April 1, 2007

Appendix A: The Five Promises

By: Alan Tuck, Kristin Brennan

Appendix A: The Five Promises

Excerpted from Every Child Every Promise: Turning Failure into Action, America’s Promise Alliance, 2006

Research affirms what generations of Americans have regarded as common sense wisdom: To become successful adults who contribute to society, children need the compounded effect of basic, essential resources in their lives. Parents are the first and most important providers of these developmental resources. But they are far from the only ones. Other adults, schools, and communities (among others) all have key roles to play.

Drawing on the collective weight of this previous research, America’s Promise Alliance in 1997 developed descriptors of five essential resources in children’s lives that most directly correlate with success. We call them the “Five Promises.” For our young people to thrive—and by extension, for America to continue to thrive—we believe that providing these basic resources must be nothing less than a promise we keep to every child. As General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret), the founding chairman of America’s Promise Alliance, has described our mission, all Americans have a “solemn obligation” to ensure that every child has a chance to succeed.

These five research-driven and experience-proven essentials that all children need in their lives are:

  • Caring adults: Every child and youth needs and deserves support and guidance from caring adults in their families, schools and communities, including ongoing, secure relationships with parents and other family adults, as well as multiple and consistent formal and informal positive relationships with teachers, mentors, coaches, youth volunteers and neighbors.
  • Safe places and constructive use of time: Every child and youth needs and deserves to be physically and emotionally safe everywhere they are— from the actual places of families, schools, neighborhoods and communities to the virtual places of media—and to have an appropriate balance of structured, supervised activities and unstructured, unscheduled time.
  • A healthy start and healthy development: Every child and youth needs and deserves the healthy bodies, healthy minds and healthful habits and choices resulting from regular health care and needed treatment, good nutrition and exercise, comprehensive knowledge and skills and role models of physical and psychological health.
  • Effective education for marketable skills and lifelong learning: Every child and youth needs and deserves the intellectual development, motivation and personal, social-emotional and cultural skills needed for successful work and lifelong learning in a diverse nation, as a result of having quality learning environments, challenging expectations and consistent formal and informal guidance and mentoring.
  • Opportunities to make a difference through helping others: Every child and youth needs and deserves the chance to make a difference—in their families, schools, communities, nation and world—through having models of caring behavior, awareness of the needs of others, a sense of personal responsibility to contribute to larger society, and opportunities for volunteering, leadership and service.

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