Connectedness is described as connection, social inclusion, and social capital.  Regardless of the word used, the concept refers to building positive networks of relationships between youth and their communities.  The ability to build these positive relationship networks is frequently fostered in schools (Flanagan & Gallay, 2008; Flanagan & Stout, 2010). For students in schools where “teachers at their school respected students’ autonomous opinions and encouraged a respectful exchange of views,” the school climate led to increased feelings of school solidarity which in turn fostered more social trust (Flanagan & Stout, 2010).

In poor, urban communities, however, neighborhood-based organizations are more likely to be the places where social capital networks tend to be built.  These organizations help youth understand their personal circumstances within the context of their communities.  In turn, this understanding helps youth build “collective interests, collective identities, mutual trust, and the capacity to act on behalf of the common good” (Ginwright & Cammarota, 2007, p. 708).  This difference also has implications for use of particular measurement tools.  Typical tools measure feelings of increased connection to traditional institutions like schools, government, and neighborhoods.  These youth, however, may experience increased connection to these neighborhood-based organizations instead, which serves a parallel purpose for them.

By Urban Institute


Sources Cited

Bowers, E. P., Li, Y., Kiely, M. K., Brittian, A., Lerner, J. V., & Lerner, R. M. (2010). Five Cs Model of Positive Youth Development: A longitudinal analysis of confirmatory factor structure and measurement invariance. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39, 720–735.

Flanagan, C. & Gallay, L. (2008). Adolescent Development of Trust. CIRCLE Working Paper 61. The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement.

Flanagan, C. & Stout, M. (2010). Developmental patterns of social trust between early and late adolescence: Age and school climate effects. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 20(3), 748-773.

Ginwright, S. & Cammarota, J. (2007). Youth activism in the urban community: Learning critical civic praxis within community organizations. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 20:6, 693-710.

Additional Resources

See also Feelings of Belonging/School Connectedness indicators in PerformWell