What is Youth Development?


Youth development is an intentional process of ensuring that youth receive all of the opportunities, services and supports needed to thrive. It is an asset-based model that focuses on the strengths that young people have and how to work with them to build upon those assets. It is rooted in the field of prevention where programs focused on single risk-factor such as substance abuse or risky sexual behaviors. However, the field evolved to focus on how building protective factors and resiliency could determine youth’s power to navigate and thrive life’s challenges. Central to youth development is the inclusion of youth voice and choice, both on an individual level, as well as group collective decision-making. Engaging youth as partners will result in benefits for all parties involved from the involved youth, the adults, the program, and the community at-large. Ultimately, youth development is a practice that permeates into all facets of out-of-school time programing.

The 5 C's of Youth Development in OST

The 40 Developmental Assests


The 40 Developmental Assets® framework was created by Search Institute. It illustrates pillars of resiliency needed for youth to become heathy and productive adults. As the number of assets, a youth possess increases, they become better protected against risk factors. The assets are divided between external assets and internal assets with the former being environmental experiences and the latter being internal traits that drive decision making, values and identity.


Pillars of the Developmental Assets



Boundaries and Expectations

Constructive Use of Time

Commitment to Learning

Positive Values

Social Competencies

Positive Identity


Positive Youth Development Student Questionnaire: Developed in collaboration with The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture through a cooperative agreement with The University of Minnesota, This 77-item student questionnaire measures the 5 C’s (Competence, Connection, Confidence, Caring and Character), plus demographics.

Positive Youth Development Resource Manual: The manual is divided into six sections each of which has a theme and includes several activities with instructions, overheads (slides), handouts and facilitation tips. Additionally, there is a section for resources and references and an addendum of energizers.

The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings From The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development: For more than a decade, preeminent youth development scholars and the team at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, Medford, MA, partnered with faculty at America’s land-grant universities to conduct research defining and measuring positive youth development. This report reviews the multi-year research findings which resulted in a model of approaches to youth development.

The Afterschool Social Emotional Handbook: This e-book from National Afterschool Association, co-branded with VPOST, gives a complete snapshot of SEL in afterschool programming nationally.

Virginia Civic Engagement Programs

The Hampton Youth Commission: Commissioners, appointed by City Council, are able to affect city policy in the areas of youth leadership, civic preparedness, youth activities, and encouraging our young adult community.

YStreet: Y Street is the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s initiative for high school students. students are trained through partner programs on Y Street’s campaigns to promote a healthier Virginia. After the training, Y Street members (Y-Sters) work directly with staff to plan and lead their own projects, events, and more.