40 Developmental Assests

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

people’s lives.

The eight asset categories Search Institute has found crucial in helping young people grow up healthy


External Assets

  • Support: Young people need to be surrounded by people who love, care for, appreciate, and

accept them.

  • 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.

Internal Assets

  • 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

life choices.

  • 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.


External Assets


Asset 1: Family Support

Asset 2: Positive Family Communication

Asset 3: Other Adult Relationships

Asset 4: Caring Neighborhood

Asset 5: Caring School Climate


Asset 6: Parent Involvement in Schooling

Asset 7: Community Values Youth

Asset 8: Youth as Resources

Asset 9: Service to Others

Asset 10: Safety

Boundaries and Expectations

Asset 11: Family Boundaries

Asset 12: School Boundaries

Asset 13: Neighborhood Boundaries

Asset 14: Adult Role Models

Asset 15: Positive Peer Influence

Asset 16: High Expectations

Constructive Use of Time

Asset 17: Creative Activities

Asset 18: Youth Programs

Asset 19: Religious Community

Internal Assets

Commitment to Learning

Asset 21: Achievement Motivation 

Asset 22: School Engagement

Asset 23: Homework

Asset 24: Bonding to School

Asset 25: Reading for Pleasure

Positive Values

Asset 26: Caring

Asset 27: Equality and Social Justice

Asset 28: Integrity

Asset 29: Honesty

Asset 30: Responsibility

Asset 31: Restraint 

Social Competencies

Asset 32: Planning and Decision Making 

Asset 33: Interpersonal Competence

Asset 34: Cultural Competence

Asset 35: Resistance Skills

Asset 36: Peaceful Conflict Resolution 

Positive Identity

Asset 37: Personal Power

Asset 38: Self-Esteem

Asset 39: Sense of Purpose

Asset 40: Positive View of Personal Future