Strategic Plan

This strategic plan highlights the major goals that will guide our applied research and improvement partnerships from 2020-2025, and the strategies will use to reach these goals. Our objective is to guide the applied research studies and improvement partnerships that Search Institute conducts to help all young people thrive–especially those who are growing up in communities that have been historically marginalized.

What Search Institute Does & Who We Work With

Search Institute achieves its mission in three primary ways:

• Generating knowledge and insight through mixed-methods research:

We conduct and communicate findings from quantitative and qualitative studies to deepen understanding of and reframe critical issues in youth development and education.

Developing and disseminating resources based on our research:

We design and deliver workshops, surveys, and other practical resources that help adults and youth improve the connections they build.

• Partnering to improve outcomes:

We bring together the knowledge that is generated and the resources that are created through our research to deeply collaborate with organizations to put youth on the path to thriving.

 

Search Institute works with a diverse array of partners to achieve its mission. All of the organizations that Search Institute partners with are dedicated to improving the social, emotional, civic and/or academic development (SECAD) of young people, primarily from marginalized communities.

Search Institute’s work mainly takes place through partnerships with schools and with youth programs that occur during out-of-school time (OST). We also work with community coalitions, alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention programs, faith-based organizations, and foster care programs. Over the course of our new strategic plan we would like to explore partnerships with juvenile justice centers and programs, child welfare agencies, and organizations that seek to strengthen the civic development and engagement of young people.

Most of our work takes place in the United States and Canada, but we have conducted successful projects and engaged with youth serving organizations worldwide.

Under Search Institute’s 2020-2025 strategic plan, our first priority will be to work with organizations that serve young people from marginalized communities. In order to achieve that objective, we will actively seek funding and partnerships that enable us to work with those organizations. We will also work with organizations that serve young people from more advantaged backgrounds, but we will not actively seek funding to support those projects or actively recruit partners to participate in them.

When we work with organizations that serve advantaged young people, we will ensure that the lessonswe learn and the resources we create can be incorporated into other partnerships that serve young people from marginalized communities.

Our preferred model is to work with a cross-functional leadership team that facilitates the integration of our research and our resources into every level and every aspect of the work of a youth-serving organization’s work. Because we work with and through such organizations, we generally do not work with individuals who are not affiliated with organizations.

Strategic Goals, Benchmarks, and Strategies

 

Goal 1: Strengthen Youth-Adult Relationships

By 2025, Search Institute will have a suite of research-based resources that have been shown to significantly strengthen developmental relationships between young people and adult staff or volunteers in organizations that primarily serve young people from marginalized communities. Search Institute’s resources for building developmental relationships include workshops, surveys, consulting engagements, youth activities, and a wide range of practical tools for starting and strengthening relationships.

Benchmarks to Be Set and Reported Annually

    1. Number of Participants: The number of people who use or participate in a relationship-building resource from Search Institute.
    2. Impact on Practice: The percentage of people who use or participate in a relationship-building resource from Search Institute who report on a follow-up survey that using or participating in the resource improved their experience of developmental relationships.
    3. Impact on Research: Number of publications and citations of articles in journals for researchers and practitioners describing findings from Search Institute’s effort to achieve this goal.

Strategies

    1. Research: Conduct and synthesize research to inform the creation of tools and resources to strengthen developmental relationships between adults and young people.
    2. Prototype: Establish partnerships with youth-serving organizations through which research-based resources for strengthening developmental relationships are prototyped.
    3. Disseminate: For the tools and resources that show promise of effectiveness and for which there is demand, attract and enlist clients to broadly disseminate the resources.
    4. Evaluate: Evaluate the research-based tools and resources to test and continually improve them over time.

 

Goal 2: Empower Youth to Strengthen Relationships

 

By 2025, Search Institute will have a suite of research-based resources that have been shown to significantly strengthen the developmental relationships young people create and sustain with their peers, parents, and other adults, including those within and across lines of difference.

Benchmarks to Be Set and Reported Annually

    1. Number of Participants: The number of young people who use or participate in a youth empowerment resource from Search Institute.
    2. Impact on Practice: The percentage of young people who participate in a youth empowerment resource from Search Institute who report on a follow-up survey that the program empowered them to strengthen developmental relationships in their lives, including those within and across lines of difference.
    3. Impact on Research: Number of publications and citations of articles in journals for researchers and practitioners describing findings from Search Institute’s effort to achieve this goal.

 

Strategies

    1. Research: Conduct foundational research and analysis to inform the creation of tools and resources to that empower young people to strengthen developmental relationships.
    2. Prototype: Establish partnerships with youth-serving organizations through which researchbased resources for strengthening developmental relationships are prototyped.
    3. Disseminate: For the tools and resources that show promise of effectiveness and for which there is demand, attract and enlist clients to broadly disseminate the resources.
    4. Evaluate: Evaluate the research-based tools and resources to test and continually improve them over time.

 

 

Goal 3: Mobilize Relationships in Organizations to Improve Youth Outcomes

 

By 2025, Search Institute will have developed, disseminated, and published studies of the Relationships for Outcomes Initiative (ROI), an organizational change process that significantly improves the social, emotional, civic, and/or academic outcomes of young people from marginalized communities by building developmental relationships between and among young people, staff/volunteers, and parenting adults.

Benchmarks to Be Set and Reported Annually

    1. Number of Organizations: The number of organizational sites that implement the ROI organizational change process with fidelity to the model developed by Search Institute.
    2. Impact on Outcomes: The percentages of young people in these sites whose social, emotional, civic, and/or academic outcomes improve.
    3. Impact on Research: Number of publications and citations of articles in journals for researchers and practitioners describing findings from Search Institute’s effort to achieve this goal.

Strategies

    1. Research: Conduct and synthesize research on the ways that organizational environments influence the social, emotional, academic, and civic development of young people from marginalized communities.
    2. Partnerships: Establish partnerships with youth-serving organizations to implement the ROI model to improve youth outcomes by strengthening developmental relationships.
    3. Efficacy Study: Conduct a randomized controlled trial or quasi-experimental study of a subset of the organizations utilizing the change process or one or more key components of it in order to explore the question of causation of developmental research on outcomes.

 

4. Grow Financial Resources

 

By 2025, Search Institute will have grown top-line revenue by 50% and built up a board-designated reserve equal to four months of operating expenses to enable the organization to fully achieve its mission and ensure the stability of the organization.

Benchmarks to Be Set and Reported Annually

    1. Revenue Growth: Annual increases in revenue from the following sources needed to meet the top-line revenue goal by 2025: grants, contracts, workshop sales, survey sales, consultative engagement sales, sales of other tools, and fees from licensing of intellectual property.
    2. Financial Reserve: The number of months of operating expenses that a board-designated reserve could fully support.

Strategies

    1. Grants and Contracts: Develop and implement a proactive process for continually cultivating new grants and contracts that advance the goals of the strategic plan and achieve annual benchmarks for growth in revenue from those sources.
    2. Solutions Development: Develop and implement an effective product and services development process to design, deliver and improve upon workshops, surveys, engagements, and other tools.
    3. Marketing and Sales: Develop and implement comprehensive and compelling marketing and sales strategies for all products and services.
    4. Organizational Efficiency: Develop and implement practices to continually improve organizational efficiency and maximize effective use of human and financial resources.

5. Strengthen Staff and Board Engagement

 

By 2025, 90% of Search Institute board members and staff will report that they are meaningfully engaged in advancing the mission of Search Institute.

Benchmarks to Be Set and Reported Annually

    1. Board Engagement: Percentage of board members reporting they are meaningfully engaged.
    2. Staff Engagement: Percentage of staff that report they are meaningfully engaged.
    3. Staff Retention: Percentage of staff retention.

Strategies

    1. Recruitment and Retention: Build a staff and board with the mix of skills and backgrounds needed to fully achieve the objectives of this strategic plan by 2025.
    2. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Create and/or maintain workplace defined by authentic and consistent commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
    3. Staff Effectiveness and Satisfaction: Develop formal and informal processes that enable all Search Institute staff to help Search Institute achieve the organization’s mission and vision while being their whole selves at work.
    4. Board Effectiveness and Satisfaction: Develop formal and informal processes that enable members of the board of directors to help Search Institute achieve the organization’s mission and vision and to achieve their personal goals for serving on the board.

Find information on Search Institute’s Mission, Vision and Values.