4-H Youth Development Program
University of California
4-H Youth Development Program

4-H Thrive

Growing Youth who THRIVE

tweens group

At its core, thriving is about communities where young people feel and know that they are persons of value and worth; that they have something unique to offer the world; and that they have the courage to act on their gifts. (Benson, 2008).

4-H offers opportunities for youth to realize their true and full potential through the Step-It-Up-2-Thrive curriculum.   By incorporating the Step-It-Up-To-Thrive process, 4-H will

  • Develop youth self-reflection skills.
  • Teach a common language for thriving.
  • Provide a holistic view of personal development.
  • Inspire youth to create visions for their futures.
  • Motivate youth to work toward meaningful goals.

The Thrive Foundation for Youth describes thriving as closely related and yet unique to other youth development concepts.  The distinctions of thriving include:

  • Purposeful motion toward full potential
  • Life view marked by balance, meaning and learning from experience
  • Mutually beneficial use of resources from environment and contribution to environment
  • Expands on earlier youth development research
  • Moves individuals toward optimum development rather than avoidance of negative outcomes
  • Anchored to recent brain research
  • Developmental
  • Incorporates “purpose”, hopeful future and contribution to others
  • Person is an active participant in his/her own development

In the creation of the Step-It-Up-2-Thrive Theory of Change, the Thrive Foundation for Youth has embraced and promoted the work of several social scientists including Dr. Peter Benson, Dr. Bill Damon, Dr. Rich Lerner, Dr. Linda Wagener, and Dr. Carol Dweck.  Each has contributed significant research to the field of thriving for youth.  See the resource section below for listing of published works.

4-H Thrive Master Trainer & Project Leader:

Helping youth reach their full potential is hard work adult champions in their everyday world to make it happen.  To find out more about our Thrive Master Trainer and Project Leader Certification programs or to find resources to run a Thrive Leadership Project in your county, click here.

Resources for Thriving Concepts:

UC Delivers Story: http://ucanr.edu/delivers/?impact=926&delivers=1

Lewis, K. M., Trzesniewski, K., Horrillo, S. J., Harris, L. S., & Miner, G. (2013). 4-H Thrive! Implementation of the Step-It-Up-2-Thrive Curriculum in 4-H 2010 - 2012. http://4h.ucanr.edu/files/191528.pdf

Heck, K.E., Subramaniam, A., Carlos, R. (2010) “The Step-It-Up-2-Thrive Theory of Change”. Found at: The Step-It-Up-2-Thrive Theory of Change

Thrive Foundation for Youth. (2010), www.stepitup2thrive.org

Benson, P.L. (2008) Sparks: How parents can help ignite the hidden strengths of teenagers. California: Jossey-Bass

Damon, W. (2008) The path to purpose. New York: Free Press

Lerner, R. (2007) The good teen. New York: Three Rivers Press

Dweck, C.S. (2006) Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books

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