Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Roots of Empathy organization?

Roots of Empathy is a powerful idea whose time has come. A charitable organization, our mission is to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. Our vision is to change the world, child by child.

Incorporated in 2000, Roots of Empathy was named after its flagship evidence-based program, which was created in 1996 by Mary Gordon. Roots of Empathy is considered a model of social innovation. We have two programs: a program for children in elementary school (Roots of Empathy) and its “younger sibling,” a program for children three to five years old in early childhood settings (Seeds of Empathy).

Mary Gordon has written a best-selling book, Roots of Empathy: changing the world child by child, which describes the Roots of Empathy philosophy. The book is available in bookstores across Canada and the United States, or can be ordered online at, or

You can download the first chapter for free.

The head office is located in Toronto, Canada, which is also the location of the Roots of Empathy Centre of Excellence. For more information on the Roots of Empathy organization and our Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy programs, please visit

How do I purchase the Roots of Empathy Curriculum?

The Roots of Empathy curriculum documents are not available for purchase. The curriculum is leased to instructors for as long as they deliver the program and must be returned when the instructor stops teaching. It is made available as part of the instructor training process.

How can I get Roots of Empathy into my school/community/country?

Currently the program is active in all Canadian provinces. Please see the Contact Us page on our website for Canadian contact information.

We also have programs in:

Northern Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Costa Rica
United States: Washington, California, New York, Washington D.C., Hawaii
New Zealand

Over the coming years, we plan to continue expanding Roots of Empathy. Typically programs are launched after community partnerships are formed and a great deal of development work is in place. We generally expect an initial three-year commitment to allow the program to become successful.

If you are outside Canada, and might be in a position to offer an initial three-year commitment, please feel welcome to share a description of the organization or group you represent and details about your interest in growing the program by emailing

How can I become a Roots of Empathy instructor?

We train instructors where we have established programs. We offer training where the program will be delivered. It is not possible to train in another location or country and return home to set up a program in an individual school. We provide training to 20 people at a time.

How can my baby and I volunteer to become a Roots of Empathy family?

If you live in a Roots of Empathy community, and your baby is between two and four months old at the beginning of the program, you can apply to become a Roots of Empathy Family. If you are within Canada, please contact the staff contact for your area as listed on our website’s Contact Us page and indicate where you live. If you are outside of Canada, and live in an area where we have programs (see list above), please contact  being sure to mention the community where you live.

How can I keep in touch with the Roots of Empathy organization and find out more about Roots of Empathy programs and Seeds of Empathy programs?

If you’d like to receive our Roots of Empathy newsletter Green Blanket, and an occasional update on our news and plans for expansion, please join our mailing list.

Thank you for your interest in the Roots of Empathy organization.

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