Youth Directions interview on KGNU’s Dot Org program

12.28.2012 Dot Org

Click on the link to listen to Youth Directions’ Executive Director, Levi Brackman, talk with KGNU during their Dot Org segment: KGNU Interview

Program uncovers career-track views

12.20.2012 Arvada Press By Vic Vela (this story also appeared in the Golden Transcript, Lakewood Sentinel, and Wheat Ridge Transcript)

Nathan Yujiri is an aspiring teacher, but not long ago the 23-year-old University of Colorado student described himself as desperate for career-path guidance.

Before this summer, Yujiri, a junior, had changed majors from international studies to engineering. Then, he had another change of heart and felt stuck.

“To me, it was hard to commit because once I make a decision, it narrows my possible future opportunities,” he said. “They tell you that you have a lot of time to decide. But, most students should have their majors lined up by the time they’re juniors.”

So, Yujiri sought help from Youth Directions, a Jefferson County-based nonprofit that coaches young people through a process of self-discovery to help them find their lives’ calling.

Yujiri – who is now on path to become a math teacher — was at first reluctant to join Youth Directions, thinking it might be akin to prior experiences with career-counseling services, which he said he found weren’t really personal.

Youth Directions Executive Director Levi Brackman, who co-founded the program in 2009, said he hears stories like Yujiri’s all the time.

“What schools should really be doing is helping kids find their purpose or calling,” Brackman said. “Instead, they’re helping them find a major or a career. Every time you change your major, that’s a huge amount of money down the drain.”

Youth Directions, through several hours of coaching and in-depth exploration, helps students recognize their passions and purpose in life. Students also receive mentoring and can shadow professionals in their chosen field.

Recently, students at Dakota Ridge High School took part in a Youth Directions-led passion-and-purpose-finding program.

“They really got into it,” said Pam Cummings, a teacher at Dakota Ridge. “At first, it was really deep, the writing and self-analysis. But, once they got over that hill, they were just really excited.”

The program costs money, but Brackman said Youth Directions works with a sliding fee scale.

“We’ll never turn someone down for lack of financial abilities, if they’re motivated,” he said. “If you’re in my business, you’re looking to help kids find their passion and purpose. That’s striking gold for us.”

For more information about Youth Directions, and for details about enrollment in an upcoming five-day winter-break coaching program that begins next month, go online to youthdirections.org.

Read more by clicking here.

7 ways to help your child succeed in college and save you money

November 2012 Colorado Parent Teen Focus By Levi Brackman

The math is very easy to do. It costs parents on average twenty thousand dollars a year to send their child to college. That’s eighty thousand dollars over four years. But here is the catch, only 27% of students who attend public universities graduate in four years (for private colleges it’s 47%). Most students take at least six years to graduate. Here are two main reasons.
 
A. Most students change their major during college, often multiple times.
 
B. Many students transfer from college to college and thereby loose credits in the process.
 
Needless to say, staying extra years in college is costly on many levels.
 
So what can parents do to ensure that their students finish college in four years?
 
Here is the answer, help them find their life purpose early on so that they can choose the right college and correct major from the outset.
 
“Easier said than done,” I hear you say.
 
Correct. But it’s not as hard as you may think.
 
“Isn’t college supposed to help students figure out what they want to do? You ask.
 
Some people think so. But it’s a very expensive and ineffective method of finding one’s passions and purpose.
 
Here are seven things you can do to help your teenager. This process will help teens make long term goals they are passionate about achieving and in the process choose a suitable university and college major.
 
1. Talk to your teenager about purpose.
 
Note: Everything has a purpose. Not knowing the purpose of something does not mean it has no purpose.  It’s vital that your teenager feel purposeful— they still have a purpose, even if they don’t yet know what it is.

2. Treat your teen as the unique individual he or she is.  Remember, what you want them to be may not actually fit them best.
 
Note: the term “trying to fit a square peg into a round whole” was originally written in the 1800’s about a father who wanted to force his son to become a farmer simply because he was a farmer. Realize that children have their own “shape” which may be different than your perception of them.
 
3. Help you teenager identify all of the things he or she loves to do.
 
Note: As their parents, you will be able to help them remember the things that they really enjoyed doing from childhood onwards. By observing them, you will also be able to point out the things they currently enjoy.
 
4.  Help your teenager list the “aspects they enjoy” about the things they love to do. 
 
Note: This is key. Much like food, if we love pizza for example—we are really enjoying how pizza makes our taste buds feel. Similarly, when your son tells you he loves basketball, what he is really saying is that he loves something specific about basketball—an “aspect” of it. It may be the competitive aspect, or the teamwork aspect, or the social aspect or the skill aspect and so on.
 
5. Talk to them about a future long-term goal that will allow them to use the “aspects they enjoy” as part of their job, career or vocation.
 
 Note: If you child loves basketball because of the hand eye coordination skill “aspect” and they also enjoy fixing thinks because of the “hands on problem solving” aspect, they may really enjoy being a surgeon that shares those same aspects.
 
6. Help your teenager actually make a long–term goal—I recommend one that takes ten years to reach—that they can be passionate about reaching.
 
Note: According to research, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a true expert at something. This is approximately four hours a day over ten years. There is no reason 15-18 year olds should not have a goal that they are happt to consistently put four hours a day into achieving.
 
7. Help your teenager work backwards from their ten-year passionate goal.
 
Note: This is what we term “backward planning.” You start with the aim in mind and then work backwards. If your daughter has a goal of becoming an engineer, for example, she should create a plan stating the items she needs to achieve each year over the next ten years to reach that goal. That ten year plan should include both a college major and which college to attend if necessary.
 
Levi Brackman is the co-founder, head-coach and Executive Director of Youth Directions (www.youthdirections.com) a Denver based organization that coaches youth to find their unique passion, purpose and direction in life. He has helped hundreds of youth in the Metro Area make long-term goals that are passionately pursuing. He is also co-author of the bestselling book, “Jewish Wisdom for Business Success.”

Read more by clicking here.

Denver-based firm is helping college-bound students plan their careers

06.19.2012 Denver Post By Electra Draper

College is a great place for students to learn what they want to do for the rest of their lives — true or false? “It’s a prevalent mind-set in this country that you go to college to figure out what you want to do. That’s an expensive way to do it, and it’s not very effective,” says Rabbi Levi Brackman, an educator and co-founder of Youth Directions.

Some of the most important decisions in life are made between the ages of 15 and 22, yet most students are ill-equipped to make them, said Brackman, author of “Jewish Wisdom for Business Success.” A little self-discovery beforehand, he said, is a very good investment.

Brackman established the nonprofit Youth Directions in 2009 to provide students with in-depth and strategic coaching on prospective vocations. It has helped more than 300 students find their callings, he said.

Here’s a quick math lesson from Brackman: Parents pay an average of $80,000 for children to go to college.

About 35 percent of students entering college list their major as “undecided,” he said. About 75 percent will change their major at least once before they graduate. More than half will change their major three times.

Pew Research Center survey conducted this spring found that more than half of Americans (57 percent) said higher education in the U.S. fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend. And 75 percent said college is too expensive for most Americans.

Still, an overwhelming majority of college graduates (86 percent) said college has been a good investment for them personally. Brackman believes students and families can maximize their investment in college if they know what to study.

“What differentiates Youth Directions from other personality-type tests is that our process is one of self-exploration, in which students own the process and internalize the results,” Brackman said. “We help students find their life’s calling instead of simply a career.”

Youth Directions has been invited into several area high schools, many of them “second chance” schools for students who weren’t flourishing.

Yet model students and affluent students would benefit as much as struggling ones, Brackman said. It’s not just youths from poorer families or those with lower academic achievement who lack purpose and passion in their lives, he said. Most teenagers aren’t able to set long-term goals that they care deeply about achieving.

Yet young people can be very clear about what they like and don’t like.

Youth Directions guides them in making an inventory of likes and dislikes and then analyzing these preferences for indications of where passions, skills and potential careers cross paths.

To reach teenagers of all backgrounds, Brackman launched Youth Success Lab in April at 1400 Simms St. in Lakewood, where young people can go, by appointment, to gain insight into their calling. Fees are on a sliding scale depending on students’ means and the extent of participation.

“It’s a laboratory where kids can figure themselves out,” Brackman said.

Students get to shadow successful people in their fields of interest to experience what their jobs are really like.

Bryan Goldstein, in his early 20s and with a couple of years of college behind him, said he dreams of being a rock star. Yet delving into the specific things he likes about being a musician (bringing people together, being creative) at Youth Directions led him to discover other possible paths, such as being a chef and one day owning a restaurant.

“I had no expectations going into it,” Goldstein said of Youth Directions, “and I was really impressed by how much I got out of it.”

Goldstein shadowed chef-owner Frank Bonanno at Luca D’Italia restaurant.

David Finger of Evergreen was enrolled in college as a computer-science major yet was unsure whether that was really what he wanted to do.

When Finger walked into a performing-arts theater to meet with a possible mentor, he knew immediately that being a theatrical sound engineer was something he could get excited about.

Finger said he hoped figuring it out now will help him “avoid a midlife crisis” later on.

Electa Draper: 303-954-1276 or edraper@denverpost.com

Read more by clicking here.

Youth Directions featured on 9 News

Local nonprofit launching youth success lab

Mar 5, 2012

KUSA – A successful youth coaching program in the Denver metro area is opening a lab which offers professional coaching on an individual basis, striving to find passions and explore one’s place in the word.

Youth Directions will open the Youth Success Lab in Lakewood on April 2, after three years of research and development and over a year of working jointly with community groups and local schools in the Denver area.

The Youth Directions coaching program is found in many high schools across Denver and Aurora. Its unique coaching process lets teens find their passion, purpose and direction in life. Long-term goals are then formed, designed at maximizing a college investment.

Parents pay an average of $80,000 for a college education, and approximately 35 percent of college students enter without a declared degree. Studies find 75 percent of all students will change their major at least once during their college career.

Youth Directions helps teens self-explore and find their life’s calling instead of simply a career.

For more information on Youth Directions and the new Youth Success Lab, visit http://www.youthdirections.com.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

Canyon Courier: Helping teens find purpose in life

Youth Success Lab’s one-on-one coaching sessions help reveal what teens are passionate about

By Vicky Gits
Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A new program promises to help young people assess who they are as people, take a look at what really makes them happy, and then come up with a better idea of their purpose in life.

“I never even remotely assumed that I was a science-y guy,” said David Finger, 19, who is investigating a future in cryogenics, oceans engineering and theater sound production.

“Before I was kind of going through everything not really thinking about what I wanted to do. Now I have more of an understanding of myself that led me to wanting to pursue something,” Finger said.

Youth Success Lab, the brainchild of Rabbi Levi Brackman, executive director of Judaism in the Foothills of Evergreen, helps high-schoolers and prospective college students find out what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

Brackman is the executive director of the nonprofit Youth Directions, based in Golden at Colfax Avenue and Simms Street in an old school. Youth Success Lab is an offshoot of Youth Directions.

Youth Success Lab, which debuts April 2, consists of eight one-on-one personal coaching sessions designed to lead a teenager through discovering who they are and how they fit into the world. The cost is $400.

“At the end, participants will have a long-term goal they are passionate about doing,” Brackman said.

The program is based on work that Brackman has been doing for the last couple of years in the public schools with various individuals, at-risk youths and larger groups. Youth Directions currently works with a dozen schools and youth organizations.

“It’s a process of exploration. No one tells them what they should be. We are coaching them. You can’t tell them what their passion is,” Brackman said.

“It’s the concept of flow. It’s about what you do when you are in flow. What do you do when it’s a snow day? What are things you really enjoy in life? What are you bantering about?”

The kids are asked to choose three things they potentially really love, and their mentors help set them up with informational interviews with three people who have been successful. Frank Bonanno, a successful Denver restaurateur, sat down with a couple of kids and invited them to work in his restaurant for the experience, Brackman said.

The average college education costs $80,000, and 75 percent of college students change their major three times, Brackman says, arguing that spending $400 to get a clearer idea of one’s calling makes more sense.

Finger, who went through an early version of the program, described the process.

“You get a package full of papers. You go down once or twice a week and sit there and talk with Levi or one of the other coaches, and they talk you through all the papers. They ask you questions about yourself, and it makes you ask more questions about yourself.”

Finger also went online and searched for jobs that looked interesting and that he would love to do on a daily basis, but a lot of it was sitting in the classroom just talking.

Aislyn Carrillo, 17, a Ralston Valley senior, said she has gained a sense of who she is and where she wants to go.

“I would recommend it to anybody. I didn’t know I had a purpose. Now I have a way more positive attitude and I wake up excited, knowing I’m going to pursue and achieve it one day,” Carrillo said.

In the middle of the process, Carrillo has so far compiled a list of 50 things she likes to do. The next step is breaking it down to see what she likes about those things and what is the common thread. She is looking into either journalism or broadcasting as a career.

The program is not for people who are looking just for a way to make the most money or have an important career.

“Everybody has a purpose. We are not talking about career counseling,” Brackman said.

“The passion that you love is part of who you are. It’s not what can I do that can make me a living. It’s what can I do that makes me who I am,” Brackman said. “A career is something that you do for advancement. … A calling is something you do whether you get paid for it or not,” Brackman said.

Press Release February 16, 2012

 Youth Directions© to Launch Youth Success Lab April 2

Rabbi and Business Author Offers Youth Tested, Endorsed Opportunity

GOLDEN, CO – Youth Directions will unveil and launch its new Youth Success Lab on April 2, 2012. Co-founded by author, rabbi and educator Levi Brackman, Youth Directions provides in-depth and strategic coaching that empowers youth to find their unique and positive purpose in life. Through its partnerships with local schools and youth organizations, Youth Directions has so far helped over 300 students, including many at-risk and underprivileged teens in the Denver Metro area, find their passion and purpose in life.

After writing the best-selling “Jewish Wisdom for Business Success,” Brackman was inspired to make ideas that lead to successful outcomes accessible to youth. Brackman interviewed dozens of extremely successful business people for the book and determined one trait common to them all. “They were all purposeful and passionate about what they are doing,” says Brackman.

“I also knew, from years as an educator,” he adds, “that teenagers today lack a sense of purposefulness and do not have the ability to make long-term goals they are passionate about achieving.”

In 2009, Brackman launched, with a benefactor, the “beta” Youth Directions program. Today it is a well-researched and highly rated, multi-step coaching process implemented with youth all around the Denver Metro Area.

“I’ve worked with youth for years,” says Brackman. “It is not just youth from low socio-economic backgrounds that lack purposefulness and passion in their lives; rather, it is a generational malaise that crosses all of society.”

“To reach teenagers of all backgrounds, on April 2, 2012, Youth Directions is launching the ‘Youth Success Lab,’” he adds. “It is a space that is inviting and successful looking. It’s a place where young people can come to be coached to learn about themselves and their passions so that they can find their own success — one that is unique to them. It is an opportunity for youth to explore how they uniquely fit into the world.”

For more information about the Youth Success Lab or the passion/purpose-finding coaching process, please contact Levi Brackman, Executive Director, at l.brackman@youthdirections.org, 303.462.5777, or www.youthdirections.com.

About Youth Directions

Youth Directions provides in-depth and strategic coaching that empowers youth to find their unique and positive life purpose. More than a simple test or quiz, Youth Directions takes youth through a process of self discovery that leads to recognition of their life’s passions and unique purpose. To date, Youth Directions has coached more than 300 teenagers from all walks of life to identify successful futures that are unique to them — futures with potentials that are beyond their wildest (and their parents’ wildest) imaginations. For more information, visit www.youthdirections.com or call 303.462.5777.

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