What are the 40 Developmental Assets?


Through extensive research, the Search Institute has identified 40 building blocks of healthy development that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. The developmental assets framework takes a step back to look at the adolescent as a whole. It pulls the pieces together into a comprehensive vision of what young people need to thrive.

With this framework, the search institute has identified 40 positive experiences and qualities that all of us have the power to bring into the lives of our children and youth of all backgrounds, every type and size of community and in any family of any income level.

The assets are rooted in the scientific research on adolescent development; the assets grow out of two types of applied research:

PREVENTION: which focuses on protective factors that inhibit high risk behaviours and,

RESILIENCY: which identifies factors that increase young people’s ability to rebound in the face of adversity.

Research shows that the more assets students report having, the more likely they are to also report;

  1. Leadership
  2. Maintain good health
  3. Value diversity
  4. Success in school

Research also identifies the more assets students report having; the less likely they are to also report;

  1. Problem with alcohol use
  2. Illicit Drug Use
  3. Sexual Activity
  4. Violence


The developmental assets framework encompasses eight broad categories of human development to from a picture of the positive things all young people from birth to age 18 need to grow up healthy and responsible.


The first four asset categories focus on external structures, relationships and activities that create a positive environment for youth.

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 be and 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.

The next four categories reflect internal values, skills and beliefs that young people also need to fully engage with and function in the world around them.

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 strong guiding values or principles 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 that they have control over the things that happen to them.





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