the next generation. But the work of this committee and its report are confined to one small part of the puzzle: community programs for youth. We have not outlined a plan to overhaul adolescence in America, but only to consider one small part of the enterprise.

Core Concepts

There is a set of core concepts around which the committee based its work and that serve as a foundation for this report:

  • Some youth are doing very well;

  • Some youth are taking dangerous risks and doing poorly;

  • All young people need a variety of experiences to develop to their full potential; and

  • Some young people have unmet needs and are particularly at risk of participating in problem behaviors (e.g., dropping out of school, participating in violent behavior). These include young people who often, but by no means always, live in high-risk neighborhoods, are poor, experience repeated racial and ethnic discrimination, and have a substantial amount of free, unsupervised time during nonschool hours. Other youth who are in special need of more programs include youth with disabilities of all kinds, youth from troubled family situations, and youth with special needs for places to find emotional support.


This report has four parts. Part I, which includes Chapters 2, 3, and 4, provides a framework for promoting adolescent development. Chapter 2 is an overview of adolescent development with attention to developmental issues for youth of different ages. Chapter 3 discusses what constitutes evidence of positive youth development, drawing on empirical studies of well-being and positive developmental outcomes, as well as practical wisdom from leaders in this field about the core human needs and attributes that young people need to develop. This chapter presents a list of personal and social assets that predict current and future well-being. Chapter 4 reviews what is known about the features of the settings in adolescents’ daily life that facilitate the development of these assets. Evidence from both theoretical and practical field-based observations is included.

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