Only in America can a self-educated farm boy become the 16th president, or can a poor girl from an abusive background become a billionaire media maven. We’re inspired by rags-to-riches success stories like those of Abraham Lincoln and Oprah Winfrey. Yet, here in the land of opportunity, research shows more than 40 percent of teens doubt they can achieve their goals. And startling numbers of young people say they aren’t motivated to achieve, don’t know how to plan or make decisions, and don’t feel a sense of purpose.
The consequences are evident in escalating dropout rates, greater unemployment and higher crime rates. More than 1 million students fail to graduate high school each year, which equates to more than $300 billion in lost wages, taxes and productivity over their lifetimes, according to a report by the Alliance for Excellent Education. In urban communities, it isn’t unusual to see dropout rates greater than 50 percent. Fewer than half of all dropouts get jobs, the report says.
Too few teens find a path that enables them to achieve their goals, pursue careers and become productive citizens. But research shows adolescents who receive instruction in skills such as goal-setting, time management and self motivation are more likely to graduate high school and go on to college, and less likely to be welfare-dependent.
“Few of today’s most successful people could have accomplished their achievements without using these principles of personal development,” says Stuart Johnson, owner of VideoPlus L.P. and SUCCESS Media, which publishes SUCCESS magazine.
Johnson has created the SUCCESS Foundation to make a positive difference for teens by producing and delivering the book Success for Teens, the fundamental life-skills and personal-development philosophies necessary for success in school and in life.
Johnson attributes much of the success in his life to books he received when he was 15, which began his own personal-development journey. “It’s not that these youngsters lack the desire to succeed. It’s that many don’t know it’s possible, and they don’t know how,” he says. “They lack the skills, the tools, the role models.”
Indeed, 70 percent of young people surveyed by America’s Promise Alliance say they wish they had more opportunities to help them fulfill their dreams.
The SUCCESS Foundation’s goal is to provide personal development content and programs to more than 10 million teenagers. The effort will start this year with distribution of Success for Teens in book and audio format. Success for Teens uses anecdotes from young people and celebrities to illustrate the importance of clarifying goals, practicing the small efforts necessary for success and accepting responsibility for one’s own destiny. The book helps show teens how to make the transition from passively waiting for life to happen to actively pursuing their dreams.
“We’re talking about empowering young people,” SUCCESS Foundation Director John Fleming says. “We’re talking about providing the tools to help them become the next generation of achievers, and to make positive contributions to their peers, families,communities and country. If one message can change a life, there are enormous possibilities to change or improve the lives of hundreds of thousands who simply need a mentor—a parent, guardian,teacher or even a book or audio-visual message on the concepts and philosophies associated with personal development.”
The SUCCESS Foundation will provide copies of Success for Teens to young people ages 12-18. Through partnerships with schools and youth organizations, the foundation also will provide the complete Success for Teens program, including introduction by trained facilitators.
The SUCCESS Foundation will form distribution partnerships with youth organizations that can facilitate the life-skills training and success philosophies taught in Success for Teens.
Ten percent of the prof it s from SUCCESS magazine will go toward the foundation’s work. In addition to Success for Teens, the SUCCESS Foundation will distribute other books, DVDs, CDs, facilitator guides for teachers and youth leaders, Web resources and state-of-the-art electronic media.
The SUCCESS Foundation will conduct ongoing research to quantify the impact of its programs, as well as clinics and councils to validate the research. There will be awards and scholarships for achievers, social media tools on the Web site to connect success and goal-oriented teenagers with each other, as well as ongoing coaching and mentoring for teens and facilitators.
“For every student touched by the SUCCESS Foundation’s efforts,” Johnson says, “every student who decides to rethink his or her future, graduate from high school and go on to secondary
education, start a business or just strive to perform to their maximum level, there’s the potential to change lives, reverse negative trends and improve communities.”
Want to help inspire tomorrows achievers? Go to www.SUCCESSFoundation.org to learn more.