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Framework for Action

We don’t just study developmental relationships. We identify what is needed to form and strengthen them. The foundation of our work in schools, programs and communities is driven by the developmental relationships framework.

The developmental relationships framework seeks to answer the question: What happens in relationships that makes them so important to our growth and learning?

It identifies five elements—expressed in 20 specific actions—that make relationships powerful in young people’s lives. The elements are: Express Care, Challenge Growth, Provide Support, Share Power, and Expand Possibilities.

The framework is the result of decades of Search Institute research on positive youth development. We incorporated insights from more than six million young people. We conducted focus groups and undertook secondary research analysis. We tested and re-tested the key concepts that emerged with self-reported surveys.

In other words: We listened to young people and the people who shape their lives. The elements and actions of the developmental relationships framework reflect what they told us matters.

The young people in our lives deserve the very best from the leaders and practitioners who help shape their lives and allow them to engage with and contribute to the world around them.

Building strong developmental relationships is a journey. The developmental relationships framework is a tool for building stronger relationships along the way.

Developmental Relationships

Search Institute’s research on developmental relationships examines the state of young people’s relationships and how those relationships affect who they are, the choices they make, and who they are becoming.

Discover the evidence behind the framework