The 40 Developmental Assets Framework

Lethbridge Asset Builders

The Lethbridge Asset builders, formerly Community Developmental Assets Collaboration (CDAC), is a City of Lethbridge initiative to commit resources to increase the assets of young people through the Developmental Assets. In partnership with other human service organizations the Lethbridge Asset Builders are working together to engage and support the community in building resiliency for people of all ages.

The Framework

Through studies involving hundreds of thousands of young people across North America, Search Institute of Minnesota has found 40 factors that are essential to young people’s success. They call these 40 factors "Developmental Assets". They are traits such as skills, relationships, values, and self-perceptions.
External Categories are relationships and opportunities that young people experience in their families, schools and communities (things that other people provide for youth)

  • Support: Answer children’s questions.
  • Empowerment: Ask children’s opinions about what they like and do not like in their daily routines.  Make changes based on some of their ideas.
  • Boundaries & Expectations: Be consistent with the consequences for violating boundaries.
  • Constructive Use of Time: Teach children the skill of balancing their time so that they gradually learn how not to over-book or under-book their schedules.

Internal Categories are skills and values that youth develop within themselves to guide behaviours and choices:

  • Commitment to Learning: Set up a place for children to do homework and set daily homework guidelines.
  • Positive Values: Answer accurately and simply children’s questions about sexuality, alcohol and other drugs.  Ask if they would like more information and respect their answers.
  • Social Competencies: Emphasize that children should use words – rather than actions – to articulate their needs.
  • Positive Identity: Encourage children to seek out answers and solutions when they face obstacles or difficult times.

The more Developmental Assets young people have, the more successful they become.  They have more school and relationship success, live healthier lifestyles and make better choices.
Search Institute has found that young people average only 18.6 of the 40 Developmental Assets.

The City of Lethbridge has committed resources to increasing the assets of young people through the work of a Lethbridge Asset Builders, formerly known as Community Developmental Assets Collaboration (CDAC).  The City has partnered with other human service organizations and are working together to engage and support the community in building resiliency for people of all ages.


Educators and youth leaders know how motivating it can be for young people to discover their "sparks"—those activities and interests that truly engage kids to be their best. Discovering those sparks can help students express their personalities and make unique contributions to the world.

Search Institute research shows that kids who thrive have two important supports: knowledge of what their sparks are and adults who support the development of those sparks. Several research studies show that creative arts, athletics, and learning are the top interests that kids identify as their personal sparks. Other activities like reading, volunteering, nature, and spirituality also spark kids’ passions.  Research also shows, however, that too many kids don’t get the care and attention necessary to help them identify and nurture their sparks. What’s so important about that? Lots. Kids who know and develop their Sparks—and who have adults in their lives to help—have

  • higher grades
  • better school attendance and physical health
  • empathy and social competence
  • concern for the environment
  • a desire to help others and a sense of purpose

Every year Lethbridge Asset Builders, along with two other local committees, put on the Ignite UR Spark fair for youth ages 8 - 17. For more information on this fair, see the Ignite UR Spark Fair link below! 

To get you started, here are some great links and resources that are also available in the documents section:
Search Institute - Discovering What Kids Need to Succeed  
Lions Quest Canada
The Hopeful Message of the 40 Developmental Assets
The External Developmental Assets
The Support Category of Developmental Assets
Asset Connection External Assets Combined
Asset Connection Internal Assets Combined
Developmental Relationships 
Ignite UR Spark Fair