SUCCESS Foundation: Starting a Program

I’ve been writing about the SUCCESS for Teens program for more than a year. I’ve learned that it’s life-changing for teenage participants and for many adult leaders, too. The magazine’s staff often receives inquiries from people who want to use the program in a school or club but need pointers for getting started. Some of their frequently asked questions follow.

Q: What is the SUCCESS for Teens program?

A: The program was designed to help kids make smart life choices as well as to set goals and map out the steps for reaching them. It centers on the 147-page paperback SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk about Using the Slight Edge. Advice is woven throughout powerful stories written by teenagers about problems and the solutions that worked for them. The book’s chapters and principles: Little Things Matter, Attitude Is Everything, Use the Moment, Everything Starts with Small Steps, There’s No Such Thing as Failure, Habits Are Powerful, You’re Always Learning, and You Can Make Your Dreams Come True. When I interview a teen for an article, he or she almost always quotes from one of the book’s first-person stories and refers to one of the principles.

A leader may develop presentations or projects based on advice in the book, which lends itself well to discussion or to a writing assignment where teens can express more private thoughts.

Q: Who can start a program?

A: There are no requirements for establishing a program; you can buy one or more of the paperback books for $6 each and start anytime. But certain groups such as schools, churches and nonprofit youth-development organizations may request free hard copies at

In addition, all of the SUCCESS Foundation materials are available as free downloadable e-books on at These materials include the SUCCESS for Teens book and a facilitator’s guide. An audio version of the book can be downloaded free at, and audio CDs are also available for $6 each.

Q: How can I start a program?

A: Here’s how one highly regarded program began at four high schools: Sterling, Colo., businessman Rick Jackson ordered books and CDs and then approached area principals and guidance counselors. “The difficult part was getting the teachers to find a way to work the book into the curriculum during the early part of the year. Start the process for next year so everyone has time to prepare,” Jackson advises. He asks the program leader/teacher to have parents sign the “Message to Parents” in the book so they will be involved, too.

Jackson is delighted that he jump-started the program. “I wish the SUCCESS for Teens material had been available when I was raising my children, but my grandchildren won’t miss out on this wonderful program.”


Betsy Simnacher is a freelance writer who has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. She lives in the suburbs of Dallas.

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