Assets in Action

Asset # 8: Youth As Resources-Young people are given useful roles in the community

History of Assets In Action

During the summer of 2000, 16 members of the Steering Committee attended the California Asset Building: Resiliency and Youth Development Institute. After this four-day conference, members left energized and motivated to start a movement in Chula Vista, “Assets in Action”, to build developmental assets in youth. Today, the CVCC has trained 1,500 people from thirty-four agencies on how to infuse the asset development philosophy into their organization. The asset development model is not about adding another program or hiring more professionals, but rather about enhancing the capacity of individuals that work with youth to build meaningful relationships with them. The asset development trainings change the way people view youth and provides them with asset building strategies that can be adapted in any situation. It is about changing the negative language and stereotyping of youth. Labels such as “at risk” can immobilize youth in their community by defining them in terms of their deficiencies rather than their potential capacities and thus the community will lose some of its best potential. Therefore, this model is essentially working towards a cultural shift that can be adjusted in a variety of contexts.


Overview of Asset Development

The current state of knowledge in the youth development field suggests that “asset development” as an intervention will yield significant and sustainable benefits in the area of youth violence prevention. In an effort to identify the elements of a strength-based approach to healthy youth development, The Search Institute developed the framework of developmental assets. This framework identifies 40 critical factors for young people's growth and development. When drawn together, the assets offer a set of benchmarks for positive child and adolescent development. The assets clearly show important roles that families, schools, congregations, neighborhoods, youth organizations, and others in communities play in shaping young people's lives.


External Assets

The first 20 developmental assets focus on external positive experiences that young people receive from the people and institutions in their lives. Four categories of external assets are included in the framework:

  • Support - Young people need to experience support, care, and love from their families, neighbors, and many others. They need organizations and institutions that provide positive, supportive environments.

  • Empowerment - Young people need to be valued by their community and have opportunities to contribute to others. For this to occur, they must be safe and feel secure.

  • Boundaries and expectations - Young people need to know what is expected of them and whether activities and behaviors are "in bounds" and "out of bounds".

  • Constructive use of time - Young people need constructive, enriching opportunities for growth through creative activities, youth programs, congregational involvement, and quality time at home.


  • Internal Assets

    The next 20 assets focus on internal assets from the community. A community's responsibility for its young does not end with the provision of external assets. There needs to be a similar commitment to nurturing the internal qualities that guide choices and create a sense of centeredness, purpose, and focus. Indeed, shaping internal dispositions that encourage wise, responsible, and compassionate judgments is particularly important in a society that prizes individualism. Four categories of internal assets are included in the framework:

  • Commitment to learning - Young people need to develop a lifelong commitment to education and learning.

  • Positive values - Youth need to develop strong values that guide their choices.

  • Social competencies - Young people need skills and competencies that equip them to make positive choices, to build relationships, and to succeed in life.

  • Positive identity - Young people need a strong sense of their own power, purpose, worth, and promise. (Search Institute website)


  • Research

    Over the last decade, the Search Institute has conducted research that strongly shows that the more developmental assets youth experience, the less likely they are to engage in high-risk behavior and the more likely they are to thrive in positive ways. For more information, refer to the Search Institute's website.


    Trainings Available!

    If your organization is interested in recieving a training, please click here to link to the Workshops & Technical Assistance page. Trainings can be tailored to fit the needs of your organization and can range from a one hour overview to a more intensive all day training. You will learn how to infuse asset building strategies in your everyday life and in the work that you do. For more information click Here to email Heather Nemour.