NCFL and Search Institute partner to strengthen relationships in the lives of youth

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) has been selected to partner with Search Institute to co-create and test innovative ways to strengthen the relationships that young people in marginalized communities experience in their schools, programs, and families.

NCFL will work closely with Search Institute to examine young people’s experiences of family relationships, focusing on ways these relationships help young people learn, grow, and thrive. We will also work together to design and test strategies and tools to be more intentional and inclusive in building relationships with and among young people. During the three-year project, collaboration, examination, and testing will take place in concert with longtime NCFL partner, the Toberman Neighborhood Center in San Pedro, California. Tools and strategies that are found to be most valuable will be disseminated more broadly.

color-ROI logoTitled the Relationships for Outcomes Initiative (ROI), this three-year effort grows out of extensive research on the power of relationships by Search Institute and others. This research shows that young people who experience “developmental relationships” in their lives experience better outcomes, including being more motivated in school, avoiding high-risk behaviors, developing social-emotional competencies, and other signs of thriving.

Search Institute has created a Framework of Developmental Relationships,[1] which is relevant for parent-youth relationships, student-teacher relationships, mentoring relationships, peer relationships, and relationships between youth and out-of-school-time program leaders. The framework identifies five key elements of relationships that contribute to young people’s development:

  1. Express care—Show me that I matter to you.
  2. Challenge growth—Push me to keep getting better.
  3. Provide support—Help me complete tasks and achieve goals.
  4. Share power—Treat me with respect and give me a say.
  5. Expand possibilities—Connect me with people and places that broaden my world.

NCFL is excited to join forces with Search Institute to create strategies and tools that support organizations in helping to strengthen relationships with and among young people and families, particularly those who are marginalized in society.

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[1] See