In order to create conditions for youth motivation, needs for safety, belonging, and esteem must be met. High quality scores indicate that things are in place for youth to have access to key developmental experiences and to get their needs met. When youth needs are met they are likely to be motivated to engage in the program.
The pyramid is grounded in reality and validated by data. Most youth programs tend to score high marks for safety and achieve progressively lower scores as you move up the pyramid. But engagement and interaction are the most important indicators of quality: the youth programs with high engagement and interaction scores are among the highest rated by youth. In addition, the presence of youth voice—structures that involve young people in running the organizations that serve them—is the highest predictor of youth motivation.