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.
Developmental Assets Framework
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.
What are Developmental Assets?
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 focus on the relationships and opportunities they need in their families, schools, and communities – External Assets. The remaining assets focus on the social-emotional strengths, values, and commitments that are nurtured within young people – Internal Assets.
When young people have more assets they are:
- More likely to thrive now and in the future
- Less likely to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors
- More likely to be resilient in the face of challenges
Note: Communities around the world have created many additional translations of the Developmental Assets® Framework for use with the children, youth, and families they serve, including: Acholi, Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Farsi, French, Hmong, Japanese, Khmer, Nuer, Russian, Somali, Urdu, and Vietnamese. If you'd like one of these translations or to offer your own translation of the framework, please send us an email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.
- Safety—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.
- 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.
- Homework—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.
- Caring—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.
- Integrity—Parent(s) tell the child it is important to stand up for one’s beliefs.
- Honesty—Parent(s)tell the child it is important to tell the truth.
- Responsibility—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.
- Self-esteem—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.
Related Resources for School and Youth Program Staff
Modeling Strong Relationships Among Staff Members
A video showing how organizations use the developmental relationships framework to model strong relationships with each other and with young people.
Tool / Playbook
Reframing Family Engagement
A self-reflection tool from Search Institute outlining six shifts of emphasis that can energize how schools and organizations engage with families.
Report / Brief
Youth Ecological Strengths
Measures for youth strengths across individual, family, school and community settings.
Related Resources for School and Youth Organization Leaders
Activity where participants guide a blindfolded partner from one point to another, learning and demonstrating the importance of giving and receiving help.
We Meet Them Where They Are
A 5-minute video introducing five Search Institute partners working in marginalized communities.
What I Am Curious About
Activity where participants use a beach ball covered with predetermined categories to generate ideas and get to know each other.