Vision, Mission & Values

Learn about Search Institute’s purpose and aspirations through our mission, vision and values.

Our Vision

All young people have what they need to thrive.


Our Mission

Search Institute partners with organizations to conduct and apply research that promotes positive youth development and advances equity.

We Value

In our work, internally and externally, we value:

  • Diversity: We embrace diverse perspectives, experiences, ways of learning, and forms of wisdom.
  • Equity: We strive to understand systems of access, opportunity, justice, and power in order to eliminate barriers, recognize strengths, and meet the needs of all.
  • Curiosity: We are driven to learn.
  • Scientific rigor: Our work is grounded in high-quality research.
  • Youth focus: Positive youth development is the ultimate purpose of all we do.
  • Relationships: We strive to build developmental relationships.

What We Do and 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 these objectives. 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, family-serving 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.