Youth In Action Hero

Youth in Action

Building Relationships Across Borders and Cultures

An International Effort

When nine young women in the Bahr El-Baqar village in Sharquia, northern Egypt, wanted to launch their own publication, they came up against patriarchal biases which taught them that women were not entrepreneurs.

Mohammad, a teenager, dreamed of becoming a carpenter, but had to drop out of school at age 12 to provide for his family.

These young Egyptians discovered ways to reach their potential through a program called Youth in Action, funded by Save the Children Canada in partnership with Mastercard Foundation. Youth in Action serves 40,000 children and youth in Egypt, Malawi, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Uganda.

Once they are selected for the program, young people participate in a 10-month course designed to provide basic academic skills and give them a start on a career pathway. Youth in Action connects young people with local business owners, and youth receive a small stipend for business start-ups.

The program leaders started by adapting a Search Institute measurement tool to discover what young people needed to succeed and flourish in their communities.

Learning from Positive Experiences

Youth in Action partnered with Search Institute to for assistance collecting and gathering data about positive experiences that would help young people succeed in the program. Youth in Action leaders used the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) survey to measure and capture what was going on for young people in the five countries where the program works.

The Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) survey is a social-emotional measurement of the factors that are important for young people’s success in school and life. It grew out of Search Institute’s developmental assets framework, which identifies 4o positive supports and strengths —both external and internal — that young people need to thrive.

More than a million young people have taken the DAP survey, making it one of the most widely used measurement tools in the world. The DAP has taught us that young people with fewer assets are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. We have also learned that youth with more assets are more likely to thrive now and in the future, are less likely to participate in high-risk behaviors, and are more likely to be resilient in the face of challenges.

What Does the Survey Measure?

The Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) survey takes a positive approach to measuring young people’s relationships. It helps organizations ask the following questions about the young people they serve:

  • Do they feel surrounded by people who love, care for, appreciate, and accept them?
  • Do they feel valued, valuable, and safe?
  • Do they feel that they have been provided with clear rules, consistent consequences for breaking rules, and encouragement to always do their best?
  • Do they have opportunities outside of school to learn and develop new skills and interests with other youth and adults?
  • Do they understand the lasting importance of learning and believe in their own abilities?
  • Are they developing strong guiding values that will help them make healthy life choices, including responsibility, empathy, and self-control?
  • Do they have the skills to interact effectively with others, to make difficult decisions, and to cope with new situations?
  • Do they believe in their own self-worth and feel that they have control over the things that happen to them?

Adapting the Survey

Using the survey in the target countries involved some adaptations. Search Institute translated it into five main languages and numerous local languages, adjusting the survey for cultural differences in various countries. Trained professionals delivered the survey to young people who didn’t have the ability to read and write.

The results led to dynamic, life-changing experiences for the young people involved.

Making Connections

The nine Egyptian women interviewed a female business owner named Amira, and learned about ways that women can become successful entrepreneurs in their community. With the help of Youth in Action, they wrote, edited, and published their first magazine: She Can Do. Now other young people are learning from their success.

Mohammed, who wanted to become a carpenter, gained literacy and financial skills through Youth in Action. He began an apprenticeship with local construction contractors and received a stipend to start his own business.

Building Relationships Worldwide

Whether they are growing up in Egypt, California, or Minnesota, what matters most for young people’s growth is the developmental relationships they have with teachers, peers, parents, program leaders, and clergy. Tools like the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) survey are able to transcend national boundaries to assist organizations in their mission of making a better world for young people.

Youth In Action