Search Institute partners with foundations, corporations, national organizations, and other partners to undertake a wide range of research, development, and improvement projects in areas of mutual strategic interest. Below are selected current projects.
U. S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund (I3), with matching support from Cargill Foundation, Curtis L. Carlson Family Foundation, Minneapolis Foundation, Otto Bremer Foundation, Rural School and Community Trust, and Target Corporation.
This project is systematically studying the efficacy of Building Assets Reducing Risks, a comprehensive program to reduce academic failure during students’ first year of high school. The federally funded development project involves expanding the program in the high school where it was developed (St. Louis Park, Minnesota) and replicating it in three additional high schools: Bucksport District, Maine; Sanford School Department, Maine; and Hemet Unified School District in Hemet, California. Independent evaluators are examining the impact of the Building Assets Reducing Risks program on student achievement.
This partnership uses the Developmental Assets Profile and other measures to examine how experiential and non-formal learning opportunities contribute to improving the socio-economic status of vulnerable, rural youth in five African countries: Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Uganda. Search Institute is a partner in the monitoring, evaluation, and learning strategies, including conducting a longitudinal study that will link developmental assets and young people’s workforce and livelihood opportunities and readiness.
This collaboration seeks to integrate a holistic, asset-based approach to child development into World Vision’s work with vulnerable children, youth, and families around the world. A core strategy is to culturally adapt and translate the Developmental Assets Profile as a primary measure of subjective child well-being that can be consistently used across nations and program areas.
Search Institute provides training, technical assistance, and evaluation support to the Salvation Army’s strategies to integrate youth development principles and practices into its network of Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centers across the United States.
Bank It is a collaboration between Capital One and Search Institute to offer real-world financial education that help children, teens, and parents to understand, talk about, and manage money so they can live out their priorities and values in everyday life. It integrates financial literacy and capability with a focus on building the developmental assets that contribute to responsible money management. The website includes information for parents and teens as well as numerous ready-to-use workshops for youth and parents. Visit Bank It to access and use this free resource.
ParentFurther is a practical, research-based web resource and webinar series for families and those who work with them that emphasizes relationship- and asset-based strategies for dealing with the everyday challenges of parenting. It covers dozens of topics that are relevant to families, particularly during the adolescent years. This resource is currently being expanded to include developing an assessment tool and planning process that schools, youth organizations, and other local partners will be able to use to empower families to take concrete steps to prepare their young people for a positive future.
Search Institute is partnering with Dr. Barbara Varenhorst to establish the Varenhorst Center at Search Institute to study and strengthen the relationships in young people’s lives. Dr. Varenhorst, a former Search Institute board member, began the peer helping movement as a school counselor in Palo Alto, California, in the 1960s. The specific focus and strategies for the center are currently in development.
Community Engagement in Educational Improvement and Reform
Search Institute is launching with partners at the University of Minnesota a multi-year, multi-city study of the degree to which community-wide cradle-to-career education reform initiatives are authentically engaging adults and young people at the grassroots level. The study will examine how communities can increase the number and intensity of developmental relationships in young people’s lives beyond the boundaries of schools and programs and across differences in race, culture, language, faith, ideology, and income.
Search Institute has partnered with nFocus Solutions to develop the complete, online service to measure young people’s strengths, supports, and non-cognitive skills using the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP). The first city to adopt this platform is the City of Boston, Massachusetts, which is using the DAP to monitor progress within the 35 centers that are part of the Boston Centers for Youth and Families network.
Search Institute is providing technical support for data collection and utilization to the Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success, which is developing a comprehensive, holistic pathway for success for all students from cradle to career in this rural area of northern Minnesota. Search Institute is working with the residents and other leaders in the initiative to plan and implement an integrated data collection and data-guided learning and mobilization strategy to support the multi-sector collaboration.
RAND Corporation with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse
This five-year federally funded study evaluated the combination of the Developmental Assets and Getting To Outcomes (GTO) frameworks in 12 communities across the state of Maine (2008-2012). It was a collaboration of the RAND Corporation, Search Institute, Vision Training Associates, Maine’s Communities for Children and Youth initiative, and the University of Southern Maine. For project results, tools, and information, visit the project website at: www.agto.search-institute.org
This collaborative research project with West Virginia University and Claremont Graduate University aims to understand how young people grow into civically minded adults who positively contribute to their communities, help others around them, and participate in solving social issues. This project tests the idea that good citizenship is rooted in three key elements: character strengths (e.g., generosity, responsibility), developmental competencies (e.g., emotion regulation, effective decision-making) and supportive contexts (e.g., school, family, peer group, and community settings). We are particularly interested in understanding how these three elements intersect similarly and differently in elementary-, middle school-, and high school-aged youth.
SCA has engaged Search Institute to partner in building the organization’s capacity to intentionally and consistently produce and measure priority youth development outcomes in addition to their conservation goals. This work includes designing, testing, and refining developmentally- and contextually-sensitive strategies, measures, and self-assessment tools. SCA’s mission is to “build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of our environment and communities.”