Research by Search Institute has identified 40 concrete, positive experiences and qualities – "developmental assets" – that have a tremendous influence on young people's lives. They are qualities which people from all walks of life can help to nurture.
These developmental assets help young people make wise decisions, choose positive paths, and grow up competent, caring, and responsible.
The assets are grouped into 8 categories:
1. Support – they need to experience support, care, and love from their families and many others. They need organizations and institutions that provide positive, supportive environments.
2. Empowerment – Young people need to be valued by their community and have opportunities to contribute to others. They must feel safe and secure.
3. Boundaries and Expectations – They need to know what is expected of them and whether activities and behaviors are "in bounds" or "out of bounds".
4. Constructive use of time – Young people need constructive, enriching opportunities for growth through creative activities, youth programs, congregational involvement, and quality time at home.
5. Commitment to Learning – They need to develop a lifelong commitment to education and learning.
6. Positive Values – Youth need to develop strong values that guide their choices.
7. Social Competencies – They need skills and competencies that equip them to make positive choices, to build relationships, and to succeed in life.
8. Positive Identity – Young people need a strong sense of their own power, purpose, worth, and promise.
The asset framework is a framework that includes everyone. Families, schools, neighborhoods, congregations, and all organizations, institutions, and individuals in a community can play a role in building assets for youth.
Search Institute has identified 40 Developmental Assets, the building blocks of development that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.
2. Positive family communication (and youth seek parental advice and counsel)
3. Other adult relationships (receives support from 3 or more nonparent adults)
4. Caring neighborhood
5. Caring school climate
6. Parent involvement in schooling
7. Community values youth
8. Youth as resources (given useful roles in the community)
9. Service to others (serves in the community one hour or more per week)
10. Safety (feels safe in the home, school and neighborhood)
Boundaries and Expectations
11. Family boundaries (clear rules, youth whereabouts monitored)
12. School boundaries
13. Neighborhood boundaries
14. Adult role models (positive, responsible behavior)
15. Positive peer influence
16. High expectations
Constructive Use of Time
17. Creative activities (3 or more hours per week in lessons or practice in arts)
18. Youth programs (3 or more hours per week in sports, clubs, organizations)
19. Religious community (one hour or more per week in activities)
20. Time at home (out with friends "with nothing special to do" 2 or less nights per week)
Commitment to Learning
21. Achievement motivation (motivated to do well in school)
22. School engagement (actively engaged in learning)
23. Homework (at least one hour of homework each day)
24. Bonding to school (cares about school)
25. Reading for pleasure (three or more hours per week)
26. Caring (places high value on helping others)
27. Equality and social justice
28. Integrity (acts on convictions and stands up for beliefs)
32. Planning and decision making (plans ahead)
33. Interpersonal competence (has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills)
34. Cultural competence
35. Resistance skills (resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations)
36. Peaceful conflict resolution (resolves conflict nonviolently)
37. Personal power (has control over "things that happen to me")
39. Sense of purpose
40. Positive view of personal future (optimistic about personal future)
[1997, Search Institute, 1.800.888.7828, www.search-institute.org; almost 100,000 6th-12thgrade youth surveyed in 213 U.S. towns and cities.]
8 Strengths of Character
[The Smart & Good High Schools report defines performance character and moral character in terms of these 8 Strengths of character and describes promising practices, drawn from our study, for each of these developmental outcomes.]
1. Lifelong learner and Critical Thinker
2. Diligent and Capable Performer
3. Socially and Emotionally Skilled Person
4. Ethical Thinker
5. Respectful and Responsible Moral Agent
6. Self-Disciplined Person who pursues a Health Lifestyle
7. Contributing Community Member and democratic Citizen
8. Spiritual Person engaged in crafting a Life of Noble Purpose