Educational Institutions

Steppingstone Foundation, Inc.

Life. Transforming. Results

Boston, MA   |  http://www.tsf.org

Mission

The Steppingstone Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that develops and implements programs to prepare students from historically marginalized communities for college success. Each Steppingstone Scholar commits in 4th or 5th grade to the hard work necessary to earn their college degree. In return, we commit to supporting them every step of the way.

Ruling year info

1991

Principal Officer

Ms. Kelly D. Glew

Main address

One Appleton Street, 4th Floor

Boston, MA 02116 USA

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EIN

04-3086666

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The personal and economic benefits of a college education are widely understood. However, while an increasing number of Boston students are attaining post-secondary degrees, the majority are not. An April 2018 Boston Private Industry Council study cited that just 38% of Boston Public Schools graduates completed a post-secondary credential within six years of high school graduation. Among the 81% who enrolled in two- or four-year college immediately after high school, only 48% successfully completed a degree. For many young people, the path to college is uncertain, and the road can be difficult. The challenges are particularly daunting for young people growing up in lower income households, young people of color, and/or first-generation college students. Graduation rates are lowest among students from these historically marginalized communities, and they remain underrepresented at colleges and universities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

The Steppingstone Academy

Founded in 1990, the Steppingstone Academy identifies students from historically marginalized communities in Boston and prepares them to enter and succeed at top independent and public exam schools as a pivotal step on the pathway to college. The Steppingstone Academy begins as early as fifth grade with a rigorous 14-month academic preparation program designed to bridge the gap between where the students are academically and where they need to be to gain admission to a competitive college preparatory school in grade 6 or 7. Following completion of the academic preparation program and school placement, Steppingstone Scholars receive a comprehensive array of supportive academic, social-emotional, and college -readiness services throughout middle school, high school, and college until they achieve a college degree. The Steppingstone Academy currently serves more than 1,300 Scholars in grades 5 to 18.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth (0-19 years)
Young Adults (20-25 years)
Budget
$2,249,507

Launched in 2011, the College Success Academy is based on Steppingstone’s proven model of academic preparation and support beginning in the fifth grade and long-term support services to enable students to succeed academically, complete high school, and ultimately, enroll in and graduate from a four-year college. While the emphasis of our core program, The Steppingstone Academy, is on helping Boston students to gain admission to selective independent and public exam schools as a pathway to college, the College Success Academy’s focus is school-based, featuring partnerships with four K-8 Boston public schools, and directed toward building a college-going pipeline for students attending and likely to graduate from a Boston public high school. The College Success Academy’s academic preparation program begins in grade 5 and focuses on English language arts, math, social studies, and science to address achievement gaps and help students succeed academically in elementary and middle school. It has two stages: 1) Lower House: Students in grades 5 and 6 receive 26 months of classroom-based, out-of-school time instruction over three summers and during the academic years in between. 2) Upper House: Scholars in grades 7 and 8 meet weekly for workshops and enrichment activities and receive intensive advising and individualized tutoring during the academic year. An important component is help with the process of selecting a high school to attend in grade 9. College Success Academy Scholars who complete the four-year academic component in grade 8 (as well those who have tested into a Boston public exam school in grade 7) then receive a comprehensive array of supportive academic, social-emotional, and college -readiness services throughout middle school, high school, and college until they achieve a college degree. The College Success Academy currently serves more than 200 Scholars in grades 5 to 13.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth (0-19 years)
Young Adults (20-25 years)
Budget
$919,249

Created in 2007, the mission of the National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA) is to connect the people, practices, and innovations essential for eliminating barriers to educational access and college and career success for underserved students. Our vision is to make it possible for all students to access high-quality learning opportunities and to thrive at every phase of their unique educational journeys. The work is grounded in NPEA’s five core values: 1. Student success is at the core of our partnerships; 2. Promoting educational equity is a moral imperative; 3. Our community of educators reaches students across the entire educational journey; 4. We strive to be a diverse and inclusive community; and 5. We focus on measurable outcomes. As a membership association, the NPEA community currently includes 3,000 education professionals from over 360 member organizations and schools in 37 states. Members collectively serve more than half a million underrepresented students each year and include community-based organizations, academic enrichment programs, public, charter, and private schools, and higher education institutions. NPEA has grown and thrived because its members continue to express the need and desire to come together with other educators to support students at every phase of their unique educational journeys. Each year, NPEA holds a national conference, which attracts more than 400 attendees. The theme of the 2020 conference is Reaching Out and Rising Up: Forging Ahead for Student Success. We also offer a small number of regional and local events, monthly webinars, a Job Board and monthly Jobs Bulletin, e-newsletters and other communications, research briefs, one-on-one information requests, discounts on services such as test preparation for students, and more. One of the most valuable benefits for members is the NPEA Data Counts project. Launched in 2015, this project encourages NPEA member programs to track ten key indicators of access and success for underserved students deemed essential to measuring the progress of both students and programs in the educational equity space. Through this project, NPEA encourages ongoing data collection across our network to define and demonstrate the collective impact of NPEA members in improving college readiness, access, and success for underserved students.

Population(s) Served
Academics
Students
Budget
$502,183

Where we work

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

Founded in 1990, The Steppingstone Foundation is a non-profit organization that develops and implements programs that prepare students from historically marginalized communities for educational opportunities that lead to college success. Each Steppingstone Scholar commits in 4th or 5th grade to the hard work necessary to earn their college degree. In return, we commit to supporting them every step of the way. Our straightforward, long-term goal is to increase the number of students from historically marginalized communities who graduate from a four-year college. We envision a more just and equitable world where all students can actualize the life-transforming benefits of a college degree.

OUR PROVEN PROGRAM MODEL Steppingstone prepares students from historically marginalized communities in Boston for educational achievement, while also addressing the systemic barriers that many will encounter in pursuing access to college. Our programmatic approach to improving college outcomes for these students is distinct in the way that it combines the following four elements into an effective completion strategy. These elements are based on our 30 years of experience, research in the field, and learning from our National Partnership for Educational Access which gathers and analyzes best practices among programs across the nation. 1. We intervene early, before the important middle school years. Preparation for college must begin early, as students who do not build a strong academic foundation in middle school will struggle with a college preparatory curriculum in high school. It is also an ideal time to become part of a college-bound peer group and begin to think about college as a realistic possibility. 2. Our experienced teachers provide rigorous academic programming during the summer and school year to help students prepare for middle or high school entrance exams and a college preparatory curriculum in high school. Steppingstone Scholars begin to prepare academically, socially, and emotionally for the path to college in Grade 5 or 6. They bridge academic gaps and build organizational and study skills that will benefit them in middle school and beyond. 3. We help Scholars place into or select the best possible middle and high schools for them, based on a combination of educational quality and personal fit. Attending a competitive high school with a strong college preparatory curriculum significantly increases a student’s likelihood of earning a college degree. We help students prepare for entrance exams and provide guidance around the application and selection process for Boston public exam and independent schools. For those Scholars who do not place into a public exam school or independent school (or who do not wish to apply), Steppingstone advisors help Scholars and their families navigate the complex high school selection process and choose the best public (including pilot and in-district charter), charter, or parochial/Catholic school option for them. 4. Our professional advisors provide supportive services to students all the way through college to encourage persistence and help them overcome obstacles that may interfere with success. We work to ensure that high school Scholars meet the progress indicators that will keep them on track. OUR NATIONAL REACH Steppingstone creates platforms for learning and idea exchange through our National Partnership for Educational Access to strengthen the field of college access and success. With more than 360 member organizations in 37 states serving more than half a million students across the country, NPEA drives progress, innovation, collaboration, and excellence in the field.

With more than 30 years of experience, an evidence-based approach, and proven results, Steppingstone is recognized as a national leader in the field of college access and success. Our core program model, The Steppingstone Academy, continues to produce strong results. Over the past 30 years, 99% of Steppingstone Scholars have graduated from high school, 93% have enrolled in a four-year college, and 80% have obtained a four-year college degree within six years.* These results well exceed both local and national high school and college graduation statistics. To date, more than 900 Steppingstone Scholars have earned a college degree. Since our first class of 14 Scholars in 1990, Steppingstone has taken The Steppingstone Academy model of preparing students for success at independent schools and . . . 1. Developed programming to prepare students for Boston’s three public exam schools. As admissions have become increasingly competitive, Steppingstone has been recognized as one of the most effective ways for Boston students from low-income neighborhoods to gain admission to these selective schools. 2. Added program entry points and admissions options to increases students’ opportunities to gain admission to a right-fit college-preparatory school at multiple grade levels. 3. Expanded services to include college readiness and college admissions support for high school students and extended support to college-age Scholars to ensure persistence and, ultimately, college graduation. 4. Modified our program model to create a college-going pipeline within Boston public schools through the creation of the College Success Academy. 5. Replicated our program model in Hartford and Philadelphia, both of which serve hundreds of Scholars and have further innovated to meet the needs of their communities. 6. Established the National Partnership for Educational Access, a membership association that connects the people, practices, and innovations essential for eliminating barriers to educational access and college and career success for underserved students. *Among Scholars who completed our academic preparation program and for whom information is available.

The Steppingstone Foundation is a data-driven organization that tracks the progress and educational outcomes of Steppingstone Scholars from program acceptance in fourth or fifth grade through college completion. Our goal is to increase the number of students from historically marginalized communities in Boston who graduate from a four-year college. We work to successfully meet or exceed the following objectives among the more than 1,500 Scholars enrolled each year: 1. Academic preparation and placement period a. 85% complete The Steppingstone Academy’s 14-month program in grade 5 or 6 b. 75% complete the College Success Academy’s 26-month program in grades 5 to 8 2. Middle and high school placement: 100% of Scholars attend the best middle or high school for them based on academic quality and personal fit. 3. 90% of Scholars in The Steppingstone Academy place into an independent or public exam school. 4. 99% of Scholars graduate from high school. 5. 90% of high school graduates enroll in a four-year college. 6. 80% will earn a four-year college degree within six years. Data for these measures are collected from student report cards, results on state testing, and from information reported by Scholars to their Steppingstone advisors. Steppingstone keeps detailed records on Scholar program attendance and school placements, collected annually. Our evaluation database captures each Scholar’s journey through the middle-grade, high school, and college years, tracking matriculation to various schools and years of graduation. College enrollment and completion information is verified with the National Student Clearinghouse’s database. As an additional source of program measurement, Steppingstone administers pre- and post-summer testing to Scholars enrolled in summer session programs to assess the ability of Steppingstone’s instructional classes to promote learning gains and prevent summer learning loss.

Over the past 30 years, 99% of Steppingstone Scholars have graduated from high school, 93% have enrolled in a four-year college, and 80% have obtained a four-year college degree within six years.* These results well exceed both local and national high school and college graduation statistics. To date, more than 900 Steppingstone Scholars have earned a college degree. Since Steppingstone opened our doors nearly 30 years ago, we have been driven by the desire to make a meaningful impact in the lives of as many students as possible, in the City of Boston and beyond. In order to continuously respond to opportunities and the changing educational landscape, Steppingstone’s culture has prioritized innovation, evaluation, and impact. As a result, what started as a small program preparing 14 sixth graders for admission to independent schools now admits 10 times that number. With programming that spans fifth grade through college graduation, Steppingstone annually serves 1,500 Scholars who attend a wide range of schools in the Boston area, including independent, public, and Catholic/parochial schools. Over the years, Steppingstone has expanded its reach across and within Boston public schools, replicated its core program model in Hartford and Philadelphia, and created a national association to connect hundreds of programs that were working in isolation to improve college access and success for historically marginalized students across the country. Steppingstone undertook a strategic planning process (completed in June 2019) with the purpose of providing a roadmap to guide the organization over the next three years. Four overarching goals emerged: 1. Provide intentional and meaningful services to Scholars across multiple identified pathways to college, building on the strengths of The Steppingstone Academy and College Success Academy. 2. Leverage our successes and concentrate our efforts, with emphasis on strengthening our services to Scholars attending Boston public schools in order to achieve greater impact. 3. Foster a culture of consistent evaluation and reflection to evolve and improve our programming. 4. Position ourselves for future growth by investing in what we know works. To achieve these goals, Steppingstone identified two strategic priorities: 1. Develop one Steppingstone direct-service program that incorporates the strengths of both The Steppingstone Academy and the College Success Academy, recognizing that there are multiple pathways to college and strengthening the services provided to Scholars who attend BPS middle and high schools. 2. Increase alignment between Steppingstone and the National Partnership for Educational Access in order to increase the profiles of both entities, with a focus on deepening our impact in Boston and New England. Achieving these goals will increase our ability to ensure success not only for Steppingstone Scholars in Boston, but for students served by NPEA college access organizations across the United States.

Financials

Steppingstone Foundation, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Steppingstone Foundation, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 1/16/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Isabelle Loring

Director, Nantucket Conservation Foundation

Term: 2018 -

A. Peter Monaco

Managing Director, Raptor Capital Management

Brian Conway

Managing Director, TA Associates

John Simon

Managing Director, Sigma Prime Ventures

Lucy Galbraith

Managing Member, Kindred Capital Advisors LLC

Donavan Brown '95

Asst. VP, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.

Mary Driscoll

Associate Superintendent for Elementary & Middle Schools, Boston Public Schools

Isabelle Loring

Director, Nantucket Conservation Foundation

Richard Melvoin

Christina Wing-O'Donnell

Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School

Mike Pascucci

Principal, Rose Grove Capital Management, LLC

Todd Bland

Head of School, Milton Academy

Denise Casper

U.S. District Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Pam Holding

Co-Head of Equities, Fidelity Management and Research

Joshua Levy

Partner, Ropes & Gray LLP

Kate Gilbane

Volunteer

Jonathan Goldstein

Senior Advisor, TA Associates

Tricia Schade

Director, Visual Thinking Strategies

Joanna Jacquet Araujo '98

Assistant Clerk Magistrate, Massachusetts Trial Court at the Suffolk Superior Court

Vincent Chiang

Vice Chair, Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital

Betsy Danzinger

Lower School Admissions Associate, The Fessenden School

Peg Flanagan

Trustee, Grace Edwards Scholarship Fund

Fabien Fondriest

CEO, Homesite Insurance

Debbie Gelb

Robert Henderson

Education Consultant, Resource Group 175

Dr. Pinder-Amaker

Director, College Mental Health Program, McLean Hospital, Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Hilary Steinert

Trustee, The Fenn School

Jenny Weymouth

Tricia Schade

Director, Visual Thinking Strategies

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Not applicable
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Not applicable
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Not applicable
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Keywords

educational opportunity, academic preparation, college access, college persistence, college graduation, Boston Public Schools