The Readiness Project

Readiness is a right

There is a science to readiness. We make that science clear and actionable.


The Science of Readiness

Readiness is the dynamic combination of being prepared and willing to take advantage of life's opportunities while managing its challenges. What will it take to ensure all young people are ready? We have more than two decades’ worth of research to help us act with precision. There is a science to readiness.

The Readiness Ecosystem
We must consider the full human ecosystem in which a young person grows and develops.The Readiness Project synthesizes over 300 reports, studies, journal articles and books—ranging from neuroscience and youth development to systems thinking and economic and workforce trends—and crosswalks the standards and frameworks from each major youth system. The result is a holistic and systems-neutral science of readiness and the case for why it matters.


Designing for Readiness: What Gets in the Way?

In America, just about every sector and system is devoting significant resources and expert thinking to understanding what young people need in order to be ready for college, work and life. These thoughtful and important efforts are often fragmented. We find that they can be aligned around four common readiness traps-serious and often unintended conditions in youth systems and settings that get in the way of readiness. These traps disproportionately affect some young people. They lead to gaps among groups of young people, and between the skills youth have and what they need in order to be ready.


Readiness Traps are serious traps in systems and settings that affect some young people disproportionately, narrowing or cutting off their paths forward.

The most common traps are due to using these metrics which serve as proxies for development.

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ageas proxy
for stage

completionas proxy
for competence

timeas proxy
for progress

accessas proxy
for quality






Readiness Gaps are harmful differences between young people in achievement, expectations, opportunities and skills.

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The Readiness Abilities, Skillsets, and Mindsets

What Does It Mean To Be Ready? We identify ten broad and dynamic abilities we use every day, no matter who we are, what our backgrounds or ambitions. We constantly put these abilities to use and adjust how much or little we use, according to our circumstances. These readiness abilities are supported by 16 skillsets and 12 mindsets, or clusters of habits, attitudes and beliefs we need most often. The abilities, skillsets and mindsets can all be developed, practiced and strengthened, by any young person, anywhere. If we are intentional, we can equip adults and young people to drive efforts to strengthen them in all settings and systems.

The Readiness Practices: What Does It Take To Get There?

The Readiness Project identifies four sets of Developmental Practices that nurture readiness, and can happen anywhere and at any time. Systems, settings, adults and peers can all put these practices in place, and the practices can be mapped and measured. To be effective, systems and communities must align their official requirements with these developmental practices. Read more on the practices and examples of what they look like in action.


environments that are

  • Community-oriented
  • Relational
  • Resourced
  • Safe and structured
  • Socially & culturally responsive
  • Strengths-based
  • Youth-centered

People who

  • Coach % care
  • Equip & empower
  • Skillfully plan $ execute
  • Train & access

Experiences that

  • Are stage & age appropriate
  • Build skills & mastery
  • Challenge & engage
  • Connect to real life
  • Encourage agency & choice
  • Promote group work

Spaces and time to

  • Observe & explore
  • Practice & demonstrate
  • Apply & connect
  • Reflect & refine

Readiness by Design:

Understand the research behind the movement to make readiness a right for all young people. The primer is an easy-to-read examination of the science and thinking behind the Readiness Project and the Traps & Gaps, Readiness Abilities and Readiness Practices. It includes practical ways to put the research to use in your community.

Modular Tools: Short, printable takeaways of the research components of The Readiness Project.