Minnesota Alliance with Youth

The Five Promises

Children who receive at least four of the developmental assets known as the Five Promises are much more likely than those who experience only one or fewer to succeed academically, socially and civically. They are more likely to avoid violence, contribute to their communities, and achieve high grades in school.

Receiving at least four of the Five Promises also appears to mitigate gaps across racial and economic boundaries.

To experience the full power of the Promises, young people must experience these critical supports throughout their lives – in their families, at schools, and in their communities.


Ongoing relationships with caring adults – parents, mentors, tutors, or coaches.

Communities need to provide all young people with sustained adult relationships through which they experience support, care, guidance, and advocacy. Caring and connectedness within and beyond the family are found to be powerful factors in protecting young people from negative behaviors and in encouraging good social skills, responsible values, and positive identity.

Tutor looking as young girl writes

Ideally, youth develop sustained connections with:

  • Parents or other caregivers.
  • Extended family members.
  • Neighbors and other adults who youth see in their daily lives.
  • Adults who spend time with youth through schools and programs, including coaches, teachers, mentors, childcare workers, youth workers, and employers.

While all these relationships are important, most youth do not experience this web of adult support and care beyond their families.

For resources about Caring Adults, visit the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota.


Safe places with structured activities during non-school hours.

Young people need structure, and they need to be physically and emotionally safe. Providing safe places and structured activities has many benefits both to young people and society. This promise can:

  • Connect youth to principled and caring adults.
  • Nurture young people’s skills and capacities, including social skills, vocational interests, and civic responsibility.
  • Protect youth from violence and other dangerous or negative influences.
  • Create a peer group that exerts positive influence on each other.
  • Provide opportunities for children and youth to contribute to their community and society.
  • Enrich young people’s academic performance and educational commitment.

For resources about Safe Places, visit the Search Institute.


Healthy start and future.

To many, “a healthy start” means what children need before they start school: prenatal care, immunizations, and school readiness. While these early years are crucial, we must also think about this promise more broadly — as “a healthy start” for adulthood.

Boy intent on work

The following are necessary to ensure that children grow up healthy:

  • Accessible and affordable health insurance, which covers immunizations, regular checkups, eye, ear and dental exams, and treatment of illness.
  • Health education focusing on risk behaviors such as violence and alcohol, drug and tobacco use.
  • Adequate nutrition and exercise.

For resources about A Healthy Start, visit the Minnesota Department of Health.


Marketable skills through effective education.

Employers increasingly need workers who can think, learn new skills rapidly, work in teams, and solve problems creatively. Making a successful transition from school to work is a critical milestone in the development journey.

There are many important qualities, skills, and competencies that young people need to be successful and productive workers:

  • A foundation in basic skills such as reading, writing, mathematics, science, technology, and communication.
  • Thinking skills such as creativity, decision-making, problem-solving, and reasoning.
  • Personal attitudes and qualities such as integrity, responsibility, and self-motivation.

Particular supports are needed including school reform efforts (to ensure that students are engaged in relevant, challenging, and interesting learning) and education about economics and business, internships, work study, vocational and career counseling, and on-the-job experience that expose them to career opportunities and job skills.

For resources about Effective Education, visit the Minnesota Department of Education.


Opportunities to give back through community service.

It’s time to see young people as part of the solution, not as the problem. Yet even though youth are more likely to volunteer than adults, fewer than half of all youth consistently serve others. A result is that they miss this powerful opportunity for growth.

Volunteers painting

Giving children and adolescents opportunities to serve others is an important strategy in shaping America’s future. Though school-based community service has received the most attention, there are many different avenues through which youth can contribute to their community.

  • Religious congregations
  • Neighborhood teams
  • Service clubs
  • Family volunteering
  • Youth organizations
  • Schools

Promoting service as a lifelong commitment is enhanced when youth participate at many ages, through multiple avenues, and when opportunity is given to reflect on the act of service — hence, the term service-learning.

An emerging body of research suggests that service-learning experiences enhance self-esteem, a sense of personal competence and efficacy, engagement with school, and social responsibility for others.