The youth development program prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a structured, progressive series of activities and experiences which help them obtain social, emotional, ethical, physical and cognitive competencies. They address the broader developmental assets all children and youth need (such as caring relationships, safe places and activities, health and mental health, marketable skills, opportunities for service and civic participation, and spiritual grounding), in contrast to deficit-based approaches, which focus solely on youth problems.

What elements in young people’s lives are most essential as they complete school, find viable employment, and make positive personal decisions? The youth development program identifies these positive elements and seeks ways to make them available to all youth. Youth development represents a move away from focusing only on negative indicators (rates of teenage pregnancies or high school dropouts, for example) to how all youth can achieve positive outcomes in their lives.