OWR> Organizational Paths
Institute: Purpose, Adherents and History
Search Institute focuses on
acquiring psychology based research on youth and applying that
research to change society. The goal is to set the
standard requirements for raising and teaching children and
youth to become active members of Society. The Institute
originally targeted religious groups, but now works with
religious as well as a myriad of secular and government
organizations, all with the goal of setting the acceptable and
"Search Institute was
founded in 1958 by Dr. Merton P. Strommen as an applied
social science research organization focused on the healthy
development of young people. The institute originally
focused on research regarding youth in religious settings;
this mission has evolved to a broad focus on the healthy
development of all children and youth in multiple settings
in community and society. Dr. Strommen was succeeded in 1985
by current president Dr. Peter L. Benson...With major
corporate support from Lutheran Brotherhood, a financial
services organization that serves Lutherans, their
institutions, and their communities, the institute launched
in 1996 the Healthy Communities • Healthy Youth
initiative. From 1997 to 2000, Search Institute partnered
with The Colorado Trust to launch Assets for Colorado Youth,
which sought to mobilize the citizens and organizations of
Colorado for asset building. In October 2000, Assets for
Colorado Youth became an independent, Colorado-based,
nonprofit organization..." http://www.search-institute.org/aboutsearch/
"Search Institute is
a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. It is supported by
grants and contracts from foundations, corporations, and
government agencies, proceeds from the sales of products and
services, and tax-deductible contributions from individuals
and organizations. The institute’s annual budget is
approximately $9 million."
Search Institute's Funders :
Main contributors included:
The Kansas Health Foundation ; Lutheran Brotherhood; The
Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic
organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur
for whom it is named. Reynolds was the founder and principal
owner of the Donrey Media Group.
Other and Including
Annie E. Casey Foundation; Best Buy; The Colorado Trust ;
General Mills; Jostens Our Town Foundation; The Lilly
Endowment; The McKnight Foundation; National Association
of Partners in Education; National Mentoring Partnership; Otto
Bremer Foundation; RGK Foundation; The Stewardship Foundation;
3M; The Thrive Foundation for Youth; William T. Grant
Foundation; Pillsbury; Reliastar; Time Warner/Paragon Cable.
The Search Institute Mission
includes the following:
Search Institute is an independent, nonprofit, nonsectarian
organization whose mission is to advance the well-being
of adolescents and children by generating knowledge and
promoting its application. To accomplish this mission, the
institute generates, synthesizes, and communicates new
knowledge, convenes organizational and community leaders,
and works with state and national organizations.
At the heart of the
institute’s work is the framework of 40 developmental
assets, which are positive experiences, relationships,
opportunities, and personal qualities that young people need
to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Created in
1990, the framework is grounded in research on child and
adolescent development, risk prevention, and resiliency. Surveys
of more than 1 million 6th - 12th-grade youth in
communities across the United States consistently show that
young people who experience more of these assets are more
likely to make healthy choices and avoid a wide range of
high-risk behaviors." http://www.search-institute.org/aboutsearch/
The 40 Developmental Assets
Survey is composed of 156 questions, including questions which
probe personal information and “ask about your
parents." The survey is administered to students in the
public schools and in church youth groups with the collected
data tabulated at Search’s Minnesota Headquarters.
Washington state, and many more, are utilizing the Search
Developmental Asset Surveys in the public schools in
co-operation with the state's WA Family Policy Council and its
related Community Health and Safety Networks at the local
level. These agencies were set up as part of GOALS 2000 /
Educate America [Public Law 103-227, 1994]. They will serve to
facilitate the Community Partnership Program -- 'promoting the
development of an integrated system of service delivery to
children' by facilitating linkages and cooperation among
(lists community shareholders' including): churches,
synagogues and other religious institutions'"
Paul Fleischmann, executive director of the National Network
of Youth Ministries, and other heads of many other
religious organizations, are on Search Institute's board which
oversees church-related youth development. Fleischmann is
also a member of The Call, D.C. Board of Directors. The
Project which Fleichmann is involved in is called: Uniting
Congregations for Youth Development, which has a National
Advisory Committee. http://www.search-institute.org/congregations/committee.htm
Some of the many members
include UN affiliated groups to ecumenical organizations.
Director, Kingdom Works
Jonathan Cohen Director, Jr./Sr. High School Youth
Programming Union of American Hebrew Congregations
Director, Religious Affairs Children's Defense Fund (which
works with the UN)
Kenda Creasy Dean
Youth Ministry Institute Princeton Theological Seminary (a
member of ATS)
Director, Religious Education Boy's Town
Boy's Town, NE
Executive Director National Network of Youth Ministries
San Diego, CA
Assistant Director Department of Youth Activities United
Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Associate Director of the Commission on Family
Ministries and Human Sexuality National Council of
Coordinator of Youth Ministry Outreach National Baptist
Executive Director National Collaboration for Youth
Director National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
According to Search History:
".... 1983, Dr.
Strommen was awarded Fellow status in the American
Psychological Association, following his selection by
Division 36 to receive the William James Award for
career achievements in the psychology of religion.
...Lutheran Youth Research, as the organization was
originally known, initially focused on research regarding
Lutheran youth and was subsidized by the Lutheran youth
departments. The original statement of purpose was as
The purpose of this corporation shall be to conduct
religious research, with special reference to youth; publish findings; train students in such
research, its interpretation and use; and provide services
based upon the research...
In the mid-1960s, Mert shared half of his time with the
Association, an interfaith agency. This helped to
further broaden the mission to include all religious
institutions and introduced the organization to the full
spectrum of religious organizations in the country. As the
mission began to broaden beyond Lutheran youth, the
organization shifted to the name Church Youth Research in
1967. "...Doors opened when the organization entered
the marketplace of research and was no longer solely
identified with religious institutions. The institute gained
credibility and support from the U.S. government on youth
projects of national concern and interest.
In 1969, the organization
became Youth Research Center, a reflection of its broader
reach. This development required a revision of the original
statement of purpose:
The purpose of this corporation is to carry out research
with special reference to the concerns of religious
institutions; to test the effectiveness of educational
approaches which help young people grow up more meaningfully
in a fast-changing world; and to interpret the needs and
potential of youth, through home, church, school, synagogue,
In 1977, the name Search Institute was adopted. The reason
for the change related
again to the broadening mission of the organization. The
institute was being asked to do studies for colleges and
seminaries -high-powered institutions of the church that
tended not to be impressed with the title Youth Research
Center. The organization's commitment to youth issues
In 1997, Search Institute
embarked on a three-year strategic plan and adopted its
current mission statement:
Search Institute is an independent, nonprofit, nonsectarian
organization whose mission is to advance the well-being of
adolescents and children by generating knowledge and
promoting its application. Search Institute conducts
research and evaluation, develops publications and practical
tools, and provides training and technical assistance. The
institute collaborates with others to promote long-term
organizational and cultural change that supports the
healthy development of all children and adolescents.
Note re The Williams
"...The Council on Spiritual Practices (www.csp.org)
offers the William James Awards for masters' theses and
doctoral dissertations focusing on empirical studies of primary
religious experience and its consequences...The awards are
offered to encourage the scientific investigation of the
phenomenology, determinants, and facilitation of primary
religious or spiritual experiences. Equally of interest are
their consequences, individual and social. Primary religious
experiences are those involving direct perception of the
sacred, also called unitive, peak, and mystical
William James, a
psychologist and mystic, is discussed in our articles The
'god" In Every Man & also Pentecostal
Tongues and The "Inner Ecstasy"
A review of their History
reveals the many changes and directions of Search Institute,
showing involvement with government and government agencies,
secular organizations and ecumenical religious groups. The
data collected from children and youth contains personal and
private family information. Some of the Highlights
.... 1959 ...The survey
is administered to a random sample of youth and adults (2,000
of each) from 191 participating congregations.
Data from the study are printed out on tape at the University
of Minnesota; data are transferred to 50,000 Hollerith
cards with assistance from Lutheran Brotherhood. The data
are analyzed using card sorts and the results are shared in
eight reports authored by Merton Strommen.
Youth directors of the six church bodies form a policy
group to govern the release of the data nationally
and further the use of the Lutheran Youth Survey in
1960 ....Lutheran Brotherhood provides unprecedented use
of computer equipment, paper, and cards....
1961 ...First book is published: What Youth Are Thinking,
by Gordon Smedsrud.
1962 ....Survey service is now available to
1963 ...LYR begins to explore the possibility of other
denominations using the youth survey.
Thomas Nelson and Sons Publishers proposes a series of
books for Christian youth to be called the Youth Forum
Series, which results in a five-year contract.
Merton Strommen's first book, Profiles of Church Youth, is
1964 ...LYR's mission begins to broaden to other
denominational groups. The emergence of this ecumenical
approach makes LYR aware of the need to move away from the
Lutheran youth departments' subsidy and secure foundation
The Religious Education Association (REA) in New
York proposes that Merton Strommen share time with them as
research director for a period of about three years, which he
...Youth Counseling Seminars are introduced to train pastors
in the counseling use of individual profiles derived from the
Lutheran Youth Survey.
1965 ...First three books in the Youth Forum Series are
published by Thomas Nelson and Sons. Royalty income is
...Merton Strommen completes a paper establishing the
relationship between Christian theology and psychological
measurement. The paper serves as a means of clarifying how
the work of LYR could relate to the church and its mission,
and becomes an important reference...
Merton Strommen continues to
divide time between LYR and REA, which provides him the
opportunity to vastly broaden contacts and expand LYR's
mission far beyond
Endowment provides $50,000 for the Youth Ministry project. Elmer
Witt becomes co-director of the project with Merton Strommen.
Merton Strommen begins examining the historical
relationship between the psychological and sociological study
of religion for the publication Review of Research in
1967 ...LYR changes its name to Church Youth Research
(CYR) to reflect the interdenominational aspect of its
CYR develops a new computer program that allows reports for
the congregational survey service to be computer-generated
instead of handwritten, saving an enormous amount of
professional time and money....
1968-1984 Feast and Famine
1968... Hopes for funding rest on a proposal submitted
to the National Institute of Mental Health for the
Clergy-Youth Counseling Project. Proposal is approved,
with funding to begin April 1, 1969. ...
CYR receives invitation from Notre Dame to develop research
center in religious education.
1969 ...The funds from the National Institute of Mental
Health are delayed...
CYR moves beyond the Lutheran church for board members and
welcomes two businessmen, George Dayton and Herbert Bissell.
To reflect the change, CYR becomes Youth Research Center (YRC). ...
Youth Forum Series by now has sold 200,000 copies.
1970 ...A Study of Generations, funded by Lutheran
Brotherhood, begins with seminarians traveling to 320
congregations to collect data.
...Co/Mes, an organization affiliated with Achievement
Motivation Systems in Chicago, offers to buy YRC and hire all
of its staff. YRC rejects the offer.
Six new titles are added to the Youth Forum Series.
1971 ...Research on Religious Development: A
Comprehensive Handbook is published; monumental because it
brings together for the first time the results of 75 years of
research in religion.
1972 ...A Study of Generations is published; called an
"assured classic" by Time magazine.
1973 ...Three paperbacks are published, based on
information from A Study of Generations.
Lutheran Brotherhood increases the length of its computer
grants from two years to five years.
1974 ...Five Cries of Youth is published; significant
because it presents data that refutes the position of national
youth leaders who have bought in to Margaret Mead's thesis of
a "generation gap."
Two major projects are under way: Readiness for Ministry
for the Association of Theological Schools, funded by the
Lilly Endowment; and the Lutheran Seminarian project, a
parallel study on ministry. A third study, of the 18 colleges
of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), is launched.
The Lilly Endowment's rejection of a much-hoped-for national
training center for youth work professionals is a major
1975 ...Youth Survey is modified to a shorter version
called Becoming the Gift.
1976 ...Readiness for Ministry project is
successfully completed. Lilly Endowment awards additional
funds to introduce the program to Association of Theological
Schools seminaries over a six-year period.
National Institute of Mental Health awards grant for
three-year study, Effecting Utilization: Experimental Use of
1977 ...The continued broadening of YRC's mission leads
to a name change: Search Institute.
Approval is granted for a study of the beliefs and values
of members of Congress, funded by the National Endowment for
1979 ...Search Institute Board of Directors adopts
committee structure: executive, corporate development and
finance, and research.
Ten Faces of Ministry, based on a survey of 5,000 Lutherans,
1980 ...Ministry in America, based on a survey of 47
denominations, is released; reviewed in Time magazine.
1981 ...Lilly Endowment awards grant of $273,000 for
the Study of Early Adolescents and Their Parents.
Peter Benson carries out the study Religion on Capitol
Hill, which receives excellent coverage in Psychology Today.
Competition for grants increases; Search Institute Associates
are formed to raise money for the organization.
1982 ...Religion on Capitol Hill: Myths and Realities is
Relationship with WQED public television in Pittsburgh is
explored; television programming and a National Center for
Youth, Their Families, & Society are envisioned.
Search Institute forms two boards: one to continue the
tradition of serving as an advisory group to professional
staff and one to assume a governance role with responsibility
for seeking unrestricted funds.
1983 ...Findings from the Study of Early Adolescents and
Their Parents are presented at the Early Adolescence
Invitational Conference in Nashville.
Merton Strommen is awarded Fellow status in the American
Association, following his selection by Division 36 to
receive the William James Award for career achievements in
the psychology of religion.
Between 1983 and 1990, Search Institute conducts several
national studies for the National
Catholic Educational Association; leads to publication of
several reports that influence educational policy, teacher
training, and staff development in Catholic schools.
Planned change process called Vision-to-Action is developed by
Shelby Andress and Merton Strommen.
Board members secure line of credit to meet payroll.
Negotiations begin with Vesper Society, a nonprofit
health, education, and service organization headquartered in
San Leandro, California, to explore a possible merger to help
stabilize financial conditions.
Vesper Society, which created the Center for
Healthy Communities, "...
is a charitable organization focusing on leadership,
international programs--especially in Central America--and
health. Our mission is to create opportunities for
individuals, groups and institutions to apply moral and
ethical values in decision-making. The vision of Vesper
Society, a faith-based organization, is a compassionate
world which protects human dignity and enhances human
- "BUILDING BRIDGES
BETWEEN FAITH AND HEALTH COMMUNITIES
- An Overview" shows
their project that united the health community into
alliance with religious communities. "...Health and
Faith Monthly Networking Meetings (a.k.a. the Brown Bag
Lunches) Beginning in January 1996 the Center convened
and facilitated monthly community networking meetings.
The meetings had a mix of speakers and presenters from
both the faith and the health communities...Since the
majority of participants were familiar with Christian
traditions, efforts were made to provide information
about other traditions such as Judaism, Muslim, Native
American, Christian Science and native African
spirituality...Faith Directory Database. In the summer
of 1995 the Center began compiling a database of
faith communities in Alameda County as part of its
preparation for the Building Healthy Communities
Conference. What the Center discovered was that there
was not an existing database of congregations that
included all traditions. It turned out to be a
significant project." http://www.vesper.org/build.html
Society International Programs, states, "...Vesper
functions as a convenor and catalyst, bringing key people
together for in-depth dialogue or problem-solving. The
following are conferences that Vesper sponsored or
co-sponsored from 1990 to the present, dealing with issues
of civil society, peace and democracy...' Projects have
included partnership/sponsorship with: World Bank,
MacArthur Foundation, Inter-American Foundation,
Government of The Netherlands, FICONG; Economic Development
Institute of the World Bank; Arias Foundation, German
Academies; Coalition for the Presidio, Pacific Center,
German Academies; Columbia Foundation, General Service
Foundation, Compton Foundation, United Nations..."
Society shows it's resources and links,
"...with similar missions and methods, many of which
we have co-sponsored or partnered in successful
Those resources include,
Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress
deals with human rights, global peace and reconciliation,
international code of conduct, etc. >http://www.arias.or.cr/Eindice.htm
Carter Center (A
nonpartisan public policy institute dedicated to fighting
disease, poverty, conflict, and oppression. Founded by
former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn.) >http://www.cartercenter.org/
Center for The Common Good >http://www.commongood.org/
(An international alliance dedicated to strengthening
citizen action and civil society throughout the world) >http://www.civicus.org/
Interfaith Center at the Presidio
(A place where religious values and wisdom can contribute
to emerging dialogues at the new Golden Gate National
Recreation Area.) New Age, environmental and ecumenical >http://www.interfaith-presidio.org/InterfaithCenter.htm
Council of Churches
(An international Christian organization built upon the
foundation of ecumenical collaboration) >http://wcc-coe.org/wcc/who/index-e.html
with WQED results in the public television program
"Chemical People," which rallies people across the
country in a fight against drug abuse.
Idea of a National Center for Youth, Their Families, &
Society begins to sour due to a lack of visibility and
launches a five-year human sexuality project,
directed by John Forliti.
The Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs is the project
funder; Vesper Society awards funds to develop video and
1985-1998 A New Era
1985 ...Search Institute establishes a formal
relationship with Vesper Society, San Leandro,
California. Search Institute Board of Directors adopts new
structure of dual board representation with Vesper Society.
Five Cries of Parents, written by Merton and Irene Strommen,
Source newsletter is launched to address major issues facing
children, adolescents, and families.
1986 ...Values & Choices, a video-assisted
sexuality curriculum for 7th- and 8th-grade students in
public schools, is produced and distributed
nationally; receives the Certificate of Merit at the 1986
International Film Festival in Chicago.
1987 ...The Quicksilver Years: The Hopes and Fears of
Young Adolescents is published; examines the beliefs,
attitudes, values, and behaviors of 5th- to 9th-grade youth.
1988 ...A landmark study begins: Effective
Christian Education: A National Study of Protestant
Congregations, funded by the Lilly Endowment.
1989 ...Grant from the National Institute of Mental
Health launches the largest United States study on adoptive
major study of adolescence and youth of the Seventh-Day
Adventist Church, is launched.
Search Institute enters a long-term partnership with
Lutheran Brotherhood to help design and implement RespecTeen,
a nationwide effort to promote positive youth development.
Search Institute begins studying youth using its survey
titled Search Institute Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes
and Behaviors through Lutheran Brotherhood's RespecTeen
program. In the first year, 125 reports are generated.
1990 ...The Troubled Journey: A Portrait of 6th-12th
Grade Youth is published, introducing the concept of
developmental assets -30 building blocks of healthy
development, linked to both the prevention of multiple
high-risk behaviors and the promotion of school success,
caring, and a variety of other thriving indicators.
Merton Strommen is awarded the Philip R.A. May Award by the
Knowledge Utilization and Planned Change.
1991 ...Peter Benson receives the William James
award for career contributions to the psychology of religion
from the American Psychological Association.
Values & Choices sexuality education curriculum is
updated; video is left unchanged due to costs.
1992 ...Search Institute co-authors a report with the
Minnesota Department of Education titled Promising
Prevention Strategies: A Look at What Works.
New mission statement is adopted; focuses Search Institute
1993 ...Five-year project to provide resources and
training to promote congregational effectiveness is
launched in partnership with The Lutheran Church-Missouri
Synod and Lutheran Brotherhood.
....The Teaching Church, Rethinking Christian Education,
Transforming Christian Education, and Youth in Protestant
Churches are published, based on Effective Christian
Education: A National Study of Protestant Congregations.
1994 ...Affiliation with Vesper Society ends,
reflecting Search Institute's growing financial stability.
What Kids Need to Succeed: Proven, Practical Ways to Raise
Good Kids, by
Peter Benson, Judy Galbraith, and Pamela Espeland, is
published by Free Spirit Publishing.
Search Institute has 23 full-time employees with an annual
budget of $2.5 million.
1995 ...The Healthy Communities - Healthy Youth
(HC - HY) initiative is born, based on the framework of 30
developmental assets; Search Institute assists 35
communities in five states in organizing initiatives to
build assets for youth.
Search Institute and Lutheran Brotherhood establish a
long-term partnership to expand Search Institute's
Healthy Communities - Healthy Youth initiative nationwide.
Search Institute acquires resources, training materials, and
a 10,000-volume library from the former Center for Early
Adolescence (CEA) at the University of North Carolina. Peter
Scales, the center's director of national initiatives, joins
Search Institute as senior fellow.
Uniting Congregations for Youth Development (UCYD) is
launched, with a four-year grant from DeWitt
Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, to develop resources and
training on positive youth development for religious youth
workers. [Reader's Digest is owned and controlled by
Laurence Rockefeller and family See: Skeletons
in the Closet]
Congregations at Crossroads: A National Study of Adults and
Youth in The
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is published.
National Youth Leadership Council subcontracts with Search
Institute for the Middle School Service-Learning Impact
1996 ...Healthy Communities - Healthy Youth is launched
nationally; 170 communities mobilize under the HC - HY
.... The SearchInstitute Profiles of Student Life:
Attitudes and Behaviors survey is redesigned and in use for
the 1996-1997 school year.
Two reports describing the urgency and challenge of
building assets are published: Developmental Assets
Among Minneapolis Youth and Developmental Assets Among
Starting Out Right: Development Assets for Children is
published; establishes an asset framework for infants,
toddlers and preschoolers, and elementary-age children.
Search Institute launches Assets: The Magazine of Ideas for
Healthy Communities & Healthy Youth, a national,
full-color, quarterly magazine offering ideas, resources,
and strategies for creating asset-rich communities.
Web site is created.
YMCA of the USA contracts with Search Institute to
prepare Making the Case: The Impact of Youth Development
Programs, a report that examines the literature on youth
development programs and the impact of specific program
types; report is distributed to YMCA branches throughout the
Search Institute completes the external evaluation of the
Generator Schools project, a four-year study of schools
across the country dedicated to integrating service-learning
throughout their curriculum.
1997 ...Search Institute releases new data on the 40
assets, gathered from surveys of nearly 100,000 youth in 213
Search Institute staff grows to 56 with an annual budget of
nearly $7 million.
All Kids Are Our Kids: What Communities Must Do to Raise
Responsible Children and Adolescents, by Peter Benson, is
Publication sales reach $1 million.
The foundational book for the Uniting Congregations for
Youth Development (UCYD) initiative, Building Assets in
Congregations: A Practical Guide for Helping Youth Grow Up
Healthy, is published.
National leaders join together for The Presidents' Summit
for America's Future, a three-day kick-off event for the
America's Promise initiative, on April 27, 1997.
Search Institute helps define the goals of the summit,
develops the information booklet distributed to all summit
participants, and participates in the kick-off event.
1998 ...More than 300 communities are mobilized under
the Healthy Communities - Healthy Youth umbrella.
Shema: Listening to Jewish Youth, a study of Jewish young
people's involvement in secular and Jewish-sponsored
activities, is published.
Search Institute and America's Promise join forces to
provide a new survey, The Survey of Student Resources and
Assets, to measure the five fundamental resources of
America's Promise and the 40 developmental assets. The
Search Institute Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and
Behaviors survey, which measures the 40 assets, continues to
be administered by schools and communities across the
country. [America's Promise is Collen Powell's]
The Search Institute National Council on the Role of
Community in Child and Adolescent Development is formed;
first meeting is held in Aspen, Colorado.
What Teens Need to Succeed: Proven, Practical Ways to Shape
Future, by Peter Benson, Judy Galbraith, and Pamela Espeland,
is published by Free Spirit Publishing.
Developmental Assets: A Synthesis of the Scientific Research
Development is published, offering a comprehensive review of
more than 800 scientific articles and reports related to
Institute has 70 staff members with an annual budget of $10
Next Section: Pew
of Theological Schools
Copyright . All articles are the sole property of SeekGod.ca and Vicky Dillen. All Scripture King James Version unless otherwise stated.
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