The Rhode Island Teen Institute: Positive Youth Development in Practice


  • Robert Apsler Social Science Research & Evaluation, Inc.
  • Sandra Puerini Del Sesto Initiatives for Human Development
  • Scott W. Formica Social Science Research & Evaluation, Inc.
  • Maureen Mulligan Initiatives for Human Development



This article describes the application of the positive youth development approach to promote and enhance leadership skills among middle and high school age peer leaders. The article reviews the goals of the positive youth development approach and describes how this approach was adopted and implemented by the Rhode Island Teen Institute (RITI), a comprehensive, residential prevention program founded in 1989. Data are presented from pretests and posttests administered during each of seven annual Institutes delivered between 2002 and 2009 with 775 youth. Participants in the RITI demonstrated significant gains in their leadership skills; an effect that persisted at a 3-month follow-up survey administered with high school age youth. Other significant findings and anecdotal effects are also discussed, such as creation by RITI graduates of a youth-led prevention program for elementary and middle school children.






Program & Practice Articles