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The Positive Youth Development Project

In September, 1996, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) through the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), awarded a grant to the Social Development Research Group (SDRG) at the University of Washington, to examine existing evaluations of positive youth development programs and to summarize the state of the field. The specific goals of the project were:

Advisors to the Project

To design the framework for this review, project staff consulted at length with project officers at DHHS/ASPE, Elisa Koff and Sonia Chessen, and Susan Newcomer at NICHD, as well as the project's advisory board whose members are C. Hendricks Brown, Debra Delgado, Joy Dryfoos, Darnell Hawkins, Doug Kirby, Spero Manson, Inca Mohamed, Jane Quinn, and Roger Weissberg. Project staff, project officers, and the advisory board reached consensus on the defining constructs of positive youth development and on a set of criteria for inclusion of programs. These criteria ultimately determined the programs included in this report.

We are grateful to the advisors and project officers who contributed to this effort to define and evaluate the current state of the field of positive youth development.

Structure of the Report

The report is presented in four chapters. Chapter One reviews the origins of the positive youth development approach, links this approach to developments in prevention science, and documents why an emphasis on promoting positive youth development has emerged in recent years.

Chapter Two presents operational definitions of positive youth development, describes the standards used for selecting program evaluations, and discusses the framework used to analyze them.

Chapter Three describes the findings from evaluations of positive youth development programs. The chapter highlights 25 well-evaluated programs and their results. Elements of the programs are described, including positive youth development constructs, social domains, and strategies. Elements of the evaluations are also described, including evaluation design, sample characteristics, and methods.

Chapter Four summarizes the findings from Chapter Three and discusses challenges and future directions for the field of positive youth development.

Where to?

ASPE Home Page | HHS Home Page | NICHD Home Page ]

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