Your life. Your journey. Your choice.

aka Footsteps   |   New York, NY   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 20-0666923


Footsteps supports and affirms individuals and families who have left, or are contemplating leaving, insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in their quest to lead self-determined lives.

Ruling year info


Chief Executive Officer

Mrs. Lani Santo

Main address

114 John St Unit 930

New York, NY 10272 USA

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Subject area info

Mental health counseling

Human services

Personal services

Special population support

Population served info

Jewish people

NTEE code info

Services to Promote the Independence of Specific Populations (P80)

IRS subsection

501(c)(3) Public Charity

IRS filing requirement

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

Tax forms


Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Every year, hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and women attempt to explore the world beyond their insular communities. These courageous individuals struggle to redefine their lives despite punitive reactions from family and friends, little if any secular education or relevant work history, a lack of experience with modern gender roles, and, in some cases, a limited command of English.

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?

Support Services

Support Services help Footsteps members access critical resources and peer connections so they can be successful and independent in their journeys. These services include: peer support groups, one-to-one counseling with staff social workers, career and educational resources (we run scholarship and internship programs), and family and legal supports for parents (in partnership with the New York Legal Assistance Group) who wish to maintain relationships and access custody/visitation rights with their children. Finally, our cross-cultural and life skills programs close the gap in secular culture and independent living -- including everything from dating, relationships & sexuality workshops to fashion nights to financial management.

Population(s) Served
Jewish people

Community Engagement Programs build the strength of our network to ensure that members have friends and allies along their journey. We offer monthly social programs, an overnight camping trip in the summer and holiday celebrations year-round. Our annual event, Footsteps Celebrates, rejoices in the many accomplishments of our members throughout the year. Finally, as our members move on in their transitions, Footsteps has created leadership opportunities for them to give back to new members and the organization via our Membership Advisory Council, Peer Support and Court Companion programs.

Population(s) Served
Jewish people

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

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

Footsteps supports and affirms individuals and families who have left, or are contemplating leaving, insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in their quest to lead self-determined lives.\r\n\r\nFootsteps is the only organization in North America assisting people on this journey. Based in New York, Footsteps provides a range of services, including social and emotional support, educational and vocational guidance, workshops and social activities, and access to resources. Thanks to Footsteps, former ultra-Orthodox Jews have a safe, supportive, and flourishing community to turn to as they work to define their own identities, build new connections, and lead productive lives on their own terms.\r\n\r\nUltimately, Footsteps envisions a world in which all who choose to leave insular religious communities are able to lead self-determined lives, have the resources to flourish, and are fully supported in achieving the educational and cultural acclimation necessary for a richly integrated life within mainstream society.

Footsteps meets the needs of its population through a combination of emotional and social support as well as practical services – everything from academic scholarships to workshops on dating to chulent cook-offs. \r\n\r\nFootsteps' core program has two pillars: \r\n\r\nSupport Services: help members access critical resources to safely and successfully transition to the secular world. This includes peer support groups, 1:1 supportive counseling with social workers, academic and career advising, a summer internship program, academic scholarships, referrals to job readiness training, legal representation for those in custody and divorce disputes, and life skills programs. \r\n\r\nCommunity Engagement: builds the strength of our network to ensure that members have friends and allies along their journey. We offer large social programs, holiday celebrations, an Art Show, camping trip, leadership opportunities for members and, most recently, two new microgrants that enable members to pursue their passions and launch social change initiatives.

Footsteps was founded in 2003 by Malkie Schwartz. Having left a Hasidic community herself, Malkie sought to address the needs of other ultra-Orthodox individuals who similarly wanted to explore life in the secular world. This is one of the key strengths and capabilities of the organization -- it was built by those with firsthand experience. \r\n\r\nTo date, Footsteps has directly served over 1,300 people across its two offices (Manhattan and Rockland). In the last year alone, Footsteps work led to the following: \r\n\r\nIn total, over the last year, Footsteps applauds the following achievements:\r\n-- 21 members started a program to prepare for the High School Equivalency Exam\r\n-- 19 members started college\r\n-- 7 members started advanced degrees\r\n-- 5 earned Associates or Bachelor's degrees\r\n-- 3 earned advanced degrees\r\n-- 12 members secured jobs\r\n-- 3 members received prestigious fellowships, including a single member who received the Diversity Fellowship through Columbia, the Turner fellowship through Stonybrook, and the prestigious NSF graduate fellowship in her studies at the Pure Math PhD program at Columbia University\r\n-- 1 member received a Fulbright award to University of Toronto Law where he will engage in a comparative analysis of real estate law in Jewish, Islamic and secular law.\r\n\r\nBeyond the member outputs, Footsteps has become a thought leader around an issue that continues to gain attention in both the national and Jewish media, making headlines in "The New York Times Magazine" and "Hadassah" alike in 2017. The Orthodox community is the fastest growing segment of the American Jewish community, and Footsteps educates the public and leverages our unique understanding of this community to serve as a cultural translator between the nascent movement of former ultra-Orthodox Jews and the wider Jewish community.\r\n\r\nWe would like to conclude with the testimony of two alumni, who are the best judges of Footsteps capabilities.\r\n\r\nFor many people leaving ultra-Orthodoxy, myself included, Footsteps has served as a safety net. To say that the work Footsteps does is life-saving is an understatement. \r\n— Shulem Deen\r\n\r\nThe Footsteps community is built on a shared experience we all had. The place where the road home is lost and a thousand new roads have just opened up. \r\n— Ushy Katz

Since our founding in 2003, Footsteps has directly served over 1,300 individuals and we have helped build a network of over 5,000 formerly ultra-Orthodox Jews.\r\n\r\nThe strategic priorities for fiscal years 2017 through 2019, adopted by the board, include:\r\n1) Engage and build community for and with 1,000 formerly ultra-Orthodox individuals in the NYC metro area. \r\n2) Broaden our reach. \r\n3) Serve as a thought leader and movement builder for the formerly ultra-Orthodox, \r\n4) Invest in internal capacity, culture, infrastructure and systems to sustainably achieve aims. \r\n\r\nAt the top of the agenda for the coming year is investing in our community engagement offerings, including a pilot partnership with Moishe House to support informal member-led programming and help Footsteppers connect with progressive Jewish networks. We plan on broadening our reach, by increasing accessibility of services to potential members - near and far - who cannot physically access our space. Finally, we will begin planning for a day-long convening on issues facing members.\r\n\r\nLonger term, Footsteps envisions moving more and more into a thought leadership and convener role and will focus on how to share resources, replicate services and provide capacity building support and potentially fiscal sponsorship to allied groups across the globe.


Fiscal year: Oct 01 - Sep 30
Financial documents
Footsteps Inc 2021 2021 2019 2017 Footsteps Inc 2016
done  Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant. info

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 13.42 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 4.3 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 19% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Oct 01 - Sep 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Oct 01 - Sep 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Oct 01 - Sep 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of FOOTSTEPS INC’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $316,574 $222,928 $496,255 $530,504 -$714,926
As % of expenses 14.0% 7.9% 14.5% 14.7% -17.5%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $316,574 $222,928 $496,255 $510,470 -$740,719
As % of expenses 14.0% 7.9% 14.5% 14.1% -18.0%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $4,394,649 $2,464,211 $3,276,179 $5,133,563 $2,523,411
Total revenue, % change over prior year 92.7% -43.9% 33.0% 56.7% -50.8%
Program services revenue 0.4% 0.3% 0.2% 0.0% 0.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.0% 2.8% 0.8% 0.4% 1.1%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 8.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 99.6% 96.8% 89.8% 99.3% 97.9%
Other revenue 0.0% 0.0% 1.1% 0.2% 1.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $2,253,692 $2,830,598 $3,410,758 $3,612,133 $4,088,335
Total expenses, % change over prior year 34.4% 25.6% 20.5% 5.9% 13.2%
Personnel 48.1% 47.9% 47.1% 56.4% 54.0%
Professional fees 12.0% 11.7% 14.3% 9.3% 14.0%
Occupancy 6.7% 8.0% 7.6% 7.9% 7.2%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 1.6% 0.3% 19.4% 19.5% 17.7%
All other expenses 31.6% 32.2% 11.6% 7.0% 7.1%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $2,253,692 $2,830,598 $3,410,758 $3,632,167 $4,114,128
One month of savings $187,808 $235,883 $284,230 $301,011 $340,695
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $127,074 $158,634 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $2,441,500 $3,066,481 $3,822,062 $4,091,812 $4,454,823

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 9.2 4.6 4.7 6.0 4.0
Months of cash and investments 11.9 8.9 8.3 9.9 6.6
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 4.1 4.2 4.8 5.8 2.9
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $1,736,601 $1,077,068 $1,336,358 $1,820,186 $1,378,823
Investments $494,537 $1,016,924 $1,029,782 $1,174,053 $871,458
Receivables $1,251,584 $1,052,314 $566,359 $1,568,878 $527,138
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $0 $0 $127,074 $285,717 $309,083
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 7.0% 14.8%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 1.9% 3.0% 3.6% 4.4% 8.3%
Unrestricted net assets $774,708 $997,636 $1,493,891 $2,004,361 $1,263,642
Temporarily restricted net assets $1,655,533 $1,083,738 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $1,000,000 $1,000,000 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $2,655,533 $2,083,738 $1,486,101 $2,649,655 $1,542,780
Total net assets $3,430,241 $3,081,374 $2,979,992 $4,654,016 $2,806,422

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


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

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Chief Executive Officer

Mrs. Lani Santo

Lani has dedicated her career to social justice, human rights, building inclusive and accepting communities, and supporting individuals through transformative experiences within the Jewish community and beyond. Prior to joining Footsteps, she served as a Senior Program Officer at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), where she focused on immersive international service-learning experiences for young adults. Before her work at AJWS, Lani served as an AVODAH Corps Member in Washington, DC, where she was case manager for homeless women. She also served on the AVODAH Board of Directors from 2004-2013. Lani is a graduate of Barnard College and holds a Master's Degree of Public Administration in Public and Nonprofit Management from New York University's Wagner School for Public Service. Lani joined Footsteps in August 2010 with a background in organizational development, fundraising, staff management, program management, and evaluation.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization


Highest paid employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of highest paid employee data for this organization


Board of directors
as of 03/16/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board co-chair

Jamie Hooper

Board co-chair

Ann Kirschner

Shelley Fischel

Mark Goldberg

Ann Kirschner

Shelly Kivell

Phin Reisz

Carrie Shapiro

Lani Santo

Merle Woldenberg Wolff

Jonathan Horowitz

Yoseph Horowitz

Ben Linder

Mark Lipton, Ph.D.

Miriam Moster

Ari Rosenberg

Nitza Rubin

Mindy Yeager

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? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • 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? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/16/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

Transgender Identity

No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data