The Hopeful Message of the 40 Developmental Assets
The secret to helping children and youth grow into happy, healthy, and responsible adults isn’t really a
secret at all. Simply make a point to connect with young people: Get to know them, talk to them,
understand them, help them, and build relationships with them. As a caring, trusted adult, you’ll be better
able to provide the building blocks young people need to succeed and reach their goals. Adult role models,
guides, and friends are very important to young people. With your help, young people can begin to
understand themselves and the world around them. We all know growing up isn’t always easy. That’s why
young people need adults like you in their lives.
Research from Search Institute identifies 40 Developmental Assets that have a powerful, positive impact on
young people. Children and teenagers who have high levels of these assets get involved in fewer risky
behaviors and are much more likely to exhibit the positive values, such as leadership, good health,
diversity, and success in school. The bad news is most young people don’t have enough assets. About 59
percent of young people, ages 11–18, have 20 or fewer Developmental Assets, according to Search Institute
surveys. The good news is we can change this because we all have the power to build assets in young
The eight asset categories Search Institute has found crucial in helping young people grow up healthy
- Support: Young people need to be surrounded by people who love, care for, appreciate, and
- Empowerment: Young people need to feel valued and valuable. This happens when youth feel
safe and respected.
- Boundaries and Expectations: Young people need clear rules, consistent consequences for
breaking rules, and encouragement to do their best.
- Constructive Use of Time: Young people need opportunities—outside of school—to learn and
develop new skills and interests with other youth and adults.
- Commitment to Learning: Young people need a sense of the lasting importance of learning and
a belief in their own abilities.
- Positive Values: Young people need to develop strong guiding values to help them make healthy
- Social Competencies: Young people need the skills to interact effectively with others, to make
difficult decisions, and to cope with new situations.
- Positive Identity: Young people need to believe in their own self-worth and to feel they have
control over the things that happen to them.
Each of these categories involves several specific assets that help young people grow up healthy.
Click on any asset category or asset for more information.