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  • Writer's pictureThe QYD Project™

QYD Quest — July 3, 2020

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

The Middlebury and Essex communities have each been certified as a Quality Youth Development Community (QYD) ™. They are the first towns/villages to achieve this new community–wide credential designed by a Vermont youth organization and inspired by the positive youth development work and research by the Search Institute (MN).

Youth and adults from Essex CHIPS and the Essex Healthy Youth Coalition created the certification process as a means to recognize communities for their support and empowerment of youth – and to encourage further investments that help youth to thrive.

The QYD Community™ certification approval of Middlebury and Essex was announced on June 29th by the QYD Credential Committee, an independent governing body for the certification process. The Committee is comprised of non-profit and educational professionals – and youth – from several states, including MA, OR, NY, and VT. Barbara Abraham, Chair of the QYD Credential Committee stated, “We applaud the success of the Middlebury and Essex communities in pioneering this new community certification process. Although QYD is a new approach, it is inspired by the solid youth development principles identified decades ago by the Search Institute. We believe it holds great promise as a strategy to promote both youth and community development.”

CHIPS and the Essex Health Youth Coalition designed the QYD certification process to be aligned with the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, a positive youth development approach that is embraced by youth-serving organizations across the country. The unique QYD strategy is to encourage the whole community to participate in the achievement of at least 7 of 10 QYD Benchmarks in order to achieve certification as a QYD Community™. This new community credential has been funded in Vermont primarily by the VT Department of Health, with the eventual goal of broadly replicating this “Vermont model” of youth and community development throughout New England and the nation.

Lindsey-Fuentes-George, a member of the Middlebury Select Board and Chair of the Middlebury QYD Steering Committee, offered her thoughts on the group’s accomplishment. “I have been continually impressed with the project's ability to engage teens, of all ages and abilities, in meaningful ways. Likewise, it has been amazing to see those teens share their many talents with our community. I can't wait to see what the group accomplishes next, now that they have achieved QYD certification.”

Dominique Sweat, the 19 year old Chair of the Essex QYD Steering Committee had this to say upon hearing the good news. “I am so thrilled that Essex is now recognized as a certified Quality Youth Development Community. I will be turning 20 this month, and I am so grateful that my more youthful years were spent here in Essex. This is where I feel valued, and the Essex community empowered me as a youth. Essex truly is a QYD Community.”

Brattleboro VT has recently been approved to begin the quest for QYD certification. Further information about the QYD Project, and how additional communities may apply for QYD Community™ certification, is available at, and by emailing

July 3rd , 2020

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