Why we call our staff Success Coaches

Why we call our staff Success Coaches

June 27, 2023
What comes to mind when you think of the word “coach”? Maybe a family friend that mentored you? A leader of a sports team that pushes the players towards victory? A life coach? We get a few raised eyebrows when people learn that our youth workers are called Success Coaches. Some have never heard the term used as a professional title before, others have seen it before, but in different contexts.

At Next Step To Success, we are grounded in the framework of the Success Sequence, a 3-step formula that coincides with a 97% chance of economic mobility and stability in adulthood.

  1. Finish high school.
  2. Maintain a full-time job once you finish school.
  3. Get married before you have children and stay married.

As we focus primarily on teens, our points of emphasis are the 1st and 2nd steps:

  1. Finish high school. (Staff help encourage healthy academic habits and high attendance, which results in better chances of graduating high school on time.)
  2. Maintain a full-time job once you finish school. (Our numerous activities, partner workshops, and field trips also expose youth to potential career paths and helpful workforce skills.)

Our youth workers that lead youth down the path towards those steps? Success Coaches.

Let’s breakdown the title.


What does success look like? What does it mean to you? What did it mean to you a year ago? What will it mean to you in the future?

A few years ago, Glamour magazine released a video asking boys and men from ages 5 to 75 how they defined success. It’s fascinating to see the way the answers evolved as the ages of the responders increased.

Interestingly, youth in their teens predominantly mentioned happiness as part of their definition. This same word returned throughout much of the video, along with health, family, friends, and financial stability.

At Next Step To Success (NSTS), we believe all youth want to succeed, all youth can succeed, and all youth deserve a chance to earn success. The success they look for may be centered around graduating high school, joining the military, going to college, opening their own business, and more. Youth also have smaller successes, short-term goals that they achieve like improving a score on a math test or completing homework consistently.

The trick then becomes, how do we encourage youth to develop plans for all of these goals and reach the success they are looking for?


Coaching involves training to prepare for a goal. It is often related to Human Resource departments and businesses, school settings, and sports teams. Yet, the prevalence of life coaching has expanded the way we interact with coaches. Life coaches work with individuals for personal and professional goals. Often, they serve adults and can be pretty pricey.

NSTS recognizes a step in life that may need some of the most preparation is the transition through adolescence into adulthood. We take our role in preparing youth for their future very seriously, and we do so by focusing on adolescents and providing an after school and summer program at no-cost to the youth and their families.

Providing coaches to youth that can guide them in their journey toward success is the basis of how we operate. We believe firmly in the research behind the Success Sequence and want the youth we serve to be prepared for each step of that sequence. In order to do so, we work to help them build their grit, use a growth mindset, and develop learned optimism as skills they will need to succeed in life and excel in the workplace.

Isn’t that just mentorship?

Coaching is youth-centered, rather than staff-centered. Mentors often share their knowledge and past experiences. Mentorship is a key part of youth development and relationship-building, but coaches don’t necessarily depend on their own stories and experiences to share wisdom as much as encouraging the youth to see the life lessons that may be hidden within their own experiences. Rather than an approach of “this is how I handled a similar situation…” coaches guide the youth into problem solving and critical thinking. The youth, with assistance, is able to find their own unique solutions to their unique situations. In fact, allowing youth to see the cause and effect of their own decisions can help them use their growth mindset. They see that everyone and anyone, especially themselves, can grow and achieve rather than believing it is only possible for their role models or those they already look up to.

Next Step To Success youth, our Success Stories, will have a lifelong connection to the program. They will be able to come to use for support or guidance if needed. However, in many ways the direct contact is temporary. We hope that the hard work we do with the youth now will give them the skills to be more independent in the future. We will be there if the youth need us, yet we strive to give them the tools they need to face their journey without being dependent on us. This speaks to the selfless nature of our staff. We know we may not see the fruits of our labor. The youth will go on to have some of their most amazing accomplishments in adulthood if they can maintain the grit and growth mindsets they have in the program.

All in a day’s work

The decision to title our youth workers Success Coaches is not one that we took lightly. Careful consideration was put into finding the best way to showcase the brilliant work being done each day. Ultimately, we found the perfect fit. It represents who we are and what we do. Whether picking up youth from school and driving them home, developing study skills, introducing youth to new hobbies, or planning activities that will expand skills that youth will need in the workforce; our staff are always finding ways to coach youth towards success. Coaching youth toward success, grittier lives, more optimism, and a growth mindset has become such an engrained part of who we are, it even drives our commitment to professional development and developing relationships with other local organizations.

Because at the end of the day, we all could use a Success Coach in our life.

Want to know more about our Success Coaches? You can get to know some of our staff via our Instagram and Facebook pages. You can also click here to learn more about the Leadership Team that works with them.

If you know a youth in Norfolk between the ages of 13-16 and would like them to work with our amazing team of Success Coaches and have access to enriching learning opportunities for teens, you can fill out an application by clicking here.