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ACT for Youth

Positive Youth Development 101 (Manual)

The Positive Youth Development 101 curriculum offers an orientation to the youth development approach for professionals new to the field of youth work. Use this free curriculum -- ACT for Youth's most popular resource -- to provide professional development to new youth workers, supervisors and administrators, funders, and community volunteers.

The 12-hour curriculum is structured in five distinct sections, each of which may be presented as a stand-alone workshop:

  1. Positive Youth Development: theoretical underpinnings and key principles of positive youth development; brief review of adolescent development
  2. Positive Youth Outcomes: positive outcomes and strategies to build these outcomes
  3. Youth Voice and Engagement: opportunities for meaningful engagement; overcoming adultism
  4. Youth Development Programming: features of effective youth development settings and youth-centered learning approaches
  5. Youth Worker Competencies: competency frameworks, boundaries, and ethical dilemmas
This training builds upon the New York State Advancing Youth Development (AYD) project, which provided professional development for youth workers from 1998 through 2011. Drawing on an experiential learning model, the curriculum uses a range of small and large group activities to allow for active participation, discussion, and reflection, in combination with short lectures, informative handouts, and web-based resources.

Originally developed in 2015, the PYD 101 curriculum was updated with new content and resources by Jutta Dotterweich in 2021. New content includes:

  • Developmental Relationships (2.4)
  • Inclusive Program Environments and taking a trauma-informed approach to programming (4.2)
  • Deconstructing Biases (5.2)

Download Curriculum

Download the curriculum, activity worksheets, handouts, and slides below. Pre- and post-tests and a feedback form are also provided. To download handouts and activity worksheets individually, see Section Handouts and Activities below.

Positive Youth Development 101
Activity Worksheets: full set
Handouts: full set (English)
Slides (PowerPoint)
Training Feedback Form (Word)

Section 1 Handouts and Activities

1.2 Research That Supports Youth Development

1.3 Stages of Adolescent Development (English)
1.3 Stages of Adolescent Development (Spanish)
1.3 Section 1: Resources & References

Section 2 Handouts and Activities

2.1 Positive Youth Outcomes - 6 Cs (English)
2.1 Positive Youth Outcomes (Spanish)
2.1 Section 2: Resources & References

2.2 Services, Opportunities, Supports - The SOS Framework

2.3 Sparks Peer-to-Peer Interview
2.3 Strength-Based Information Gathering
2.3 Sparks Interview Questions

2.4 Simple Interactions Tool (English and Spanish)
2.4 Developmental Relationships Framework (English and Spanish)

Section 3 Handouts and Activities

3.1 Meaningful Roles

3.2 Youth in Decision Making

3.3 Section 3: Resources & References
3.3 Worksheet: Framework for Understanding Adultism
3.3 Framework for Understanding Adultism
3.3 Adultism Scenarios

Section 4 Handouts and Activities

4.1 Features of Positive Developmental Settings
4.1 Resources: NRC Features of Positive Developmental Settings
4.1 Agency Climate Bingo

4.2 Scaffolding Overview
4.2 Positive and Corrective Feedback
4.2 Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"
4.2 Section 4: Resources & References

4.3 Engaging Youth: Planning Activities
4.3 Consensus - Action Planning
4.3 Engaging Youth: Reflection Activities
4.3 Experiential Education & the Experiential Learning Cycle
4.3 Reflective Group Conversation
4.3 Open-Ended Questions
4.3 Gardner's Multiple Intelligences
4.3 Collaborative Learning
4.3 Reflection Cube from Step It Up 2 Thrive

Section 5 Handouts and Activities

5.1 Section 5: Resources & References

5.3 Dilemma: Youth in Charge, but Falling Behind


Positive Youth Development 101 was developed by Jutta Dotterweich of ACT for Youth, in collaboration with the NYS 4-H State Office, the NYS 4-H Educator Association, the Risk and Thriving in Adolescence Program Work Team, and several youth development consultants and former trainers of the NYS AYD partnership. Its purpose is to increase the knowledge and skills of new youth work professionals, establish a common language among youth work professionals, and advance a youth development network in New York State.

This curriculum development and training project is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Smith Lever project 2012-13-272.