Partnering with youth in their quest for identity, community, and purpose

Headquartered in Minneapolis working with national, state, and local stakeholders in youth development, the National Center for Youth Development connects kids with their communities, from birth to adulthood. Whether you’re a musician, a cyclist, an engineer, or future politician, we will not only support you in your interest, but we’ll help you learn the life skills you'll need to thrive in the world. We bring extensive experience and professionalism to every person we work with and customize our support to your individual needs and concerns.

Our coaches have been working with youth for nearly two decades and have assisted countless families navigate the often overwhelming path of positive youth development. Our finger is directly on the pulse of evidence-based best practice, and we have monitored and studied the evolution of culture and science to inform our own approaches—all to give you exceptional support that will last a lifetime.

Get in touch with us today to set up a consultation, or use the contact form at the bottom of this page to enquire whether partnership with us is right for you.




2808 38th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55406

(612) 584-1902


Areas of Expertice


Identity is a core construct in positive youth development because it refers to how a person addresses issues dealing with who that person is. Important theorists studying the concept of identity, like Erikson, Marcia, and Higgins, assert that identity is organized, is learned, and is dynamic, and a subjective evaluation of an individual’s identity has emotional consequences for that individual. Adolescents who can cultivate a clear and positive identity after their developmental struggles during adolescence often advance more smoothly into adulthood. The National Center for Youth Development places a premium on the nature and structure of identity and we understand its importance on adolescent developmental outcomes. We nurture significant determinants of identity and partner with you to devise strategies for cultivation of positive identity.


It is important that any program designed to serve youth provides a means for the constructive channeling of energy through physical activity. There is a particular need for at least some involvement in sports and activities that allows for differences in strength, dexterity, and size. Adolescents are learning to operate their rapidly changing and maturing bodies, and they need space and opportunity to test out their new strength and skills. In addition, establishing habits of healthy exercise in adolescence is vital to lay the groundwork for ongoing physical health in adulthood. Adolescents are being driven biologically to begin to compete in life, and providing structured outlets for this sense of competition will help to prevent or counteract more negative manifestations of competition that can arise. 


Although historically most of the work done to promote community interaction and awareness has emphasized family, peer, and school engagement, there is a growing recognition of the importance of supportive neighborhoods and communities. Recent research suggests that adolescent social connectedness, including involvement in organized activities, predicts subsequent adult wellbeing from at least 6 years later to more than a decade later in young adulthood. A key “active ingredient” in this process are the high-quality relationships that youth forge with the caring adults who populate youth settings. Such adults often become instrumental to youths’ engagement, encouraging attendance and tipping the balance toward deeper involvement, skill development, and better outcomes. Our role is to help connect youth with these adults in their community. 


All human beings (and adolescents in particular) need to have their accomplishments recognized and valued by individuals they respect. The opportunity to develop skills and to succeed at activities is absolutely vital for youth to develop a sense of competence. Adolescence is perhaps the most important developmental stage in terms of establishing a sense of one’s strengths and abilities and forming a more consistent self-image. Adolescents who spend a great deal of time in conventional institutions (ie. schools) may often get a clear message that they are far from competent and can easily take on an identity of being a failure and disappointment. On the other hand, through engagement in positive activities with positive feedback from adults, adolescents can begin to develop a sense of their ability to make a positive difference in their world.


Youth development professionals have become increasingly interested in the benefits associated with youth developing a sense of purpose. Having a sense of purpose has been associated with a number of key developmental outcomes in adolescence, such as higher self-esteem and academic achievement. In contrast, a lack of purpose can create unsettled feelings and serve as a stressor for adolescents. For example, adolescents who have low levels of purpose or who are still searching for purpose may experience higher rates of depression and anxiety. Social support from the National Center for Youth Development can buffer the inimical effects of such developmental stressors. Contact us today about the role we can play in assisting youth in their search for purpose and acheivment developmental outcomes, specifically self-esteem.

youth Development

All effective youth programs have youth development at their core and all effective youth leadership programs build on solid youth development principles. The National Center for Youth Development employs evidence-based best practice youth development strategies throughout our programs. Based on our research of existing definitions, we have adopted the following working definition of youth development adapted from NYEC and National Collaboration for Youth: "youth development is a process which prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences which help them to become socially, morally, emotionally, physically, and cognitively competent." Positive youth development addresses the broader developmental needs of youth, in contrast to deficit-based models that focus solely on youth problems.


Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their growth.
— John Whitmore


We Want To Hear From You.

Use the form below to contact us regarding your personal enquiry. Please be as detailed as possible in your request for assistance. Include your industry along with any specific document requests. To provide the highest quality of service regarding your enquiry, we recommend that you first describe the issue you’re having before telling us what you want to achieve. You may also email or call us to set up a consultation.

For job opportunities, please email us your resume. We’re always looking for new and exceptional talent to lead the organization into uncharted fields of practice.

Name *
Please do not include confidential or sensitive information in your message. We are mandatory reporters and we may have a duty to disclose any information you provide to the appropriate officials.