Dr. Peter Benson: Visionary. World-Changer. Awesome Dad.

Photos of Dr. Peter Benson, Search Institute - Developmental Assets, Sparks

Dr. Peter Benson - youth advocate and youth development pioneer, by daughter Liv Lane

Many people dream of changing the world; Dr. Peter Benson actually did it.

One the world’s leading authorities on positive youth development, he served for more than 25 years as president and CEO of Minneapolis-based Search Institute, where he and his team conceptualized, created and extensively researched a new way to help youth thrive. Rather than focus on fixing what was wrong with young people, Dr. Benson proposed focusing on what was right – pinpointing 40 Developmental Assets that kids need to succeed. The Developmental Assets framework has become the most frequently cited and widely utilized approach to youth development in the world.

Throughout his renowned career, Dr. Benson encouraged parents, educators and caregivers to redefine success in terms of thriving – a state of being fully alive and in love with our lives. His ultimate goal was to unite and engage all adults in the mission of raising young people to possess a strong sense of purpose, joyful passion, and the courage to be their best selves. In the last years of his life, cut short by cancer in 2011, he devoted much of his energy to his notion of sparks – the innate and positive traits, interests and passions every child needs help nurturing. 

Dr. Benson wrote or edited more than a dozen books on child and adolescent development and social change, including:

Sparks: How Parents Can Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers
Vision: Awakening Your Potential to Create a Better World
Parent, Teacher, Mentor, Friend: How Every Adult Can Change Kids’ Lives
All Kids Are Our Kids: What Communities Must Do to Raise Caring and Responsible Children and Adolescents, 2nd Edition

Want to be inspired? Check out these videos featuring Dr. Peter Benson…


TED Talk: Dr. Peter Benson on Sparks

Dr. Peter Benson and the Dalai Lama


A collection of blog posts by Liv about loving, learning from and losing her dad… 

Note: For info on booking a presentation with Liv, go here.






Thanks for sharing this, dear heart!