From Palo Alto to Morgan Hill communities have been coming to us to help them start their own local asset initiative. Every community is different, but according to Search Institute there are 5 Action Strategies to guide your approach:
The Town of Los Gatos is an interesting case study. In 2006, the Los Gatos School District adopted the asset framework to increase student connectedness. Over the next five years, the high school district and the entire community got involved. With the help of dedicated community leaders like 2009 Mayor Mike Wasserman and Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Chief Scott Seaman, businesses, churches, and all youth programs got involved. Over 17,000 adults signed an asset pledge to support youth development. The Youth Commission created a Youth Friendly Business Campaign. Parents coordinated community “read-ins” to learn about service learning and about the importance of “stopping at every lemonade stand.”
The impact on middle school students in Los Gatos was dramatic:
- Students in the developmental asset “thriving zone” (31-40 assets) rose from 19% to 35% from 2006 to 2011.
- Students most “at-risk” or “vulnerable” (1 – 20 assets) decreased from 42% to 21% from 2006 to 2011.
- Students reporting a caring school climate rose from 34% to 56%.
- Risk behavior dropped in every measurable category.
The success in Los Gatos reflects the impact that intentional efforts by youth and adults can have to change lives! We are taking these lessons on the road to other communities to help them shape their strategy.