Developmental Assets are Building Blocks


The 40 Developmental Assets are building blocks of healthy development that can help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. 


On one level, the 40 developmental assets represent everyday wisdom about positive experiences and characteristics for young people.  These assets are powerful influences on adolescent behavior – both protecting young people from many different problem behaviors and promoting positive attitudes and behaviors.  This power is evident across all cultural and socioeconomic groups of youth. There is also evidence from other research that assets may have the same kind of power for younger children. 


Protecting youth from high-risk behaviors and promoting positive attitudes and behaviors increases the changes that young people will have positive attitudes and behaviors such as succeeding in school, value diversity, maintain good health and delay gratification.


What is challenging for our community is while the assets are powerful shapers of young people’s lives and choices; too few young people experience many of these assets.  On average 18 of the 40 assets are experienced by young people.  In general, older youth have lower average levels of assets than younger youth.  And boys experience fewer assets than girls.  Ideally, all youth would experience at least 31 of these 40 assets.  Yet according to the Search Institutes Survey (100,000 6th – 12th grade youth surveyed in 213 towns and cities in the United States), only 8 percent of youth experienced this level of assets.  Sixty-two percent experienced fewer than 20 of the assets.


The following is a simple checklist to reflect on the assets young people experience.  This checklist simplifies the asset list to help prompt conversation in families, organizations, and communities.


  1. I receive high levels of love and support from family members.
  2. I can go to my parents or guardians for advice and support and have frequent, in depth conversations with them.
  3. I know some nonparent adults I can go to for advice and support.
  4. My neighbors encourage and support me.
  5. My school provides a caring, encouraging environment.
  6. My parents or guardians help me succeed in school.
  7. I feel valued by adults in my community.
  8. I am given useful roles in my community.
  9. I serve in the community one hour or more each week.
  10. I feel safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.
  11. My family sets standards for appropriate conduct and monitors my whereabouts.
  12. My school has clear rules and consequences for behavior.
  13. Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring my behavior.
  14. Parents and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
  15. My best friends model responsible behavior.
  16. My parents/guardians and teachers encourage me to do well.
  17. I spend three hours or more each week in lessons or practice in music, theatre, or other arts.
  18. I spend one hour or more each week in school or community sports, clubs, or organizations.
  19. I spend one hour or more each week in religious services or participating in spiritual activites.
  20. I go out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights each week.
  21. I want to do well in school.
  22. I am actively engaged in learning.
  23. I do an hour or more of homework each school day.
  24. I care about my school.
  25. I read for pleasure three or more hours a week.
  26. I believe it is really important to help other people.
  27. I want to help promote equality and reduce world hunger and poverty.
  28. I can stand up for what I believe.
  29. I tell the truth even when it is not easy.
  30. I can accept and take personal responsibility.
  31. I believe that it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.
  32. I am good at planning ahead and making decisions.
  33. I am good and making and keeping friends.
  34. I know and am comfortable with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.
  35. I can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
  36. I try to resolve conflict nonviolently.
  37. I believe that I have control over many things that happen to me.
  38. I feel good about myself.
  39. I believe that my life has a purpose.
  40. I am optimistic about my future.


For more information about asset building and Healthy Communities/Healthy Youth, contact Lori Johnson, Tama County Empowerment Coordinator, Tama County Public Health and Home Care, at (641) 484-4788 or 1-866-484-4788.