Supports AASA’s Redefining Ready Campaign


Be Life Ready is a ready-to-use student success resource that can be utilized by school districts to address the Life Ready component of the AASA’s Redefining Ready initiative. Life Decisions Group, LLC, an educational organization founded by community college Career Services professionals, created Be Life Ready as a comprehensive, developmental process that evolves throughout a student’s path to graduation.

Be Life Ready.Com Supports Existing Life Ready Initiatives

Be Life Ready can be used to support and enhance any school district’s existing efforts focused on ensuring their students possess the life skills they will need to achieve future academic and career success. School leaders can gain immediate access to all the Be Life Ready resources at The website includes the 32-page Be Life Ready Guidebook which has commonsense approaches and practical information serving as a catalyst to empower all students to reach their full potential.  large-booklet

The 9 Keys to Be Life Ready The foundation for Be Life Ready was established upon what Life Decisions Group, LLC staff identified throughout their 30+ years of experience counseling and teaching teens and adults, as the most important components necessary for any individual to become Life Ready. Those components were used to develop the following 9 Keys to Be Life Ready which are highlighted in the Be Life Ready Guidebook:

  • Be educated and a lifelong learner
  • Create and maintain a Success Team
  • Develop a Success Plan
  • Use an effective decision-making process
  • Make good big-ticket decisions
  • Focus on personal development
  • Be knowledgeable of skills
  • Market yourself and interview positively
  • Understand how to find a job

Life Ready Indicators Can Begin the Process of Measuring Student Outcomes

The Be Life Ready Guidebook includes useful tools students can use to address each of the Keys to Be Life Ready. School administrators can also utilize them to document the following Life Ready Indicators:

  • Proven academic foundation in reading, writing, and math based on standardized testing benchmarks and other AASA College Ready Academic Indicators.
  • Establishment of a personal Success Team.
  • Creation of a Success Plan indicating realistic and achievable academic and career goals.
  • Documentation of an effective decision-making process utilized to evaluate and select academic majors, college choices, and career alternatives.
  • Proven knowledge of life’s most impacting Big-ticket Decisions.
  • Completion of 90% of recommended Personal Development Checklist activities.
  • Identification of top personal/self-management, functional, and special knowledge skills.
  • Proven ability to market oneself and interview positively.
  • Understanding of the Job Search Formula.

While limited research of life ready skills exists, assessing student outcomes for each of the Keys to Be Life Ready can begin the process of creating useful metrics. By measuring each student’s preparation for life using pre-and post-tests, portfolio assessments, and evidence-based methodologies, school district leaders can efficiently prove that their students have successfully completed a series of developmental tasks to become better prepared to be self-sufficient adults and achieve greater future academic, career, and personal success.

Be Life Ready Tools

School superintendents, principals, and teachers can download a free copy of the Be Life Ready Guidebook at The Guidebook is also available for students and their parents to access and discuss specific tools that address each of the 9 Keys to Be Life Ready. These tools can be used independently by students or in a classroom environment under a teacher’s supervision. Briefly the supportive materials in the Be Life Ready Guidebook include the following:

  1. A Success Team Inventory identifies potential obstacles that prevent a student from achieving success, and identifies people to help him or her overcome any of those barriers.
  2. A Success Planner to use to gather information needed to make important academic, career, and personal decisions.
  3. The 6-Step Decision-Making Process to help students make important decisions.
  4. A description of the 7 most important life-impacting, Big-Ticket Decisions students will need to make that will impact the overall quality of their adult lives.
  5. The Personal Development Checklist highlighting 24 activities that every student should complete throughout their high school experience.
  6. Three Skills Inventories for students to use each year to identify their personal/self-management, functional/transferable skills, and special knowledge skills.
  7. Sample interview questions to practice answering confidently so students can market themselves positively regardless of the purpose for the interview.
  8. An explanation of how to find a job that includes the Job Search Formula for students to better understand the connection between their skills and an employer’s reason for creating the job.
  9. A variety of self-reflection, mentoring, and group discussion questions to stimulate further thoughts regarding each of the 9 Keys to be Life Ready.
  10. A Pledge for students to commit to accept responsibility and work hard to address the Keys to Be Life Ready throughout their high school experience and beyond.

Be Life Ready, with the Keys to Be Life Ready as a core strategy, can be a viable option for any school district wanting to create school cultures where all students evolve through a personalized developmental process to help them transition into adulthood prepared to achieve academic, career, and personal success.

Questions regarding Be Life Ready should be directed to

Albert Foderaro

Executive Director of Life Decisions Group, LLC

Be Life Ready Creator

Using Be Life Ready as a Resource to Help African American Youth Reach Their Full Potential

The advancement of African American youth in America who are at-risk of failure and living in poverty is a national crisis that is often ignored and one that will require a united commitment to resolve. Black youth throughout America are being challenged by issues in their schools and neighborhoods involving gang behavior, drug dealers, crime, teenage pregnancies, unemployed parents, dysfunctional families, and homelessness. These issues make it extremely difficult for black youth to focus while in school and at home.

Until all the above-mentioned problems are eradicated, black youth will continue to struggle to remain safe in their environment, to avoid being dependent on welfare, and to achieve academic standards. The challenge to help African American youth to reach their full potential needs to be community-wide and shared by a variety of stakeholders. Teachers, school administrators, parents and guardians, ministers, employers, youth leaders, law enforcement agencies, and civic leaders need to join and embrace a nationwide effort to help build stronger, safer neighborhoods where African American youth are challenged to develop the skills necessary to achieve greater academic, personal, and career success.

Individuals and organizations in positions of prominence should provide support by guiding and mentoring black youth to take control of their own destiny to gain their human rights and greater dignity. Successful African American adults must come forward and demonstrate a willingness to accept responsibility and assume an important role in guiding young blacks to accept the challenge to be life ready. By doing so, black leaders will be joining and collaborating to facilitate positive changes in the lives of youths living within their communities.

Too many of our nation’s black youth are failing to achieve their full academic and career potential and become underachieving adults. Although federal and state efforts have improved high school graduation rates for African Americans since the early 90’s, these rates are still too low. According to Education Weeks annual Diplomas Count publication, there is some evidence of improvement as the nationwide average of African American students graduating high school at 71% is a significant increase from 25 years ago. However, having 29 out of every 100 African American teens deciding to drop out of high school or graduate without being college or career ready is not acceptable and signifies that there is much more room for improvement.

Ensuring that America’s African American youth reach their full academic and career potential is a complex problem. If there was an easy solution it would have been solved already. Although educational leaders have correctly focused attention on the need to improve academic standards nationwide, solving this crisis and improving the fate of African American youth will require a team approach focused on creating school-and-community-wide cultures where more black teens commit to achieving success.

America’s black teenagers are being asked and expected to make important decisions regarding their education, fields of study, and career choices. In addition, important choices must be made dealing with personal relationships, future living and work environments, health and wellness, and leisure activities. For decades, far too many black teens have lacked the knowledge and confidence necessary to make these kinds of decisions that will have a significant impact on the overall quality of their adult lives. By learning early about life’s most impacting decisions and the importance of using an effective decision-making strategy, the more likely favorable outcomes and greater satisfaction and success will be achieved.

To help educators and other community leaders teach effective decision making and additional life ready skills, Life Decisions Group, LLC created Be Life Ready® as an innovative personal development initiative. Be Life Ready® was developed using commonsense approaches and practical information to serve as a catalyst to inspire all teens, regardless of race or color, to reach their full potential and increase their chances of achieving a more productive, self-sufficient life.

The primary purpose of Be Life Ready is to support and help youth succeed by providing immediate access to free online resources.  By using the Be Life Ready tools, any individual or community organization can play an important role in challenging African American youth to become better prepared in life. To help with this process, a Be Life Ready Guidebook, PowerPoint, and Facilitator’s Guide are all downloadable at for use by individuals wanting to help themselves, or by others in positions to influence and guide young people to achieve greater success and meaningful, more satisfying lives.

By integrating the Be Life Ready resources into everyday school and community programming, as well as into their family environment, America’s black youth would be more knowledgeable of what is required of them to be life ready and would pledge to work hard and accept responsibility for addressing the following 9 Keys to Be Life Ready:

  • Be educated and a lifelong learner.
  • Create and maintain a Success Team.
  • Develop a Success Plan.
  • Use an effective decision-making process
  • Make good big-ticket decisions.
  • Focus on personal development.
  • Be knowledgeable of skills.
  • Market yourself and interview positively.
  • Understand how to find a job.

By addressing each of these keys starting in middle school every child would be provided with a personalized, comprehensive, developmental approach toward achieving greater success which continues to evolve throughout their high school years and beyond.


Broad community support is necessary for any significant advancements of African American youth. Leaders within the black communities need to develop Be Life Ready initiatives to achieve a shared outcome- greater success for youth and for the neighborhoods they reside. Until residents of at-risk communities collaborate and accept responsibility for teaching life ready skills to their youth, they will be fighting a battle they can never win alone. By addressing the Keys to Be Life Ready developed by Life Decisions Group, LLC, the safety and welfare of African American youth, as well as their academic and career accomplishments, will be positively impacted and their potential fully achieved.

Be Life Ready® is a registered trademark of Life Decisions Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. For additional information email,

Parents Should Encourage Teenage Children to Accept the Be Life Ready Challenge

Parents of middle school and high school students who want their sons and daughters to be successful should take time to discuss steps they can begin taking to ensure they’ll be better prepared and able to reach their full potential.

As a parent the first step toward helping your child achieve greater success is to educate yourself about the 9 Keys to Be Life Ready at Be sure to spend sufficient time reviewing the copy of the Keys to Be Life Ready Guidebook to familiarize yourself with each of the following 9 Keys to Be Life Ready:

  • Be educated and a lifelong learner.
  • Create and maintain a Success Team.
  • Develop a Success Plan.
  • Use an effective decision-making process.
  • Make good big-ticket decisions.
  • Focus on personal development.
  • Be knowledgeable of skills.
  • Market yourself and interview positively.
  • Understand how to find a job.

Follow 4 Steps to Accept the Be Life Ready Challenge with Your Child

Step One

Access and download the free Be Life Ready Guidebook at Spend time with your child reviewing its content and each of the Keys to Be Life Ready. By doing so, you and your child can begin to discuss the importance of sharing responsibility for increasing their chances of achieving higher levels of academic, career, and personal success by addressing and using commonsense approaches and practical information included in the Keys to Be Life Ready.

Step Two

Together view the 6-minute Introduction to Be Life Ready video available on the Be Life Ready web page and then discuss how accepting the Be Life Ready Challenge would impact what your child feels, thinks, does, and could become. Take time to review each of the different tools available in the Be Life Ready workbook and how each one of them could benefit him or her.

Step Three

Ask your child to answer the question, “Do you think that you could benefit from addressing the Keys to Be Life Ready?”. Regardless if their answer is yes or no, take the opportunity to discuss some of the positive ways that accepting the Be Life Ready Challenge and learning about the Keys to Be Life Ready could benefit him or her this year and throughout their adult life to:

  • overcome any academic or personal obstacles that could prevent achieving success
  • gain confidence and increase self-esteem
  • choose an appropriate field of study
  • create realistic academic and career plans
  • increase their personal growth and development by performing specific tasks
  • understand how to address making life’s most important decisions that will have the greatest impact on his or her overall level of satisfaction

 Step Four

Take positive action by printing the Be Life Ready Pledge available on the Be Life Ready web page and have your child sign it to indicate that he or she is willing to make the commitment to accept responsibility and work hard addressing the Keys to Be Life Ready and strive to reach their full potential.

Participate to Help Your Child Build a Stronger Future

As a parent you can sign the Be Life Ready pledge below your child’s signature to show your support and indicate that you want to play an important role in participating with and helping your child honor his or her commitment to work hard by accepting the Be Life Ready Challenge. Your child’s future success will be significantly impacted by how much time and effort you put into providing the support he or she needs while addressing each of the Keys to Be Life Ready.

By encouraging your child throughout the process you’ll be increasing the chances of him or her being able to make future life-impacting decisions that will produce favorable outcomes leading to a happier, more successful life. Isn’t that what every parent wants for each of their children?

It’s your decision. It’s your child’s life. Use the Be Life Ready Challenge to act as a catalyst for inspiring him or her to gain confidence and achieve greater academic, career, and personal success on the path to a more satisfying life.

 Be Life Ready® is a registered trademark of Life Decisions Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.





Improving Schools Requires Fixing Communities First

During a visit to a school in South Chicago a principal made a lasting impression on me. She told me about how one of her 8th grade male students was shot and killed on the street because he was carrying two guns and pulled them out while running away from the police. She attended the student’s funeral where one of her 7th grade students came up to her and lifted up his tee shirt that had a gun hidden under it and he said, “don’t worry, we’re always prepared”. She then asked me to look out of her office window at a small park across from the school and said that on the previous weekend 11 shootings had occurred there.

I’ve never forgotten that day nor the impact that principal made on me. She was totally dedicated and was clearly working so hard to help the children in her school reach their full potential. In the hour I was with her she had to excuse herself to break up an argument when a woman who was the mother of 9 children fathered by 9 different men was screaming at her secretary. Upon returning to our discussion her phone rang and she was informed that only 12 of an expected number of 65 children showed up for the first day of a summer reading program. The principal’s reaction to that news was one of total disappointment and frustration.

The principal had grown up in that community, left and went to college, continued on to earn a PhD, and years later decided she wanted to return to try and make a difference in the lives of the youth in her community. She indicated how frustrating it was and that as hard as she tried she said, “I can’t fix the school and help the students until the community and the people living in it improve first.” That was such an impactful statement.

The fact is that until the people who live in that community and others like it decide to improve their own living environment, principals will literally be fighting a battle they can never win alone. Principals are constantly challenged by issues in their schools and surrounding communities involving gang behavior, drug dealers, poverty, crime, teenage pregnancies, unemployed parents, dysfunctional and one-parent families, family members who dropped out of school, and their students just being able to survive on the streets once they leave the school building. All these issues make it extremely difficult for youth to be able to concentrate on school during and after they go home. Not only did I discover that situation in Chicago but similar scenarios were described to me during visits to schools in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Kansas City, East St. Louis, Indianapolis, Baltimore, New York City, Washington DC, Atlanta, and Trenton, New Jersey. Until all of the above mentioned problems are eradicated principals and their teachers will continue to struggle to improve the public schools they work in, as well as the safety, welfare, and academic ability of the children who attend those schools. Schools in at-risk communities can only improve once people living in those communities join together to address all of the social issues that affect the school and its students.

It was that Chicago principal and others like her that I met in cities throughout America that served as the motivation behind the creation of the Be Life Ready initiative. Hopefully, people will use the Keys to Be Life Ready material to facilitate Be Life Ready programs throughout communities in an effort to help young people and their family members reach their full potential.

Be a Lifelong Learner

Being and staying an educated person is critical in today’s world. It is important to be educated and to develop a personal academic comfort zone to be able to keep up with technological advancements occurring in not only in our work lives but in our personal lives as well. To do so, you need to commit to being a lifelong learner.

The initial degree you earn will help get you your first job, but it’s being a lifelong learner that will enable you to keep your job, get promoted, earn a higher salary, or perhaps qualify for and seek a better job in the future.

In today’s workplace, to stay marketable to employers and to remain valuable you need to stay on top of industry trends and technological advances in your field. It’s important to always keep your job-related skills current. Many people often lose jobs because they don’t. Don’t let that happen to you! Always take advantage of any training opportunities your employer offers and be aware of those colleges and vocational schools in your community that offer courses for you to upgrade or gain new skills.

Consider Your Educational Options Carefully

Being educated is power and it is vital to any person who expects to have the opportunity to create a more successful, satisfying life. When making choices regarding your education it is important to take the necessary time to carefully consider all of your options. Determine what level of education and the type of degree you will want to seek, the career field you want to prepare for, and where you can afford and access the education you plan to attain. Whether you earn a diploma, license, or certificate will have a tremendous impact on the occupation you can pursue and the wages you can earn. Ultimately, your education will impact the overall quality of your life.

In America a child’s educational experience begins in pre-school or kindergarten and progresses from 1st grade to 12th grade. Unfortunately, approximately 30% of youth make the decision to drop out of high school which in my opinion is the absolute worse decision any young person could ever make. No one, should have dropping out their best alternative when it comes to making an educational choice. However, if someone does they should at least attain a GED certificate which is a high school equivalency credential that requires passing tests that measure proficiency in science, math, social studies, reading and writing.

After graduating high school opportunities for further education are limitless and often times overwhelming for a young person to have to make. Although schools provide counselors and a variety of interest tests and career planning classes students don’t often focus on the process the way they should and they end up putting the decision off as long as they can. When that happens choices made often end with up with unfavorable outcomes. In my opinion, because schools have to focus so much on preparing students for taking standardized tests, career planning often doesn’t get the attention it should which is a costly mistake that educational leaders and parents need to address.

Below are a few options that teens and adults returning to school can consider for furthering their education. Although this list doesn’t include every possibility it does include the most common options to consider exploring that will prepare you for a career.

  • Trade or vocational schools: their goal is to produce job-ready graduates who will earn a certificate or license in order to qualify to work in a specialized field. When exploring careers be aware that there are approximately 1600 careers that require certification.
  • Apprenticeships and on-the-job training: depending on the trade you choose you may also be able to seek an apprenticeship or an on-the-job experience leading to a job-ready certificate and license.
  • Two-year community or technical college: most two-year colleges are open admission and require either a high school diploma or GED to gain acceptance. Community colleges offer affordable tuition and are great places for people to gain a fresh start academically. You’ll be able to choose between degrees that prepare you to get a job directly upon graduation or a transfer degree that prepares you to transfer to a four-year college.
  • Four-year college or university: four-year degrees are available in hundreds of majors and career fields that offer a more well-rounded education with 10-12 classes in a specific major with the rest in liberal arts, English, history, psychology, and language courses.
  • Master’s and PhD’s: These are advanced degrees earned upon completing a four-year degree that prepare people for professional level occupations.

Be Life Ready and Earn More by Being Educated

Education is power! The more educated you become the more value you’ll have in the job market. You’ll have more opportunities, be viewed as more qualified, and be more likely to advance in your chosen occupation.

When making important decisions about your education consider the following points:

  • First, and most important, finish high school. Do not drop out, don’t even think about it, and don’t be influenced to do so by friends or others who don’t have your best interest in mind. Dropping out of high school will prove to be the absolute worse decision you ever make.
  • Without a high school diploma opportunities for future success won’t exist. Don’t take your high school years lightly because how proficient you become in core reading, writing, and math subjects is critical for developing a strong foundation for all of your future learning opportunities.
  • Being educated will have a tremendous impact on your earning potential. Higher paying jobs usually require some form of diploma, certificate, or license that provides proof that you possess the special knowledge required to perform the job duties and solve the problems that correspond to a particular position. Be aware that the more difficult the problem is to solve and the more important it is to the employer the better the salary will be.
  • Minimum wage is paid because a job only requires minimal knowledge and minimal education. If you think you are entitled to earn a higher salary just because you work hard, think again, because in reality if you expect to make more money you have to be deemed qualified to earn it. An employer creates a job because there is something that they need to have done and if that something requires a higher skill level, then they will be willing to pay an amount equivalent to the importance of the job. For example, digging a 10 foot by 20-foot hole with a shovel might prove to be harder work for someone but an employer will pay a higher salary to a person who is certified to operate a backhoe who can dig that hole in a half hour instead of taking two days.

Take your education seriously! No matter if you are a teen or an adult, decisions you make about your education will absolutely be the most important decisions you’ll ever make in your entire life. Care enough about yourself to commit the time and energy to research and learn about potential career opportunities, why you need to be educated, and how much education is required to enter your chosen occupation and then advance to the level you prefer on that occupation’s career ladder.