Integrating Positive Youth Development: Insights From International Youth Development Programming

John E. Lindsay, Shannon McGarry, Assem Satmukhambetova, Katie Raymond, Arafat Lesheve, Sarah Jonson, Hafez Neeno, Cheradee Williams


Effective international youth development programs go beyond single-issue interventions—they leverage the entire organization and project life cycle to advance positive youth outcomes. This paper illustrates how positive youth development (PYD) approaches can be adapted for and applied by organizations to promote positive outcomes for young people and communities globally. The article provides 6 insights from the International Youth Foundation’s (IYF) application of PYD principles across diverse youth development programs. Moreover, the authors present practical insights into what is required by practitioners, regardless of geographic boundaries, to effectively engage with, support, and meet the needs of youth and young adults whom they serve. Finally, the article argues that practitioners and funders need to find new ways to measure and value PYD investments and that funders need to make PYD integral across their funding streams.


youth engagement; cross-sectoral outcomes; positive youth development (PYD); systems-based approaches; capacity building

Full Text:



Alvarado, G., Skinner, M., Plaut, D., Moss, C., Kapungu, C., & Reavley, N. (2017). A systematic review of positive youth development programs in low-and middle-income countries. YouthPower Learning, Making Cents International.

Burkhard, B. M., Robinson, K. M., Murray, E. D., & Lerner, R. M. (2020). Positive youth development: Theory and perspective. In S. Hupp and J. Jewell (Eds.), The encyclopedia of child and adolescent development.

Hart, R., 1992. Children's participation. UNICEF International Child Development Centre.

Lee, T. Y., Cheung, C. K., & Kwong, W. M. (2012). Resilience as a positive youth development construct: A conceptual review. The Scientific World Journal, Article ID 390450, 1-9.

Lerner, R. M., Lerner J. V., & Colleagues. (2016). The positive development of youth: Comprehensive findings from the 4-H study of positive youth development. Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University.

Sanders, J., Munford, R., Thimasarn-Anwar, T., Liebenberg, L., & Ungar, M. (2015). The role of positive youth development practices in building resilience and enhancing wellbeing for at-risk youth. Child Abuse & Neglect, 42, 40-53.

Ward, R. L., Carter, T., & Siddiq, N. (2019). The role of positive youth development, educational policy, and cultural relevancy in school settings. EJournal of Public Affairs.

YouthPower2. (n.d.). Positive youth development (PYD) framework. Retrieved September 10, 2020, from


Copyright (c) 2021 John E. Lindsay, Shannon McGarry, Assem Satmukhambetova, Katie Raymond, Arafat Lesheve, Sarah Jonson, Hafez Neeno, Cheradee Williams

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.