Putting the 5 C’s together

Preparing youth to contribute to the community.

Positive youth development builds on Lerner’s 5 C’s. The 5 C’s are competence, confidence, connection, caring/compassion, and character. This Michigan State University Extension series looks at each C and ways adults can encourage the development of these assets.

When a person has developed the 5 C’s, they are thought to be on their way to a sixth C, contribution. Contribution can take many forms. Youth can contribute to themselves, their family, community or to institutions.

So what do youth contribute and how can we provide support? Youth have a variety of things to contribute. They have time, ideas, knowledge and much more to share. As young people enter a stage in life where they are ready to realize this important C, they may need your help in figuring out how to share all they have to give.

In the home, contribution can include completing chores, assisting with younger siblings or helping do some online research to help the family. The next time you have a big purchase to make, ask a young person to help. If you are buying a car, they can help compare rates, safety ratings and features. Their unique technology skills might help you find a great deal.

Young people often have great ideas and a different perspective on problems. Invite them to be members of an advisory board or to participate in community discussions. They may feel overwhelmed by a new environment full of strong opinions, so be sure to offer them an opportunity to speak and take the time to listen to what they have to say. Parents might look to see if there is a local youth foundation where young people serve a term and review and fund local grant requests.

You can encourage contribution by helping a young person find a cause for which they are passionate. Volunteering or fundraising for an organization is a great way to make a difference without having to spend money. Contribution can include monetary donations as well. As a young person begins to earn money, you might discuss the potential of donating a small percentage of each pay check. Making a donation requires researching organizations and learning how funds are used. Kiva and other micro-loan organizations allow people to loan sums of $25 or more to a borrower of their choosing and reloan the money when the loan is paid back. This is a low cost way to engage a young person in contributing to the global community.

By helping a young person explore the contributions they can make to their family, community and world you contribute to positive youth development and help prepare a young person for success.

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