Hero Tall About


We promote positive youth development and advance equity through research and practical solutions.

Search Institute is a nonprofit organization with a sixty-plus-year history of collaboration with partners to conduct and apply research that promotes positive youth development and advances equity. Our tools build connections that help all young people learn and grow.

Search Institute has a long history of advancing issues important to young people and evolving to serve diverse populations. Our research is scientifically rigorous and focused on building strong developmental relationships. Our first priority is to work with young people from marginalized communities to advance equity.

We believe in positive youth development and that understanding systems of access, opportunity, justice, and power is necessary to eliminate barriers. We strive to embrace diverse perspectives, experiences, ways of learning, and forms of wisdom.

In the past decade, our research and practice has focused on the developmental relationships framework, which identifies five elements and 20 actions that make relationships strong for young people.

We are a bridge between theory and practice. We share tools and resources with partners — including schools, organizations, and practitioners — to build and strengthen developmental relationships.

Our Approach

Search Institute’s most powerful learning occurs at the nexus of theory, research, and practice. Our research has been used the world over to strengthen young people’s developmental relationships and help them live their best lives. We use multiple methods and rigorous approaches in our research design, to understand and promote positive youth development at the intersection of foundational relationships and equity. Our strength lies in our strong research team with diverse skills and the deep well of qualitative and quantitative tools that we tap to achieve our objectives.

Search Institute’s team of developmental psychologists, applied research scientists, fellows, scholars and seasoned educators possesses a wealth of experience and expertise in developmental theory, positive youth development, and prevention science. Understanding that research needs to be integrated into practice, they are creating innovative partnerships, tools and resources that are respected and implemented throughout the world.

Watch a TedX talk featuring Dr. Kent Pekel, introducing the five essential elements of the developmental relationships framework.

Who Do We Serve?

Anyone who works with young people. We create partnerships with schools, out-of-school time (OST) youth programs, community coalitions, drug prevention programs, faith-based organizations, family-serving organizations and foster care programs. We are exploring partnerships with juvenile justice centers, child welfare agencies and organizations promoting civic development and engagement of young people.

What Do We Do?

We help people build relationships. We conduct mixed-method research, to deepen our understanding of critical issues in youth development and education. We develop and distribute resources based on our research. We apply that research to create frameworks that inform youth development practice. We create professional learning opportunities, workshops, measurements, surveys and practical resources for partners that serve young people.

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