My Life for College (aka “Better Futures” or “Project FUTURES”)

My Life for College (ML-C) is based on the My Life for Self-Determination Model (MLM) and specifically focuses on promoting post-secondary enrollment and retention. This coaching program is for agencies or institutions serving young people in foster care (or similar settings) who are either interested in or already attending college or postsecondary training programs.

  • The Better Futures program was tested with high school seniors who were in foster care and had mental health stressors. Coaches were college students with shared lived experiences, and the intervention included a campus-based summer institute facilitated by near-peers. Better Futures increased college enrollment and improved well-being, and is now rated by the California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare as being supported by research evidence (Geenen et al., 2015; Philips et al., 2015).
  • Project FUTURES uses the same coaching approach with freshmen and sophomore college students with foster care histories who are already enrolled in college and experiencing mental health stressors. Forthcoming findings show intervention impact on self-efficacy and mental health empowerment.

The program model includes:

  • Over the course of 9–12 months, students meet with their coaches for 60–90 minutes of community-based interaction at least twice a month. Coaching supports post-secondary success by focusing on relationship development, support during community-based activities to pursue goals, and instruction for self-determination skill development. For example, coaches may offer an empathetic and affirming ear around stressors a student is facing, support students to rehearse a skill (e.g., negotiating with a teacher), and guide students through activities tied to their goal achievement (e.g., visit a collee).
  • Students also participate in 4–5 near-peer mentoring workshops, co-led by older young adults with similar lived experiences. Workshops topics are selected by students and provide opportunities for learning (e.g., scavenger hunt to find programs on campus), sharing experiences and ideas, and engaging in fun activities.

"Better Futures increased college enrollment and improved well-being."

ML-College coaches are adult staff who have formal training and personal commitment around positive youth development (e.g., staff with relevant youth work experience), and/or are staff or college students who have a combination of training and lived experience managing challenges similar to the youth being served (e.g., foster care, juvenile justice, mental health).

Training and Certification in the ML-College Models

We offer two approaches for sites interested in training their staff in the postsecondary-oriented versions of the My Life model (Better Futures and FUTURES):

1. We offer training and supervision to certify your site staff in delivering the My Life Model to fidelity as an evidence-based practice (EBP). This includes implementation support, on-site staff training, supervising any staff delivering the model to students, and over the course of two years, certifying an in-house trainer/supervisor to ensuring ongoing model fidelity at your site. Full certification involves:

  • Training your staff on-site over 3–4 days at start-up
  • Providing monthly individual and group supervision to any staff delivering the coaching model to youth for one year:
    • Coaches document fidelity and also videotape one meeting with each of their youth for supervisors to assess the use of key practice techniques.
    • Supervision focuses on highlighting youth accomplishments or strengths; naming and discussing the application of key skills; supporting youth to carry out an activity; and collaboratively identifying next steps.
    • First-year certification includes training a staff member at your site to become the in-house trainer/supervisor for any staff using the model to fidelity in the second year (and beyond).
  • For this approach there are start-up costs to train, supervise, and implement the model over the first two years, and then ongoing annual licensing costs to continue to use the model as an EBP. Depending on context, needs, and the number of staff being trained, estimated start-up costs are $5000–9000 for the first year (including all travel and materials), $2500–6000 for the second year, and ongoing annual licensing costs to use the model as an EBP between $1500–3000.

2. We also offer staff training in the model for agencies or institutions interested in implementing selected youth skill-building components as an enhancement to ongoing service delivery or student support programming :

  • This involves one in-person training and ongoing technical assistance (quarterly webinars/check-ins for staff, and optional monthly staff supervisor support) for one year as your staff implement selected model skills and coaching strategies.
  • This approach is delivered over one year and includes a one-time training and licensing cost. Depending on context, needs, and the number of staff being trained, estimated costs for this option are $4500–6500 (US) for one year.
  • Compared to the certification option described above, this approach does not include formal certification of staff, and does not enable an agency to say they are delivering My Life Model as an EBP for funding or promotional purposes.

Please contact Jennifer Blakeslee ( with information about your agency’s needs and the type of MLM training you are interested in, and we will be happy to discuss estimated cost for your specific resources and context.