What Is Social Capital?

A youth’s positive bonds with people who can provide advice, counsel and access to what they need to succeed.

Why Does Social Capital Matter?

Social capital is considered important for building a youth’s support network and sense of belonging within their environment (Benson, 2008; McLaughlin, 2000; Mishook, et al., 2012).

How Can Programs Boost Social Capital?

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

  • Connected Learning Alliance | GeekOut Interview - “Power Brokers: Building Youth Social Capital through Connected Learning”: https://vimeo.com/160306564 
  • TEDxWilmington | Sadhana Pasricha - “Social Capital - The Critical Assets for Success”: http://bit.ly/2wc5a4M 

To Read

  • 4H Center for Youth Development | Social Capital & Implications for Positive Youth Development: http://ow.ly/fTRL30aqb0X 
  • ACT For Youth Upstate Center of Excellence | Social Capital & the Well-Being of Youth: http://ow.ly/7bNV30aq8Hu 
  • Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring | "A conversation with Professor Bernadette Sanchez": http://ow.ly/7ge530aq8Bx 
  • Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring | "Robert Putnum on Why Mentors Matter" http://ow.ly/N33V30aq8zK 
  • Hive Research Lab | On-Ramps, Lane Changes, Detours and Destinations: Building Connected Learning Pathways in Hive NYC through Brokering Future Learning Opportunities: http://bit.ly/1VRJn5y 


  • University of Maryland Extension | “Increasing Social Capital through Culturally Relevant Positive Youth Development”: http://bit.ly/2f7D7fU 

Associated Research

Mishook, J., Gurantz, O., Borsato, G. N., Hewitson, M., Martinez, M., McGinnis, E., et al. (2012). College readiness indicator. Providence, RI: Annenberg Institute, Brown University.

McLaughlin, M. W. (2000). Community Counts: How Youth Organizations Matter for Youth Development.

 Benson, P.L. (2008). Sparks: How parents can ignite the hidden strengths of your teenagers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

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