonstrate kindness, caring and mutual respect in interactions with adults and peers. This award is named for Eric Scott Russell, a talented bright young man, who embraced Project Love programming after an incident which caused him public humiliation. Despite the efforts of some to turn the incident into a media frenzy focused on racial tension, Eric decided to use what he learned to turn the experience into an opportunity for increased kindness, growth and integrity at his school. The world lost this kind young man to meningitis in December of 2002. It is Project Love's hope that Eric's memory and the example he set among his peers will be a perpetual inspiration to other teens.

Tyler Wynne learned at a young age to be strong and brave. When he was quite young he began to stutter. Tyler realized that stuttering may be something he would have to deal with for the rest of his life. He did not want this obstacle to hinder him later in life. So as a young 7-year-old, he chose to enter the Cuyahoga County Oratorical Contest. Despite his speech impediment, Tyler placed first in the county and went on to place 3rd in the State of Ohio Oratorical Contest. Although he continued to stutter, he placed first in the county four times. Learning to overcome this obstacle helped shape Tyler into the kind and compassionate young man that he is today. 




The Vedem Student Leadership Award recognizes students who take a leadership role in motiviating their peers to demonstrate caring, kindness and mutual respect in their school or community. Their leadership activities can take place in or out of school. 

Madison Wagner knows first hand what it is like to be different. This eighth grade student from The Academy of St. Bartholomew decided, "Enough in Enough: and stood up for what she knew in her heart was the right thing to do. Because of her taking a stand, she faced peer pressure and ultimately it was her world that was affected. However, in Madison's own words, "I know in my heart I took the path of courage and that it's made me a better person; and though the consequences were tough, and sometimes lonely, I would do it again."



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