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Administration for Children and Families US Department of Health and Human Services


A collaboration to promote
and support young people
as resources and leaders
for our communities
and country

This statement of principles for the positive development of
America's youth reflects the combined thoughts and
support of youth-serving program officials in a broad
range of Federal Departments, non-profit organizations,
advocacy organizations, intergovernmental associations and
others, many of whom collaborated directly on this document.
(A complete list of supporting organizations is at the end.)


Positive youth development is an approach toward all youth that builds on their assets and their potential and helps counter the problems that may affect them. Growing up can be tough for everyone, but young people are far more likely to succeed if they are active participants in decision-making that affects their lives and their communities.

Key elements of positive youth development are:


Today’s young people are living in an exciting time, with an increasingly diverse society, new technologies, and expanding opportunities. To help ensure that they are prepared to become the next generation of parents, workers, leaders, and citizens, government agencies, national youth-serving organizations, foundations and the business community are working together with a shared vision for the youth of our Nation:

Every young person's contributions will be valued today, and he or she will grow up with the hope, opportunity and support needed for successful adulthood.

No one sector, acting alone, can ensure that all young people acquire the competencies, character, and protection they need to seize the opportunities that lie ahead. The time is right to make youth development a national priority, and the organizations that helped develop this publication pledge to do their part. They are committed to working together to:


Reflections from Young People

"The program helped me with the toughest issue—knowing who I am and what I am."

"You brought out the best in me when I didn’t know there was a best. So now when I imagine how big is my future, I know it’s as large as your love."

"I realize now that the program did not just offer me services and funds; it offered me a life."

"I am proud to say that I will be returning to school in the fall to finish my high school education. I'm not saying I don't make mistakes, but it's good to know that I have support when I do."

"If it wasn't for you guys, I wouldn't be here right now."




    Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative: This unprecedented joint effort among the U.S. Departments of Education, Justice, Labor, and Health and Human Services helps communities design comprehensive educational, mental health, social, and juvenile justice services for youth. The services help young people develop the social skills and resilience necessary to avoid risky behaviors.

    Girl Power!: This national public education campaign is sponsored by HHS and helps encourage and empower 9- to 14-year-old girls to make the most of their lives, providing positive messages, accurate health information, and support for girls and those who care about them.

    21st Century Community Learning Centers: The U.S. Department of Education and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation have entered into a partnership to keep inner city and rural public schools open after regular school hours for enhanced learning and developmental opportunities. Schools, members of the National Collaboration for Youth, and other community-based organizations work together on this initiative.

    4H Clubs: Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Cooperative Extension System, since 1902 the 4H Clubs have offered activities and opportunities for growth, learning, and community involvement to youth in every county of the Nation.

    National Youth Network and National Organizations for Youth Safety: With support from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Transportation, these groups give youth an active role in the formulation of policies affecting them.

    AmeriCorps: Of the more than 40,000 AmeriCorps members, most are young and in organizations focused on serving youth or engaging young people themselves to serve others. A special partnership between the Corporation for National Service and America’s Promise supports 500 AmeriCorps Promise Fellows to give leadership to the Promise campaign in communities across the country.

    Neighborhood Networks: This project of the Department of Housing and Urban Development provides nearly 1,000 multi-service computer technology community learning centers in public and low-income housing nationwide to teach computer literacy for 21st Century careers.

    Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF): Nationwide, 35 percent of children receiving child care subsidies through the CCDF are school-aged. This program, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also supports quality improvement activities such as professional development initiatives for staff in after-school programs.


America’s Promise—The Alliance for Youth

Casey Family Programs
William T. Grant Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Council of State Governments
National League of Cities
U.S. Conference of Mayors

IYF—US, International Youth Foundation
National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
National Collaboration for Youth
including the:

        Alliance for Children and Families
        American Camping Association
        American Red Cross
        Association of Junior Leagues International
        Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
        Boy Scouts of America
        Boys & Girls Clubs of America
        Camp Fire USA (formerly Camp Fire Boys and Girls)
        Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
        Child Welfare League of America
        Citizens' Scholarship Foundation of America
        Coalition for Juvenile Justice
        Communities in Schools
        Families, 4-H and Nutrition
        Girl Scouts of the USA
        Girls Incorporated
Hostelling International—American Youth Hostels
        Joint Action in Community Service
        National Alliance for Hispanic Health
        National Crime Prevention Council
        National 4-H Council
        National Mental Health Association
        The National Mentoring Partnership
        National Network for Youth
        National Urban League
        The Salvation Army
        Save the Children
        United Way of America
        Volunteers of America
        WAVE, Inc.
        Women in Community Service
        YMCA of the USA
        Youth Law Center
        YWCA of the USA
National Organizations for Youth Safety

National Training Institute for Community Youth Work
Search Institute
Young Adult Library Services Association
YouthBuild USA
Youth Service America

Corporation for National Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Education
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Department of Transportation

published by
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Family and Youth Services Bureau

For more information about youth and positive youth development, go to the following web site:


November, 2002