• What are Developmental Assets?

     Many factors influence why some young people have successes in life and why others have a harder time.  Economic circumstances, genetics, trauma, and many other factors play a role.  But, these factors – which seem difficult, if not impossible, to change – aren’t all that matters.  Research by Search Institute has identified 40 concrete, positive experiences and qualities – “developmental assets” – that have a tremendous influence on young people’s lives.  And they are things that people from all walks of life can help to nurture.  Research shows that the 40 developmental assets help young people make wise decisions, choose positive paths, and grow up competent, caring, and responsible.

    Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets are concrete, common sense, positive experiences and qualities essential to raising successful young people. These assets have the power during critical adolescent years to influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible adults.

    The Developmental Asset framework is categorized into two groups of 20 assets. External assets are the positive experiences young people receive from the world around them. These 20 assets are about supporting and empowering young people, about setting boundaries and expectations, and about positive and constructive use of young people's time. External assets identify important roles that families, schools, congregations, neighborhoods, and youth organizations can play in promoting healthy development.

    The twenty internal assets identify those characteristics and behaviors that reflect positive internal growth and development of young people. These assets are about positive values and identities, social competencies, and commitment to learning. The internal Developmental Assets will help these young people make thoughtful and positive choices and, in turn, be better prepared for situations in life that challenge their inner strength and confidence.

    Asset Category
    Asset Name Asset Definition
    Support 1. Family support Family life provides high levels of love and support.
      2. Positive family communication Parents and children communicate positively. Children are willing to seek advice and counsel from their parents.
      3. Other adult relationships Children have support from adults other than their parents.
      4. Caring neighborhood Children experience caring neighbors.
      5. Caring out-of-home climate School and other activities provide caring, encouraging environments for children.
      6. Parent involvement in out-of-home situations Parents are actively involved in helping children succeed in school and in other situations outside the home.
    Empowerment 7. Community values children Children feel that the family and community value and appreciate children.
      8. Children are given useful roles Children are included in age-appropriate family tasks and decisions and are given useful roles at home and in the community.
      9. Service to others Children serve others in the community with their family or in other settings.
      10. Safety Children are safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.
    Boundaries and Expectations 11. Family boundaries The family has clear rules and consequences and monitors children's activities and whereabouts.
      12. Out-of-home boundaries Schools and other out-of-home environments provide clear rules and consequences.
      13. Neighborhood boundaries Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring children's behavior.
      14. Adult role models Parents and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
      15. Positive peer interaction and influence Children interact with other children who model responsible behavior and have opportunities to play and interact in safe, well-supervised settings.
      16. Appropriate expectations for growth Adults have realistic expectations for children's development at this age. Parents, caregivers, and other adults encourage children to achieve and develop their unique talents.
    Constructive Use of Time 17. Creative activities Children participate in music, art, drama, or other creative activities for at least three hours a week at home and elsewhere.
      18. Out-of-home activities Children spend one hour or more each week in extracurricular school activities or structured community programs.
      19. Religious community The family attends religious programs or services for at least one hour per week.
      20. Positive, supervised time at home Children spend most evenings and weekends at home with their parents in predictable, enjoyable routines.
    Commitment to Learning 21. Achievement expectation and motivation Children are motivated to do well in school and other activities.
      22. Children are engaged in learning Children are responsive, attentive, and actively engaged in learning.
      23. Stimulating activity and homework Parents and teachers encourage children to explore and engage in stimulating activities. Children do homework when it's assigned.
      24. Enjoyment of learning and bonding to school Children enjoy learning and care about their school.
      25. Reading for pleasure Children and an adult read together for at least 30 minutes a day. Children also enjoy reading or looking at books or magazines on their own.
    Positive Values 26. Caring Children are encouraged to help other people.
      27. Equality and social justice Children begin to show interest in making the community a better place.
      28. Integrity Children begin to act on their convictions and stand up for their beliefs.
      29. Honesty Children begin to value honesty and act accordingly.
      30. Responsibility Children begin to accept and take personal responsibility for age-appropriate tasks.
      31. Healthy lifestyle and sexual attitudes Children begin to value good health habits and learn healthy sexual attitudes and beliefs as well as respect for others.
    Social Competencies 32. Planning and decision making Children begin to learn how to plan ahead and make choices at appropriate developmental levels.
      33. Interpersonal skills Children interact with adults and children and can make friends. Children express and articulate feelings in appropriate ways and empathize with others.
      34. Cultural competence Children know about and are comfortable with people of different cultural, racial, and/or ethnic backgrounds.
      35. Resistance skills Children start developing the ability to resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
      36. Peaceful conflict resolution Children try to resolve conflicts nonviolently.
    Positive Identity 37. Personal power Children begin to feel they have control over things that happen to them. They begin to manage frustrations and challenges in ways that have positive results for themselves and others.
      38. Self-esteem Children report having high self-esteem.
      39. Sense of purpose Children report that their lives have purpose and actively engage their skills.
      40. Positive view of personal future Children are hopeful and positive about their personal future.

    This list is an educational tool. It is not intended to be nor is it appropriate as a scientific measure of the developmental assets of individuals.

    Copyright © 2000 by Search Institute. All rights reserved. This chart may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial use only (with this copyright line). No other use is permitted without prior permission from Search Institute, 615 First Ave N.E. Suite 125, MN 55413; 800-888-7828.