4-H Mentor Memos

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Mentor MemosA newsletter of helpful information for adults who mentor children

40 Developmental Assets researched by the Search Institute.

Developmental Assetsare positive factors within young people, families, communities, schools, and other settings that research has found to be important in promoting the healthy development of young people.


Building Assets to Promote a Positive Youth Development

4-H believes that a highly effective approach to positive youth development focuses on identifying, enhancing and capitalizing on the strengths/assets of individual young people and the communities within which they live.

Tips for Building These Assets

  • Create a strong foundation in a young person’s life by taking time, remaining patient, and giving a whole lot of love and caring.
  • Value each one of them as individuals
  •  Communicate to one another your family’s values, boundaries, and expectations (as well as those of the community).
  • Give young people the appropriate amount of freedom to make their own decisions depending on their ages, but also offer options along the way.

Here are the facts

Children and teenagers who have high levels of these assets get involved in fewer risky behaviors and are much more likely to exhibit the positive values. The bad news is most young people don’t have enough assets. About 59% of young people, ages 11–18, have 20 or fewer Developmental Assets, according to Search Institute surveys. The good news is we can change this!

Understanding Developmental Assets

8 crucial asset categories found crucial by the Search Institute in helping young people.


  • Support
  • Empowerment
  • Boundaries and Expectations
  • Constructive Use of Time
  • Commitment to Learning
  • Positive Values
  • Social Competencies
  • Positive Identity


We’re All In This Together

 Young people depend on caring adults to provide the external assets.

In your home and family: Ask your children to name a few people who support them. If they don’t name at least three adults, invite some of the adults you know and trust to get involved in your children’s lives.

In your neighborhood and community: Advocate that your community develop meaningful opportunities for young people, such as creative youth programs or service projects.

In your school or 4-H club: Make a point to know every young person’s. Smile when you see them and let them know you expect them to always do their best. Acknowledge their achievements and help them when they’re struggling.

Want to know?  Visit www.search-institute.org/assets