The 40 Developmental Assets, as identified by Search Institute, are at the core of Great KIDS make Great COMMUNITIES. In 1990, Search Institute released a framework of the 40 Developmental Assets, which identifies a set of skills, experiences, relationships, and behaviors that enable young people to develop into successful and contributing adults. Over the following two decades, the Developmental Assets framework and approach to youth development became the most frequently cited and widely utilized in the world, creating what Stanford University’s William Damon described as a “sea change” in adolescent development.
Data collected from Search Institute surveys of more than 4 million children and youth from all backgrounds and situations has consistently demonstrated that the more Developmental Assets young people acquire, the better their chances of succeeding in school and becoming happy, healthy, and contributing members of their communities and society.
The Assets are divided into 20 “internal” assets and 20 “external” assets. The External Assets are those relationships and experiences a young person finds in his or her immediate environment. The Internal Assets are those qualities and characteristics that develop within a young person.
So what are these Developmental Assets? The assets are spread across eight broad areas of human development. The 40 Assets within these categories paint a picture of the positive things all young people need to grow up healthy and responsible.
1. Family support — Family life provides high levels of love and support.
2. Positive family communication —; Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parent(s).
3. Other adult relationships — Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.
4. Caring neighborhood — Young person experiences caring neighbors.
5. Caring school climate — School provides a caring, encouraging environment.
6. Parent involvement in schooling — Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.
7. Community values youth — Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.
8. Youth as resources — Young people are given useful roles in the community.
9. Service to others — Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week.
10. Safety — Young person feels safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.
BOUNDARIES AND EXPECTATIONS
11. Family boundaries — Family has clear rules and consequences, and monitors the young person’s whereabouts.
12. School boundaries — School provides clear rules and consequences.
13. Neighborhood boundaries — Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior.
14. Adult role models — Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
15. Positive peer influence — Young person’s best friends model responsible behavior.
16. High expectations — Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.
CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF TIME
17. Creative activities — Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.
18. Youth programs — Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in the community.
19. Religious community — Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution.
20. Time at home — Young person is out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights per week.
COMMITMENT TO LEARNING
21. Achievement motivation — Young person is motivated to do well in school.
22. School engagement — Young person is actively engaged in learning.
23. Homework — Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day.
24. Bonding to school — Young person cares about his or her school.
25. Reading for pleasure — Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.
26. Caring — Young person places high value on helping other people.
27. Equality and social justice — Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
28. Integrity — Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.
29. Honesty — Young person “tells the truth even when it is not easy.”
30. Responsibility — Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
31. Restraint — Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.
32. Planning and decision-making — Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
33. Interpersonal competence — Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
34. Cultural competence — Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ ethnic backgrounds.
35. Resistance skills — Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
36. Peaceful conflict resolution — Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.
37. Personal power — Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.”
38. Self-esteem — Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
39. Sense of purpose — Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.”
40. Positive view of personal future — Young person is optimistic about his or her personal future.
Why are the Assets important?
Assets can be seen as the building blocks of healthy development. According to the research conducted by the Search Institute, the more assets a youth has, the more able they are to grow up with resiliency and make a successful transition to adulthood. Regardless of gender, ethnic heritage, economic situation, or geographic location, these assets both promote positive behaviors and attitudes (such as school success and valuing diversity) and help protect young people from many different problem behaviors (violence, drug and alcohol use, sexual activity, and others.)