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Positive Outcomes

One of the core principles of positive youth development is an orientation toward positive outcomes. Instead of a single-minded focus on preventing or fixing problems, we aim to build skills and competencies.

What do young people need to learn to fulfill their unique potential and have positive meaning in their lives? Over the past three decades, several frameworks have been promoted: Circle of Courage, Ready by 21, 40 Developmental Assets, and more. Although the language varies, these models all address similar skills and qualities.

The 6 Cs model for conceptualizing positive outcomes was developed and researched by many scholars and practitioners, among them Karen Pittman [1] and Richard Lerner [2]. This framework provides us with vocabulary to describe what young people need to succeed.

  • Competence: the ability to act effectively in a range of settings, including social, emotional, cognitive, cultural, health, academic, vocational, and civic domains.
  • Confidence: a sense of overall self-worth, mastery, and efficacy; awareness of making progress in life and having expectations for the future; belief in one's ability to make a meaningful contribution.
  • Connection: a sense of belonging, positive bonds with people and social institutions; being protected and having basic needs met.
  • Character: respect for society and cultural rules; an inner moral compass; taking responsibility and being accountable.
  • Caring/Compassion: a sense of sympathy and empathy for others, a commitment to social justice.
  • Contribution: active participation and leadership, bringing about positive change in self, family, social, and civic life.

Learn more about Positive Youth Outcomes — 6 Cs.

Young people develop these qualities when they are engaged in supportive, developmentally challenging relationships and experiences, and positive, developmental environments — particularly when these resources and settings are linked, providing a network of safety and support.


  1. Pittman, K. J., Irby, M., Tolman, J., Yohalem, N., Ferber, T. (2003). Preventing problems, promoting development, encouraging engagement: Competing priorities or inseparable goals? Forum for Youth Investment.

  2. Lerner, R. M., Lerner, J. V., et al. (2013, December). The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. National 4-H Council.