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Copyright © 2007, Search Institute


How Do You Bring Out the Power
in Young People?


See the Table of Contents

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How do you encourage young people to do their best? Create an environment ripe for their leadership? Ensure that they can safely experiment and succeed in developing stronger skills and confidence?

Empowering Youth answers those questions and more. It’s a hands-on guide to developing what is best in young people: their vision, creative power, and drive to make the world an inclusive, sustainable place for themselves and future generations. You’ll find many suggestions for advising and supporting kids of all ages as they spread their wings, including the following:

  • Nineteen youth and adult activities that provide community initiatives and organizations with ways to get started in youth empowerment.
  • First hand accounts from youth and adults around the world who offer insight, advice, and best practices.
  • Five thought-provoking checklists designed to get groups thinking about how they support youth empowerment.
  • Motivating tips and anecdotes showing adults how they can empower youth every day.
  • Research that demonstrates the value of taking this approach.

• Empowering Youth specifically addresses the four empowerment assets in an engaging style, with dozens of true examples that point readers toward doable strategies for empowering young people in their own communities.
• Offers ideas for youth workers and educators.
• Focuses on the development of the Empowerment assets in young people.
• Provides the opportunities and means for youth to genuinely serve others.
• Helps young people feel safe enough to grow into confident leaders.

Special Features

Current research and checklists for each chapter, to gauge how well your community or organization is already building each empowerment asset. Each chapter also includes at least five activities to facilitate with youth and/or adults to build on the empowerment assets. Some activities are geared for communities and organizations new to the concept of youth empowerment, while others help individuals and groups enrich current youth empowerment and participation.


Kelly Curtis

Kelly Curtis, M.S., is a school counselor, writer, speaker, and believer in the power of the Developmental Asset approach. She is the founder of Empowering Youth, Inc., which publishes positive youth development curricula, including the SPARK Peer Tutoring Handbook and Training Manual, and Hidden Treasure of Assets and Career Expedition board games. Kelly writes regularly about her experiences with children, parenthood, and family travel on her Web log, Pass the Torch.
Kelly's web site:

Book Review

Posted: April 13, 2009
"This book is not full of self-esteem mumbo-jumbo, that new philosophy with a focus on a largely inflated and empty esteem. No, in this book Kelly Curtis uses the four empowerment assets. . ." —Jennifer,


Posted: Tuesday, April 7 2009
"The book itself is a succinct, easy to read guide that suggests very practical hands-on tips for cultivating the best in young people. The book supports the Developmental Assets approach that has been working its way into communities and schools over the last decade or so. After only reading a few pages, I decided the book is a resource that needed to be given to each of the adult mentors for the newly formed youth council." —Laura Smith, Community Coordinator, Snoqualmie Valley Community Network

Posted: Friday, September 19 2008
"As a School Counselor and mother of three, I believe it is vital that parents, educators and others in the community help children become strong, confident, compassionate leaders. Though I admit this is no easy task. It takes patience, persistence and plenty of tools. That’s why I am pleased to share with you a new book by a fellow School Counselor, Kelly Curtis."

Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2008 11:27 p.m. by misterteacher
"Throughout this well-written and fascinating book, Curtis explains how important it is that kids be given opportunities to thrive, and she gives examples of situations where youths have led projects, founded charities, and contributed memorably to their communities."


Susan Carney, Sep 7, 2008,
"One of the most appealing aspects of Curtis' book is that it is full of inspiring, real-life examples of kids who are making a difference, and that support and encouragement that helped them get there. Curtis goes beyond explaining why it is vital to enhance leadership skills in teens; she actually provides a blueprint on how to get there from where you are now."
Read more..

Kelly Curtis in Action

Kelly is a highly-involved school counselor and supporter of empowering young people to do great things. She is the founder of Empowering Youth, a company committed to providing quality, effective, hands-on products for educators and others who work with youth.

Don't miss out on the hot topics people have been talking about! Check out Kelly's blog,
Pass the Torch

Girlfriendology interviews KELLY CURTIS, author of “Empowering Youth”
Listen in and

Kelly Around Town



“Gives professionals a practical guide for countering the negative effects of entitlement and allowing kids to develop a sense of worth that will last them a lifetime.”

—Dave Funk, educator and Love and Logic consultant


“Empowering Youth . . . gives even the most seasoned youth advocacy worker a solid dose of inspiration, and reminds readers of the true value of youth participation in creating positive social change.”

—Deborah Reber, author of In Their Shoes: Extraordinary Women Describe Their Amazing Careers


Age does not yield superiority; passion and love put everyone on an equal playing field.

—Lisa Silverman, 17, Centennial High School, Ellicott City, Maryland