C.I. Study of Positive Youth Development

Research Study

The Compassion International Study of Positive Youth Development

(July 2016 - Present)

Principal Investigator

Project Collaborators

Jacqueline Lerner, Boston College

Alistair Sim, Compassion International

Pam King, The Thrive Center for Human Development

Thrive Center Research Team

Yeonsoo Yoo, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Jennifer Vaughn, Research Assistant

Esther Tan, Research Fellow

Funded By

This project was made possible through the support of a generous grant by Compassion International and King Philanthropies.

 

Project Overview

More than one billion children across the globe live in persistent and pervasive poverty, with about 400 million living in extreme poverty. Such marginalization creates an often self-fulfilling trap of hopelessness that greatly diminishes chances to thrive or grow into healthy, fulfilled, and responsible adults. The Thrive Center for Human Development has partnered with Tufts University’s Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development (IARYD) and Boston College to conduct a three-nation, comparative longitudinal study of the use of the Lerner and Lerner model of Positive Youth Development (PYD) in understanding the bases of thriving among some of the world’s poorest youth in Compassion International’s (CI) child development programs. CI s a Christ-centered, child-sponsorship organization that partners with over 7,000 churches to support and promote thriving in over 1.8 million youth living in poverty in 25 countries located in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia.

Building upon recent independent, peer-reviewed evidence that CI’s programs produce sustained impact in adults (Wydick, 2013), this project will study the development of youth involved in CI’s programs in three nations: El Salvador, Rwanda, and one country in Asia (soon to be determined). In each nation, the research team will compare the development of participants in the CI program to youth who are not participating in CI’s programs to identify what works, with what children, in what context, over what time period.

The results of this project will demonstrate how a proven model synthesizing a faith-based approach to youth development—with 15+ years of evidence-based research on the individual and ecological bases of PYD—can be scaled globally to enhance the likelihood that poor youth will become fulfilled and responsible leaders in their nations. The results will catalyze CI’s global efforts, expand the numbers of youth they are reaching, and be relevant to promoting thriving among the world’s youth.

Related Publications

Exploring Religiousness & Hope Among Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team test whether religiousness is related to hopeful future expectations.

The Big 3 Components of PYD Programs in Rwanda

The CI Research Team report on the data collected from Rwandan participants to assess the traits of effective PYD programs.

Evaluating the MDAS in Mexican & Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team apply the MDAS to indicate the extent to which spirituality was integrated into the lives of youth.

Illuminating the Use of the Specificity Principle

The CI research team explore the use of the specificity principle in future assessments of Sustainable Development Goal indicators.

End of the Beginning: Studying PYD in Global a Context

The CI research team review and discuss the use PYD models in global settings, particularly among impoverished youth.

Measuring Spirituality, Hope, & Thriving Among Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team compare youth enrolled in CI to youth not enrolled in CI, examining spirituality, hope, and PYD.

Studying PYD in Different Nations

The CI research team discuss the need to conduct culturally relevant studies of PYD to fully understand youth thriving.

Selected Presentations

King, P. S. (September 2017). Igniting youth to thrive. Plenary at Compassion International’s Global Council Meeting, Colorado Springs, CO.

King, P. E., Tirrell, J. M., Aymong, C. C., Weiner, M. B., Lloyd, C. R., Vaughn, J. M., & Lerner, J. V. (October 2017), Spirituality and hopeful future expectations: Measuring spiritual development in El Salvadorian Youth. Poster presented at the 10th Biennial Meeting of the Society for the Study of Human Development, Providence: RI.

King, P. E. & Vaughn, J. L. (April 2018). Living on purpose: Adult support of spiritual purposes. Paper at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Minneapolis, MN

King, P. E. (April 2018). Future directions of the study of religious and spiritual development. Discussant for paper symposium at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Minneapolis, MN.

King, P. E., Vaughn, J. M., Yoo, Y., Tirrell, J., Lerner, R., Dowling, E., …Sim, A. (May 2018). The role of personal, social, and transcendent resources in religion for Salvadoran youth. Paper presented at Travis Research Institute Research Colloquium, Pasadena, CA.

King, P. E., Loya, J., Yoo, Y., Tirrell, J. M., Geldhof, G. J., Dowling E., Lerner, J. V., & Lerner, R. M. (August 2018). Religious attendance, relational spirituality, hope, & positive development in El Salvadorian youth. Paper Symposium at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, San Francisco, CA.

Yoo, Y., & King, P. E. (October 2018). Further Testing of the Measurement of Diverse Adolescent Spirituality (MDAS) in the United States and Mexico youth. Poster presentation at Special Topic Meetings at the Society for Research in Child Development, Philadelphia, PA.

King, P. E., Yoo, Y., Tirrell, J. M., Geldhof, G. J., Iraheta, G., William, K., Sim, A., Stephenson, P., Dowling E., Lerner, R. M., & Lerner, J. V. (October 2018). Measure of Diverse Adolescent Spirituality in Mexican & Salvadoran Youth: Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Measurement Invariance. Paper Symposium at Special Topic Meetings at the Society for Research in Child Development, Philadelphia, PA.

King, P. E. (February 2019). Grace: To infinity and beyond. A response to Dr. Peter Hill on “Grace as Religiously Inflected Experience.” Integration Lecture, School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.

Vaugh, J. M., Yoo, Y., King, P. E., Tirrell, J. M., Dowling, E., Lerner, R. M., Lerner, J. V., Iraheta, G., Williams, K., & Sim, A. (March 2019). Profiles of Youth Strengths and PYD Outcomes for Salvadoran Youth. Paper at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development. Baltimore, MD.

King, P. E. (March 2019). Excavating Religion. Discussant for Paper Symposium: Religiosity as a Multifaceted Resource for Positive Youth Development among Diverse Youth at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development. Baltimore, MD.

King, P. E., Vaughn, J. M., Yoo, Y., Tirrell, J. M., Geldhof, G. J., Iraheta, G., Williams, K., Sim, A., Dowling, E., Lerner, R. M., & Lerner, J. V. (March 2019). Exploring Ecological Assets and Personal Strengths Among Salvadoran Youth: The Complex Relationship between Religion and Hope. Paper at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development. Baltimore, MD.

King, P. E. (April 2019). Reciprocating spirituality: Where are we in the process. Invited address at the Ninth SRCD preconference on child and adolescent spiritual and religious development, Austin, TX.

Media Coverage

Compassion International was named as the co-recipient of the 2020 Organizational Award for Excellence in Research & Programming for Youth.

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