Developmental Assets: The Next Generation


Dear Colleagues,

A year ago, I had a conversation with a middle school principal that captures a major theme of Search Institute's new strategic focus. That principal, who also happens to be my wife, Katie, had this to say about the work of Search Institute, the organization that I am now privileged to lead: "I have always loved Search Institute, and I love the 40 Developmental Assets too. I understand that kids' lives are complex and that they need many assets to succeed. But let's be real, I've got a thousand kids in this middle school and I don't have the time or resources to work on all 40 assets. I wish Search Institute would identify one big asset I could start with that would lead to the other 39 over time."

Over the ten months that I have been at Search Institute, I have talked with many educators and youth development experts who share Katie's desire for new ways to implement Search Institute's strength-based approach to youth development. Today I'm pleased to share with you a new website and a new report that outlines the ways we are responding to those calls for continuity and change.

Click on the link below to download our new strategy report, and learn about how we are launching new research that identifies the key gateway assets that help young people build the full framework of 40 Developmental Assets. Click here to read about how we have identified developmental relationships as the first of those gateways. I also encourage you to explore our newly redesigned website to learn more about how we are launching a major new study of developmental communities where educational improvement and youth development are everyone's top priority.

Finally, the Search Institute team would like to invite you to share your reactions to our new strategy and website in one of two ways:

1. Comment in the "Add New Comment' area at the bottom of this page.


2. Send us a personal message from this link.

Thank you in advance for your ideas and your interest,

Kent Pekel, President and CEO


SEARCH's new strategy

WOW! I am very excited about this! Our youth ministers have routinely identified with relational ministry more easily than the 40 assets (even though we strongly supported the assets). Now, to have Developmental Assets as the GATEWAY into the 40 Assets sounds like just the language and strategy we have been looking for!!!

developmental relationships

You are affirming what I have come to believe personally and the direction our local initiatives are taking. I have echoed the Search Institute line in response to the question: "which assets are most important?' saying, "well really, they are all interrelated, and the more you have the better." But over the past six to seven years, I have been adding that exact caveat: "I think having other adults, however, is the gateway to many other assets. Start by being that other positive adult in a young person's life." And our most recent initiative in conjunction with community partners and especially the school district is focused on connecting young people to consistent and caring adult relationships. I look forward to your work moving ahead in a way that will support our own work!

Please keep in touch and do

Please keep in touch and do contact us if you would like to engage in a deeper conversation about how Search Institute can continue to support your work.

Thank you for your valuable feedback, Paul,

Gateway Assets

Dear Search Institute,
I have used Search Instutute research, videos and assets for many years in my teacher training courses at Hamline University. As for gateway assets, I have told my pre-service teachers to select one or two a month and work to incorporate them into their everyday curriculum. And of course, education begins with the student/teacher relationship. You cannot inculcate students with knowledge and skills, you can only invite them to cross the threshold and join you in the adventure. They have to trust you to make that commitment. Concerning relationship building with diverse groups of students, we have a field-based undergraduate teacher education program designed to provide our students with both the competence and the confidence to work effectively with diverse P-12 students. To that end, developmental assets apply to pre-service teachers, as well. Finally, as mentors and professors, we need to practice what we preach. Best wishes for success with your new endeavors!

Great for mentors!

I just finished reading the book "How Children Succeed" and then this came across my email! I think this is a great shift in focus for the Search Institute - and as a leader of a mentoring program, I am very excited to see the resources that come. I have often asked the question of "how can we help our mentors become more intentional?" After reading the above mentioned book I have been asking myself "how can we help our mentoring learn how to intentionaly build character traits that will help kids be successful?" I look forward to seeing The Search Institutes recoures to help us help our mentors serve kids in our community even better! Thank you for your leadership and commiment to building brigher futures for kids everywhere!

Great for mentors!

HI Krista, Thanks for sharing your feedback. We're thrilled that you read "How Children Succeed". It's a wonderful resource for youth workers and mentors! If you haven't already seen it, we recommend you take a look at another recently published Search Institute resource, "The Mentor's Field Guide". You can find it at our store, here:

Keep Me Posted!

This is exciting information! I really like the 40 developmental assets as a guide, but would like to get better information about identifying areas of possible growth for our school. Thanks for any information you can provide.

Hi Craig. Thank you for your

Hi Craig. Thank you for your comment and your interest in learning more about Developmental Relationships and our new strategy. I urge you to contact our Client/Partner Services Specialist, Mary Shrader at 800-888-7828 ext. 526 to discuss areas of possible growth for your school. -Kent