What is the QYD™ Project?

We define Quality Youth Development as “substantive, measurable and sustainable community actions that support, engage, inspire, and empower youth”. QYD Community™ Certification is intended to encourage and measure concrete efforts to promote the health and development of youth. We believe that the attainment of this certification will become a quality standard that other communities will seek to achieve in order to not only help youth thrive, but also attract businesses, employees, and residents. QYD™ is believed to be
the first credentialing effort in New England (and possibly in the nation) that measures and acknowledges a community’s commitment to youth in this manner.

The Quality Youth Development™ Project is made possible by funding from the VT Department of Health, VT Agency of Education, Vermont Youth Development Corps, the Youth in Transition Program, the Mergens Family Foundation, and the Hoehl Family Foundation. It is undergoing a 2 year evaluation by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont.

How It Started

Essex CHIPS has been serving Vermont youth since 1986. It has served as a model for robust youth engagement – particularly with its organizational structure, which encourages youth 13-18 years old to serve on the Board of Directors. The QYD Project™ represents CHIPS’ commitment to broaden and deepen the positive impact communities can have on youth. With this goal in mind, CHIPS has drawn on the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets™ model to design a community certification process that establishes substantive - but not onerous - benchmarks to be achieved by a neighborhood/village/town/city in order to obtain the Quality Youth Development (QYD) Community™ credential. Achievement of this certification will demonstrate that a community is actively promoting youth engagement and youth empowerment – which have been proven to be essential elements necessary for youth to thrive.


After designing and launching the QYD Project™, Essex CHIPS separated itself from the management of the project in order to ensure an objective and unbiased credentialing process for communities throughout Vermont and beyond. A new nonprofit entity, called Quality Youth Development Inc. (aka QYD Inc.,) was formed and has contracted with CHIPS since 2019 to manage project operations, including the promotion of the project and coordination of the certification process for interested communities. The QYD Credentialing Committee (QCC), the certification authority within QYD Inc., is comprised of nonprofit, education, and community professionals, as well as older teens from all over the United States. The QCC reviews and acts upon QYD Community™ applications. Essex CHIPS continues to support the project through resource development efforts and technical assistance to applicants.

Interested? Find out how to get started: