Select an age range

Developmental Assets (ages 3-5)

The Developmental Assets Framework is a positive youth development framework created by Search Institute, a non-profit organization that researches and works to strengthen the qualities and supports youth need to succeed. The framework focuses on a set of internal (social-emotional strengths, values, and commitments) and external (relationships and opportunities) assets that influence young people’s development and support them to become caring, responsible, and productive adults.

View All Term Definitions

Developmental Assets (ages…internal assestscommitment to learningpositive valuessocial competenciespositive identitymotivation to masteryengagement in learning…home-program connection bonding to programsearly literacycaringequality and social…integrityhonestyresponsibilityself-regulationplanning and decision…interpersonal skillscultural awareness and…resistance skillspeaceful conflict…personal powerself-esteemsense of purposepositive view of personal…

Breakdown by Domain

Domain Key


Key Features

Context & Culture

  • Acknowledges that culture, context, and experience impact how young people develop and experience assets, and uses survey data to highlight unique strengths and challenges among different populations, with a particular focus on youth of color and LGBT youth
  • Framework includes 20 external assets that outline how families, schools, and communities can support youth
  • Developed using survey information from nearly 6 million youth in the United States and globally
  • Framework has been used in more than 30 countries and translated into 17 languages by local community groups, and provides survey data to illustrate how the way young people develop and experience Developmental Assets varies across 30+ countries

Developmental Perspective

  • The program provides separate asset indicators for four age groups: early childhood (ages 3-5), children (ages 5-9), middle childhood (ages 8-12), and adolescents (ages 12-18)

Associated Outcomes

  • Highlights findings from the Search Institute’s Attitudes and Behaviors Survey that suggest the presence of developmental assets in adolescents’ lives reduces risk behaviors and promotes thriving

Available Resources

Support Materials

  • Workshops on how to build and measure Developmental Assets for various audiences, including community or organization-wide workshops as well as workshops specifically for young people, teachers and school leaders, youth program staff and leaders, and faith community leaders
  • Handouts, booklets, and workbooks that describe the assets and provide guidance around building them
  • Research reports and scientific articles on adolescent development in general as well as the developmental assets more specifically
  • Posters designed to be hung in any organization, community, school, congregation, youth, or family setting
  • Accompanying Developmental Relationships framework, which highlights 5 elements (expressed in 20 specific actions) that support individuals, communities, and organizations seeking to build assets to help youth build the strong, positive relationships that foster asset building

Programs & Strategies

  • Sells workbooks and handouts that provide adults with tips and tools for connecting with and building assets in youth
  • Sells activity books for ages 8-12 and 12-18 that include 150+ group activities designed to build developmental assets
  • Offers a peer helper training guide that includes 15 youth coaching sessions designed to help youth learn skills and build healthy relationships based on the developmental assets

Measurement Tools

  • Offers an array of surveys that come with optional one-on-one consultation as well as detailed user manuals and technical support, including:
    • The Attitudes and Behaviors (A&B) Survey, an online student survey for grades 6-12 that measures the 40 Developmental Assets, 24 youth risk behaviors, 10 high-risk behavior patterns, 5 developmental deficits, 8 thriving indicators, and 4 measures required of Drug Free Communities grantees, provides a snapshot of the current experiences and perspectives of adolescent youth as well as the strengths and supports they currently have or need to succeed
    • The Developmental Asset Profile (DAP), a pre-post online student survey for grades 4-12 that measures the eight Developmental Asset categories across five developmental contexts (personal, peers, family, school, community) to provide a snapshot of young people’s internal strengths and external supports, and their growth in these areas over time
    • The Youth and Program Strengths (YAPS), a survey for out-of-school time and community-based programs that combines the DAP with an assessment of the features and opportunities that define high-quality programs to evaluate program quality and integrate youth perspectives

Key Publications

Explore other Frameworks