What Is Contribution?

A youth’s capacity to give energy and time to help their family, community and society.

Why Does Contribution Matter?

Increases in contribution are key to developing an individual’s positive purpose as well as positive societal movement. Contribution has been correlated with higher grade point averages and standardized test scores, fewer suspensions and expulsions, and improved social development (Lerner, et al., 2006).

How Can Programs Boost Contribution?

Prioritize Young People: Express to youth often that you expect them to try hard and do their best.

Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Engagement: Make sure your program includes opportunities for youth to work together in groups with other youth they’ve never met.

Coach Young People to Set and Achieve Their Goals: Help youth set personal goals and create plans to complete them. Encourage youth to take risks and push themselves and try activities/projects, especially when something was hard.

To Watch

To Read

  • Bustle | “12-Year-Old Marley Dias Is Publishing An Activism Guide For Children And Teens”: http://ow.ly/m7hd309GQCf 
  • The Girl Scouts | Challenge & Change: Tips & Strategies for Girl-Led Change In Rural Communities: http://bit.ly/2h4vxTK 
  • New York Times | “The Youth Group That Launched a Movement at Standing Rock”: http://ow.ly/hMQE309GGwD 
  • Stanford News | “Sense of youthful purpose driven by action, passion, says Stanford researcher”: http://ow.ly/a3KD309Uybk 
  • UNICEF | Children’s Participation: From Tokenism To Citizenship (Roger A. Hart): http://bit.ly/2oGwPWj 


  • Center for Nonprofits & 4-H Youth Development | Being Y-AP Savvy: A Primer on Creating & Sustaining Youth-Adult Partnerships: http://bit.ly/2y8MCQp  
  • SOAR | Multicultural Youth Leadership Curriculum: http://ow.ly/OalQ309U3IV 
  • The Innovation Center | “Tools & Activities to Foster Youth-Adult Partnerships”: http://ow.ly/IYrR309GULG 
  • John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities | YELL: A Handbook for Program Staff, Teachers, and Community Leaders: http://stanford.io/2eY94TW 

Associated Research

 Lerner, R.M., Lerner, J.V., Almerigi, J.B., Theokas, C., Phelps, E., Gestsdottir, S., … & von Eye, A. (2005). Positive youth development, participation in community youth development programs, and community contributions of fifth-grade adolescents: Findings from the first wave of the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. Journal of Early Adolescence, 25, 17-71.

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