Relationships for Outcomes Initiative

Search Institute has partnered with five organizations to co-create and test innovative ways to strengthen the developmental relationships that young people in marginalized communities experience in their schools, programs, and families. We are calling this the Relationships for Outcomes Initiative.


Relationships to outcome initiative
The Relationships for Outcomes Initiative (ROI) focuses on creating strategies and tools to support organizations in being more intentional and inclusive in their efforts to strengthen relationships with and among all the young people and families they serve, particularly those who have historically been marginalized in society. Between 2017 and 2020, ROI seeks to:

  1. Show how a focus on building developmental relationships is a critical lever for improving a wide range of youth outcomes;
  2. Create strategies and tools that equip organizations to be more intentional and inclusive in their relationship-building efforts; and,
  3. Show how these relationships can be transformative in the lives of young people and their families.



Search Institute is working with five action-learning partners with a broad network of programs across the United States. Each has chosen a single local program that will serve as a “design site” for this initiative. The five partners are:




Each partner will focus on strengthening particular relationships in young people’s lives, while also learning from each other to strengthen a wide range of relationships. Overall, the initiative will expand understanding and provide tools to strengthen:

  • Relationships in schools
  • Relationships in out-of-school-time programs
  • Peer relationships
  • Family relationships
  • Mentoring relationships

Initially, ROI will focus on understanding how relationships shape young people’s and families’ experiences in their programs and where there may be opportunities to strengthen those relationships. Then Search Institute will work with each partner to design, prototype, and test tools and strategies aimed at strengthening relationships. Tools and strategies that are found to be most valuable will be made available more broadly.



As a part of the ROI initiative, Search Institute engaged FrameWorks Institute commissioned Frameworks Institute to help us learn more about developmental relationships. The result was Reframing Developmental Relationships, a two-year, multi-methods study that calls for “a profoundly different orientation toward relationships and—specifically—how our society should approach them collectively, through policies and programs.” Read it here.




Core support for ROI is provided by the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust. The Trust supports the ROI action-learning partnerships focused on K-12 education, out-of-school-time programs, mentoring programs, and peer programs. The ROI action-learning partnership focused on family engagement is supported by the Altria Group.