Positive Youth Development


The National Collaboration for Youth believes that:

  • While parents have the primary responsibility for the social, ethical, emotional, physical, and cognitive development of their children, programs that support their efforts can strengthen the ability of the family to raise healthy children, productive workers, and responsible citizens.
  • A proactive, asset-based approach to youth development will benefit young people, families, and communities.
  • There is a nation-wide need for a major expansion of community-based services that promote positive youth development.
  • Government decisions regarding youth must not be driven by a remedial or punitive approach to the problems of young people; rather, government must adopt a comprehensive strategy to promote the positive development of all school-age youth, encouraging and empowering communities to develop and implement comprehensive plans to meet the growing needs of this often forgotten segment of our population.
  • Young people should be partners with adults in decision making that affects their lives.
  • Community strategic plans for positive youth development should:
    • Identify youth development as a broad public responsibility;
    • Support the primary role of family;
    • Include young people as partners with adults in decision-making;
    • Focus on fully preparing youth for the challenges of adulthood;
    • Support the expansion of youth development opportunities provided by community-based organizations.
    • Increase community coordination and collaboration in meeting the developmental needs of youth; and
    • Raise awareness of the youth development profession.
  • Male and female youth deserve equal access to programs and services offered by schools and community providers consistent with Title IX, and its regulations as enforced as of January 2003.
  • Support programs that go beyond just academic learning for each child to experiences that encourage the development of the whole child—one who is knowledgeable, healthy, motivated, and engaged.
  • Address the effects of relational aggression, bullying, harassment and unhealthy media images on children’s physical and emotional health.
  • Help parents, grandparents, guardians, volunteers, teachers, school staff and afterschool staff learn how to model a healthy lifestyle so that children and youth will make healthier choices.
  • Support community based organizations that can and should be vital partners in developing and delivering solutions that promote many components of healthy living.


The federal government should take the following actions related to positive youth development:

  • Enact the Federal Youth Coordination Act (H.R. 4703), which would create a Federal Youth Development Council to facilitate interagency collaboration, coordinate federal research, and identify and replicate model programs.
  • Provide resources to community youth development programs as an economically sound, front-end investment in youth that will eventually lower public expenditures for incarceration, social support, and welfare payments.
  • Provide support for strong local collaborations of community groups, organizations, and centers offering a broad range of developmental programs enabling young people to meet their basic physical and social needs and build the competencies necessary for successful adolescence and adulthood.
  • Appropriate significant funds on a stable basis to carry out youth development policies and programs in order to improve positive youth outcomes and reduce risky behaviors.
  • Provide incentives for holistic youth development through truly collaborative partnerships between community-based organizations and educational systems.
  • Allocate research funds to study youth development programs and their outcomes, and widely distribute the results.
  • Support information networks to provide support for youth development professionals and to connect research to practice.
  • Fully commit to gender equity.