Catalyst for Youth

Investing in Youth

Building Assets

Catalyst uses the Search Institute’s framework of developmental assets ( as its primary assessment methodology, following the lead of Project Cornerstone, a Santa Clara County-wide collaborative ( The framework offers a way of understanding the strengths young people need in their lives to grow up healthy and responsible and the real power and meaning in this conceptualization is seen when you measure the presence, or absence, of these assets in young people’s lives before and after an intervention. The framework identifies 40 critical factors for young people’s growth and development (see below). The first 20 developmental assets are external assets that focus on positive experiences that young people receive from the people and institutions in their lives. The second 20 are internal assets which guide choices, create a sense of centeredness, purpose, and focus and shape internal dispositions that encourage wise, responsible, and compassionate judgments.

Developmental Assets

Through nation-wide research, Search Institute has identified 40 Developmental Assets as the essential building blocks of healthy child and youth development. Catalyst for Youth builds 22 assets directly and indirectly with its programs.

External Assets

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 Children & Youth – young person perceives that adults in the community value children & 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, 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 (see definitions for different age groups in full reports)

Internal Assets

  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 her or his school
25. Reading for Pleasure – young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week
  Positive Values
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
  Social Competencies
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
  Positive Identity
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 her/his personal future

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