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Youth Thrive

Opportunities into action

What We Work For

Youth Thrive believes that all young people should be valued, loved, and supported to reach their goals. To achieve this, Youth Thrive works with youth-serving systems and its partners to change policies, programs, and practices so that they build on what we know about adolescent development, value young people’s perspectives, and give youth opportunities to succeed.

Youth Thrive is both a research-informed Framework on youth well-being and an action-oriented Initiative, based on the framework, that is designed to better support healthy development and promote well-being for youth with partners across the country.

For the past eight years, Youth Thrive has focused on strategies to improve systems that serve youth who are most marginalized in society, specifically focusing on child welfare and juvenile justice systems and the service system that supports youth who are at-risk of homelessness.  

To get new resources and updates on Youth Thrive activities, sign up for the Youth Thrive newsletter here.

How We Do It

Youth Thrive works with states and communities as well as national networks, and other partners on activities such as:

  • Helping public agencies amend their policies, practices, contracting processes, training of staff, so that they are aligned with what the research indicates youth need to thrive.
  • Identifying, documenting and sharing best practices and innovative ideas.
  • Developing and using training curriculum and materials for direct service staff, supervisors and youth.
  • Creating new strategies and tools to implement Youth Thrive including the new Youth Thrive Survey, a self-assessment for assessing youth’s strengths.
  • Bringing together leaders for peer-to-peer learning at national conferences and other forums.
  • Partnering with youth, young adults, and young professionals who have lived experience in child welfare and juvenile justice to make sure Youth Thrive values and reflects their perspectives.
  • Prioritizing equity in all Youth Thrive activities, for example by:
    • Including information and research on the impact of racism, discrimination, and bias on youth well-being in our training and materials.
    • Encouraging systems to look at and address the worse outcomes they produce for youth of color, LGBTQ+ youth, and expectant and parenting youth.

Youth Thrive is currently being implemented in multiple jurisdictions across the country and CSSP has been providing technical assistance and creating a learning network with six sites. These sites are working to integrate the Youth Thrive Framework into their agency and organization’s policies, programming, practice, contracts, and training of staff. Our agency partners in this leaning network include:  

 In addition, Youth Thrive also has special projects with Bravehearts in Westchester NY, working with young leaders on advocacy in the courtroom and aftercare services, and with Wyman Center in St. Louis, MO on training police officers and other community providers on Youth Thrive.

Youth Thrive’s approach includes:

Providing technical assistance to public youth-serving agencies on transforming their system so that it aligns with the research on adolescent development and the supports youth need to thrive.

Working on the ground in communities and in public agencies to provide training and technical assistance for the people who work most closely with youth. We  provide resources for families and foster parents, child welfare staff,  youth workers, and probation and police officers and help stakeholders understand and deliver what young people need to become healthy and productive adults.

 Providing opportunities for youth to become change agents in their communities and within public systems—working to reimagine policies and programs so that they reflect what youth need.

Advocating for national and state policies based on the latest research in adolescent development and programs that best assist young people.

Partnering with organizations and agencies across cities, regions, and states to advance understanding of the skills and supportive environments all youth need to thrive.

Building a network of champions by identifying leaders from programs that exemplify the values of Youth Thrive to serve as its ambassadors.

This mix of service and advocacy offers compelling examples of how to reframe the prevailing narrative about youth and create system changes to support the strengths and potential of all young people.

PLEASE NOTE: For our Youth Thrive trainers, please complete the Youth Thrive Training Report each time you lead a training.

Thousands of direct services workers, supervisors, advocates, and young people themselves have been trained on the Youth Thrive Framework and how to identify and support the growth of Protective and Promotive Factors in youth. Youth Thrive training has been held in dozens of states with representatives from hundreds of agencies and organizations working with young people in communities across the country.

Creating and spreading new training is a top priority for Youth Thrive as it is a critical first step in transforming practice. Practice changes can be supported and reinforced with additional Youth Thrive tools, resources, and related strategies that promote healthy adolescent development. Training helps all staff who have direct contact with young people—caseworkers, youth workers, supervisors, teachers, probation officers, service providers—learn about adolescence and how to apply new knowledge to their interactions with youth. 

For information on Youth Thrive Training options, please review our FAQ document that includes detailed descriptions of: 

There are three additional modules available to supplement Youth Thrive core content and can be used for workshops or professional development opportunities with youth services workers You can access these modules at the links below:

CSSP reviewed numerous research studies and findings on resilience, positive youth development, neuroscience, and trauma to come up with the Youth Thrive Framework. We synthesized information on what reduces the impact of negative life experiences and what increases the likelihood of healthy development, healing, and well-being and for all youth. Building on that research, the Youth Thrive Framework provides a clear and compelling way to think about what youth need in order to thrive.

The Framework applies to older children, teenagers, and young adults and is relevant to all youth between the ages of 9 and 26 years old The heart of the Framework is five Protective and Promotive Factors that mitigate risk and promote well-being:

  1. Youth Resilience: Managing stress and functioning well when faced with stress, challenges, or adversity.
  2. Social Connections: Having healthy, sustained relationships with people, places, communities, and a force greater than oneself that promote a sense of trust, belonging, and that one matters.
  3. Knowledge of Adolescent Development: Understanding the unique changes and assets of adolescence and implementing policies and practices that reflect a deep understanding of development.
  4. Concrete Support in Times of Need: Making sure youth receive quality, equitable, respectful services that meet their basic needs (health care, housing, education, nutrition, income), and teaching youth to ask for help and advocate for themselves.
  5. Cognitive and Social-Emotional Competence: Acquiring skills and attitudes that are essential for forming an independent, positive identity and having a productive and satisfying adulthood.

The Youth Thrive Theory of Change uses a garden analogy to show how young people need support to grow and thrive. The Theory of Change highlights our Key Values and the importance of increasing protective and promotive factors and reducing risk factors to achieve dynamic outcomes for youth. 

The Youth Thrive Survey™ is a valid and reliable youth self-report instrument that measures the presence, strength, and growth of the Youth Thrive Protective and Promotive Factors as proxy indicators of well-being. Designed with significant input from youth and young adults and taking less than 15 minutes to complete, the survey can be an effective tool for informing case planning and practice, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement (CQI) purposes. The Youth Thrive Survey is free and provides an array of data reports that can be used to inform policy and practice decisions, and measure positive indicators of well-being for youth and young adults. The Youth Thrive Survey is available in both English and Spanish. Learn more in our one-pager.

Existing Survey participants may log in here

Click here to access the Youth Thrive Survey User Manual. Find a tip sheet for youth-serving professionals to understand the relevance of the Youth Thrive Survey and how it can best help young people.

Click here to view a tutorial on using the Survey Instrument for Organizational Admin. 

If you have any questions about the Youth Thrive Survey, or need support, please complete the questionnaire to request assistance.

To obtain a log in, please click one of the following links:

Organizational User Registration


Independent User Registration


The purpose of this Coaching Tool is to give supervisors key questions, guidance, and ideas about how to help workers assess and support Protective and Promotive Factors with youth. It reinforces and puts into action the Youth Thrive Framework and training content. See the sidebar (to the right on this page) for guidance on using the Coaching Tool and other related materials.

Click here to access the Coaching Tool.

The Youth Thrive Blueprint is:

  • practice resource for youth-serving agencies and organizations to advance the well-being of young people—ages 9-26 years.
  • Full of actionable ideas and tools to build young people’s strengths and Protective and Promotive Factors.
  • Developed with a focus on young people in foster care and relevant to other settings such as: afterschool and community-based youth programs, juvenile court systems, programs for young people experiencing homelessness.
  • For any person who wants to promote thriving in young people.

Access the Youth Thrive Blueprint here.

This page is restricted to Youth Thrive 4 Youth trainers. Click here to access the password protected portal.


Our Experts

Leonard Burton 3

Leonard Burton

President and Chief Executive Officer
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Kaysie Getty

Senior Program Analyst
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Lisa Mishraky-Javier

Senior Associate
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Martha Raimon 23

Martha L. Raimon

Senior Associate
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Francie Zimmerman

Senior Associate
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