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FAQ Corner: The Positive Youth Development Model

The PYD Model

The Positive Youth Development Model (PYD) is a theoretical framework that focus on the principles of inclusivity and strength-building (Hamilton, et al) in order to harness traits that will help youth become successful. Positive traits such as resilience, social competence, decision-making, and self-efficacy can all be fostered through PYD in order to better equip youth for independent living, which is exactly why so many youth programs and organizations are beginning to utilize the framework in their practice (Shek, Dou, et al).

Defining the Fundamentals

The Positive Youth Development Model (PYD), in its simplicity, focuses on four basic influences of youth development: Agency, Assets, Environment, and Contribution. While all of these categories can contain negative aspects, they also contain the ability for youth to have positive experiences and flourish in the face of adversity.


Agency, by definition, is an exertion of power (Merriam-Webster). Youth must be able to exert power over the skills they have in order to best employ them, without fear of retribution. This also pertains to personal motivation, some students do have the ability to display their skills but lack the motivation. Motivation falls under this category as well.


Youth are provided with, or able to obtain, the assets they need to excel. These assets consist of any resources or skills they may need to achieve their goals. Common assets for youth are a high school education, leadership skill-building, financial education, etc.


Youth best flourish when surrounded by an environment that supports and enhances their skills and agency. A person who feels supported and has the appropriate resources will go much further than someone who must fight for these comforts.


Youth who are able and encouraged to interact with their community in a positive way gather a sense of belonging and control over their own environment. When people have a secure sense of belonging, they are more able to take pride in the things they do.

How is PYD a Positive Framework?

The Positive Youth Development Framework was actually developed in the 1990s in order to directly negate youth rehabilitation frameworks of the time that would capitalize on identifying the person's weaknesses as a means for treatment. Instead, PYD works by identifying a person's strengths in order to develop the best plan of action for the youth's road to success (Hamilton, et al).

By working with organizations that employ PYD (or simply amazing family and friends) teens can build on these strengths by working with the four fundamental aspects: agency, assets, environment, and contribution.

Another empowering aspect of PYD is its universality: if PYD is made to help all youth, then there is no stigma for those who need help.

This takes away the stigma for our youth who may be underserved, LGBTQ+, mentally ill, or apart of another population that may need more assistance than others because everyone is benefitting.

How Does HHYC use PYD?

HHYC works to incorporate PYD strategies into our programs and services in order to best serve our youth population. By allowing our youth a sense of leadership and individuality, we hope to assist them in identifying their strengths and becoming comfortable with who they are.

HHYC aims to create programs that are exclusively client-led. We allow our Displacement Assistance and Prevention Clients to shop for their own needs, our Affordable Tutoring students have ample independent study time and opportunities to pick their subject matter, and we are currently working to open a market-style Food Pantry for clients to create their own food boxes!

HHYC has found that by allowing our youth clients to lead the way, we are able to uncover so much about their strengths and how we can better assist them!

So...Run That by Me Again?

Long story short...the nerd in me could go on about the Postive Youth Development Model ALL DAY. There is so much information to be discussed on PYD and its perks for local youth, but I won't do that to you. What I will say is that PYD is a great framework that has recently been being used more and more by youth organizations hoping to lead their young population towards a brighter future. Instead of focusing on weaknesses, PYD concentrates on all of those amazing qualities our youth have been given!

You don't even have to be apart of a youth organization to embody the values of PYD. Parents can work with their own children to achieve assets, agency, environment, and contribution FROM HOME! To read more on how to embody PYD from your home, click here (link to come).

HHYC works to exhibit the qualities of PYD in all of our daily work, but the Positive Youth Development Model is SO expansive that we are taking it in stride.



Positive Youth Development. YouthPower. (n.d.). Retrieved January 17, 2023, from

Hamilton, S. F., Hamilton, M. A., & Pittman, K. (n.d.). Principles for Youth Development - Cornell University. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from

Shek, D. T., Dou, D., Zhu, X., & Chai, W. (2019, September 18). Positive youth development: Current perspectives. Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Agency definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from

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