Youth Thrive


Youth Thrive™ is a three-day intensive training for adults in all settings who work with teens or young adults. Groups are intentionally small and the work is highly interactive.

Groups are usually mixed, and include professionals from many different public and private youth-serving organizations. Sometimes, however, they are customized for staff from a single organization.

why youth thrive is tranformational

Youth Thrive represents a fully integrated approach to working with youth that blends what we've known for decades with what we've just learned in the last few years.

A little background: In the 1980s, the new concept of Positive Youth Development (PYD) swept the youth work field. PYD put forward an idea that at the time seemed counterintuitive: young people with troubling behaviors could not be controlled or corrected through top-down authoritarian approaches. Hardball tactics simply did not work, and in fact often simply made harmful or upsetting behavior worse. PYD told adults to change their own attitudes: to see youth as individuals who indeed had some problems but who also had strengths. According to PYD, youth would do better if allowed to craft their own plans within a supportive, not punitive, framework. Although now standard practice among many youth work professionals, deep knowledge and practice of PYD still remains spotty. Some systems working with young people don't use it consistently. Some, in fact, don't use it at all.

Youth Thrive tells us that we shape young people's chances for success through our interactions with them. 

The Washington, D.C.-based Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) developed Youth Thrive in 2011 . CSSP synthesized research on resiliency, positive youth development, neuroscience, and traumatic stress in order to understand how to truly promote healthy growth and optimal outcomes for young people. In partnership with CSSP, the Youth in Focus collaborative teaches Youth Thrive as a set of clear and concrete recommendations for any adult working with young people. Youth in Focus partners continuously update and evaluate the training; it is not a rigid, unchanging body of knowledge, but rather a framework upon which to hang new science as it emerges.

Critical Premises

Youth Thrive is based on six premises that reflect what adults need to do, but even more importantly, how they need to do it. Simply put, to be effective with youth, adults need to: 

  • Understand current research on neuroscience and adolescent development, and its implications for working with young people

  • Understand the impact of traumatic stress on young people and which relationship skills will reduce that impact

  • Recognize relationships as a primary source of growth and learning for young people

  • Provide services that fit with the young person's culture

  • Assess and modify their own beliefs and practices, and take care of themselves when the going gets hard

Police officers participate in Vermont Youth Thrive training, 2016.

Police officers participate in Vermont Youth Thrive training, 2016.

Every police officer working in a school/juvenile environment should have this training!
All topics covered over the 3-day training are critical to the successes of our youth. Amazing!!!

Youth thrive training-of-trainers

The Youth Thrive ToT is a four-day intensive training experience with two parts: the regular three-day Youth Thrive training plus a final day devoted to adult learning and group facilitation techniques. Teach-back sessions are built in so participants can practice their new skills.

To participate in a Youth Thrive ToT, you should have:

  • Been trained in adult learning principles

  • Have experience training adults

  • Be able to participate in the full ToT, including the fourth day "teachback" session

  • The ability to teach Youth Thrive to at least 50 people in the two years post-training

  • The willingness and ability to gather and submit data on all Youth Thrive trainings you conduct

Photo courtesy of Think of Us.

Photo courtesy of Think of Us.