Youth Programs

Out of School Time



Enhancing relationships with and among young people through out-of-school-time youth programs is a major focus of Search Institute’s  Relationships for Outcomes Initiative. The partnership focuses on co-creating and testing innovative ways to strengthen the developmental relationships that young people in marginalized communities experience in their schools, programs, and families.

Youth out-of-school-time (OST) programs play an important role in young people’s development, providing key opportunities to strengthen developmental relationships and build a wide range of Developmental Assets®.


out of school time

Opportunity Reboot

Search Institute serves as the independent evaluator for Opportunity Reboot, which focuses on integrating youth development and economic opportunities with career pathway approaches targeting “opportunity youth” throughout the state of Minnesota. The initiative is a partnership between Youthprise; the Office of Youth Development in the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED); and MENTOR Minnesota.

Six community partners across Minnesota are implementing evidence-based wraparound approaches that are aligned with an overall model that includes four core strategies:

  • Implementation of a career pathways framework;
  • Intentional use of positive mentoring relationships and other youth development strategies;
  • Use of individualized goal supports; and,
  • Established cross-sector partnerships.

Search Institute leads a mixed-methods evaluation to understand how community partners’ wraparound models are being implemented, experienced by young people, and their alignment with the Opportunity Reboot theory of change. The impact evaluation is using propensity score matching to compare outcomes from Opportunity Reboot program participants with a comparison group from state data sources who are observationally equivalent.

Partner: Youthprise, which is supported by the Social Innovation Fund of the Corporation for National and Community Service

Enhancing Mentoring with Developmental Relationships

Search Institute partners with U.S. Dream Academy (USDA) to enhance its mentoring programs that serve children and youth exposed to multiple risk factors, including parental incarceration. Our work includes building staff’s capacity to build developmental relationships through mentors and through engaging families. We are also reviewing literature and conducting focus groups  to understand the dynamics of developmental relations across differences in race and class in order to enhance USDA’s training for mentors.

Partner: U.S. Dream Academy, which has support from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in the U.S. Department of Justice

Conservation, Character, and Relationships

While young people are enhancing national parks and learning conservation skills through Student Conservation Association (SCA) programs, they are also developing their character and a commitment to the environment. Across several initiatives, Search Institute works with SCA to understand and enhance positive youth development practices through qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, customized self-assessment tools, professional development design, and studying the critical role of developmental relationships between supervisors, mentors, and program participants.

Partner: Student Conservation Association

Developing Young Leaders through Camping Experiences

Search Institute partners with the Siskiyou Family YMCA (Yreka, CA) to document the current strengths of its outdoor leadership camp (Camp L.E.A.D. for Leadership Education, Adventure Driven) and to identify opportunities to enrich and learn from the camp experience. The camp, which engages about 80 incoming high school freshmen each year, fills a critical gap in this rural county in northern California.

Funding Partner: Ford Family Foundation

Related Research and Resources