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Developmental Assets Framework

The Developmental Assets Framework identifies 40 research-based, positive experiences and qualities that influence young people’s development, helping them become caring, responsible, and productive adults.

For more than 30 years, Search Institute has studied Developmental Assets® in the lives of millions of young people across the United States and around the world. Research consistently shows that young people from all backgrounds do better when they have a strong foundation of these strengths in their lives.

Grounded in extensive research in youth development, resiliency, and prevention, Developmental Assets® are the 40 positive supports and strengths that young people need to succeed. Half of the assets are external, focusing on the relationships and opportunities they need in their families, schools, and communities. The other half are internal, focusing on the social-emotional strengths, values, and commitments that are nurtured within young people.

When young people have more Developmental Assets® they are more likely to thrive now and in the future, less likely to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors, and more likely to be resilient in the face of challenges.

For more, explore Search Institute's ongoing Developmental Assets® research.

Report / Brief

Developmental Assets Framework

Resource Audience

Adults Youth Program Leaders Parenting Adults Teachers School / Youth Program Staff

Resource Type

Report / Brief

Read Time

Under 5 Minutes

External Assets

The supports, opportunities, and relationships young people need across all aspects of their lives.

Family support

Family life provides high levels of love and support.

Positive family communication

Parent(s) and child communicate positively. Child feels comfortable seeking advice and counsel from parent(s).

Other adult relationships

Child receives support from adults other than her or his parent(s).

Caring neighborhood

Child experiences caring neighbors.

Caring school climate

Relationships with teachers and peers provide a caring, encouraging environment.

Parent involvement in schooling

Parent(s) are actively involved in helping the child succeed in school.

Community values youth

Child feels valued and appreciated by adults in the community.

Children as resources

Child is included in decisions at home and in the community.

Service to others

Child has opportunities to help others in the community.


Child feels safe at home, at school, and in his or her neighborhood.

Family boundaries

Family has clear and consistent rules and consequences and monitors the child’s whereabouts.

School Boundaries

School provides clear rules and consequences.

Neighborhood boundaries

Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring the child’s behavior.

Adult role models

Parent(s) and other adults in the child’s family, as well as nonfamily adults, model positive, responsible behavior.

Positive peer influence

Child's closest friends model positive, responsible behavior.

High expectations

Parent(s) and teachers expect the child to do her or his best at school and in other activities.

Creative activities

Child participates in music, art, drama, or creative writing two or more times per week.

Child programs

Child participates two or more times per week in cocurricular school activities or structured community programs for children.

Religious community

Child attends religious programs or services one or more times per week.

Time at home

Child spends some time most days both in high-quality interaction with parents and doing things at home other than watching TV or playing video games.

Internal Assets

The personal skills, commitments, and values they need to make good choices, take responsibility for their own lives, and be independent and fulfilled.

Achievement Motivation

Child is motivated and strives to do well in school.

Learning Engagement

Child is responsive, attentive, and actively engaged in learning at school and enjoys participating in learning activities outside of school.


Child usually hands in homework on time.

Bonding to school

Child cares about teachers and other adults at school.

Reading for Pleasure

Child enjoys and engages in reading for fun most days of the week.


Parent(s) tell the child it is important to help other people.

Equality and social justice

Parent(s) tell the child it is important to speak up for equal rights for all people.


Parent(s) tell the child it is important to stand up for one’s beliefs.


Parent(s) tell the child it is important to tell the truth.


Parent(s) tell the child it is important to accept personal responsibility for behavior.

Healthy Lifestyle

Parent(s) tell the child it is important to have good health habits and an understanding of healthy sexuality.

Planning and decision making

Child thinks about decisions and is usually happy with results of her or his decisions.

Interpersonal Competence

Child cares about and is affected by other people’s feelings, enjoys making friends, and, when frustrated or angry, tries to calm her- or himself.

Cultural Competence

Child knows and is comfortable with people of different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds and with her or his own cultural identity.

Resistance skills

Child can stay away from people who are likely to get her or him in trouble and is able to say no to doing wrong or dangerous things.

Peaceful conflict resolution

Child seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.

Personal power

Child feels he or she has some influence over things that happen in her or his life.


Child likes and is proud to be the person that he or she is.

Sense of purpose

Child sometimes thinks about what life means and whether there is a purpose for her or his life.

Positive view of personal future

Child is optimistic about her or his personal future.


No written permission is required by Search Institute to copy the Developmental Assets® for educational, noncommercial uses, provided that the list is unchanged and includes this copyright citation:

The 40 Developmental Assets® may be reproduced for educational, non-commercial uses only. Copyright ©1997 Search Institute®, 3001 Broadway Street NE, Suite 310, Minneapolis MN 55413; 800-888-7828; www.search-institute.org. All rights reserved.


Additional Ages
The Developmental Assets® are written for an optimal age range of 12-18 years old. The Assets have been adapted to be more developmentally appropriate for young people in their specific age range. Click an age range to download the adaptation:

Additional Translations
Communities around the world have created many additional translations of the Developmental Assets® Framework for use with the children, youth, and families they serve. They are provided as a service to the international network of Asset Builders. Search Institute has not verified the quality of these translations, and unless noted otherwise, the translations were based on the asset framework for adolescents. Click below to download a translation:

Acholi, Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Farsi, French, Hmong, Japanese, Khmer, Nuer, Russian, Somali, Urdu, and Vietnamese

If you'd like to offer your own translation of the Developmental Assets®, please email us at info@searchinstitute.org.