S.T.A.R.S. is situated within a positive youth development framework (Benson & Saito, 2000; Catalano et al., 2004; Damon, 2004; Kurtines et al., 2008). Positive youth development (PYD) asserts a belief in the ability of all youth to live thriving lives; according to Small and Memmo (2004, p. 7), positive youth development is based on the following:

  • Helping youth achieve their full potential is the best way to prevent them from experiencing problems.
  • Youth need to experience a set of supports and opportunities to succeed.
  • Communities need to mobilize and build capacity to support the positive development of youth.
  • Youth should not be viewed as problems to be fixed, but as partners to be engaged and developed.

Therefore, in order for youth to take action and reach success, social support systems that reinforce their potential, build competence (i.e., social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and moral), and promote positive connections with adults and peers are needed. As such, S.T.A.R.S. supports “asset building” among youth and values their strengths at the individual, family, and community level. Lessons integrate character, confidence, a sense of caring, competence, and connections with peers and adults to promote positive development and success among youth.


Benson, P. L., & Saito, R. N. (2000). The scientific foundations of youth development.  Retrieved from SearchInstitute.

Catalano, R. F., Berglund, M. L., Ryan, J. A., Lonczak, H. S., & Hawkins, J. D. (2004). Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs.  Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591, 98 – 124.

Damon, W. (2004). What is positive youth development? The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591(1), 186-201.

Kurtines, W. M., Ferrer-Wreder, L., Berman, S. L., Lorente, C., Silverman, W. K., & Montgomery, M. J. (2008). Promoting positive youth development: New directions in developmental theory, methods and research.  Journal of Adolescent Research, 23 (3), 245 – 255.