In order to cause a nation-wide systematic social change, the Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico (Instituto del Desarrollo de la Juventud, IDJ) has adopted a theory of change for Youth Development. This theory has been developed by experts of the Youth Development Strategies, Inc. (YDSI), such as its director, Dr. Michelle Gambone, a renowned sociologist and researcher working for over 15 years in youth development, community mobilization, public policy and program effectiveness evaluation.
The Youth Development’s direct objective is to get young people to learn how to be productive, connect with others and navigate their surroundings, and as an indirect objective, have them become adults who are economically self-sufficient, have healthy families, maintain excellent social relations and contribute to their communities. To achieve these objectives, we draw on research that points to the more profitable “active” and “development support” to achieve long-term positive results.
Unlike efforts that focus on the correction of previously acquired negative behaviors or the prevention for young people who engage in “at-risk” behaviors, Youth Development focuses on encouraging positive outcomes for all young people. In other words, we seek to ensure that all young people have access to positive development experiences and relationships that will allow them to grow into health adults. This theory is based on the premise that the community in general is responsible for the outcome of all children.