Second Step, Inc.

aka The Second Step, Inc.   |   Newtonville, MA   |

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Second Step, Inc.

EIN: 22-2868513


The Second Step is a community of survivors, advocates, and volunteers who foster the safety, stability, and well-being of those who have experienced domestic violence. Dedicated to ending the cycle of abuse, we provide comprehensive services, including safety planning, legal advocacy, counseling, peer support, transitional housing, and other essential services to to help survivors remove obstacles to independence, rebuild their lives, and achieve long-term stability. Based in Newton, we serve those living in Greater Boston and the MetroWest area.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Susan Ross Esq.

Main address

PO Box 600213

Newtonville, MA 02460 USA

Show more contact info



Subject area info

Domestic violence

Legal services

Domestic violence shelters

Transitional living

Population served info

Children and youth

Women and girls

Homeless people

Victims of crime and abuse

NTEE code info

Family Violence Shelters and Services (P43)

Family Services (P40)

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Domestic violence survivors face multiple challenges including homelessness, housing instability, financial insecurity, legal issues, physical injury, and emotional trauma. The Second Step works with survivors not only to achieve safety and stability, but to truly heal from trauma, strengthen their internal resources, and rebuild their lives. Domestic Violence is a leading cause of homelessness and housing instability for women and families. Up to 99% of victims experience economic abuse, leading to ruined credit and decreased economic opportunities. Domestic Violence causes physical injury and psychological trauma. Attaining affordable housing, economic independence, and legal protection are the foundation upon which survivors heal and gain stability and well-being.

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?

Transitional Living Program

The Second Step offers two Transitional Living options for survivors of domestic violence. We operate transitional shelter for families leaving emergency, short-term shelter. Families are eligible to remain for up to two years (average stay is 6-9 months) during which they engage in services designed to give them the tools they need to live independently. Families – adults and children alike – have access to comprehensive services such as extensive case management, legal advocacy, personal and professional development, supportive and psycho-educational groups, family nurturing and stabilization services, assistance with the housing search process, and referrals to other agencies, services and systems as appropriate. We also offer a Rapid Rehousing Program where housing advocates help families identify a permanent, affordable housing unit. Survivors receive all the above services and supports, including short term rent subsidies, while in their own units.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
Victims of crime and abuse

Domestic violence survivors have complex legal needs, often with multiple issues stemming from the abuse. Through our Steps to Justice Legal Services Program, we provide free trauma informed legal services for survivors. Our team of staff attorneys provides full representation, limited assistance representation, advice and consultation on matters including abuse prevention orders, family law, immigration and housing. We serve approximately 200 clients through our Steps to Justice program annually.

Population(s) Served
Victims and oppressed people
Women and girls

We provide services to survivors in the community to build skills, develop resilience, heal from trauma, achieve long-term stability, and thrive. Services include safety planning, psycho-emotional education and emotional support; English language skills; mentoring; financial wellness; access to resources such as mental/physical health, benefits, childcare; wellness, stress management, and coping strategies. We integrate outreach, education, and direct service activities within a larger context of violence prevention, including workshops and presentations for the broader community, focusing on topics as healthy/unhealthy relationships, warning signs of abuse, bystander intervention, and how to help peers, friends, and family members who are in violent and abusive relationships.

Population(s) Served
Victims and oppressed people
Children and youth

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Mass Coalition for the Homeless

Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Coalition for the Homeless

Jane Doe, Inc 2023

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of clients assisted with legal needs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Steps to Justice Legal Services Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Legal Services included: Family Law – 127 clients, Abuse Prevention Order – 84 clients, Immigration – 32 clients, Housing – 15 clients. Many clients access more than one legal service.

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.

The Second Step provides comprehensive services for those experiencing domestic violence. Our goal is to ensure survivors of domestic violence have the resources and support they need to escape abuse, remain safe from violence, gain independence, and improve their well-being.

Our programs and services are designed with the 5 domains of well-being in mind: 1) decrease social isolation and exclusion; 2) increase and maintain safety; 3) increase and maintain housing, financial, and emotional stability; 4) increase empowerment and autonomy; 5) connect to meaningful mainstream resources. We partner with survivors to address the trauma of abuse and build brighter futures for themselves and their children.

Last year, we served over 400 adults, helping break the cycle of abuse for over 600 children. While domestic violence impacts all communities, approximately 90% of our clients are women, 72% are considered low income, and 58% are people of color. Several staff and board members are domestic violence survivors, and a wide range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds are represented.

Our wraparound services ensure holistic support so survivors can remove obstacles to independence. All our services are provided for free.

Our wraparound services ensure holistic support so survivors can remove obstacles to independence and improve their well-being. For example, our advocates and lawyers collaborate to support clients in court –attorneys provide zealous representation, while advocates offer emotional support. We provide safety planning to decrease the real threat of increased violence when ending an abusive relationship. We provide transitional living, work on budgeting, fixing credit, housing search, accessing resources and more. On average clients stay in shelter for 8-9 months, then transition to permanent housing, with 100% of clients remaining permanently housed one year later. Community advocates continue providing support through the transition to independence and may work with our staff attorneys for family law, restraining orders, or other legal needs.

Recently, we have had more clients with limited English proficiency which can create a barrier to victims seeking and receiving help. To meet this need, we invested in translation and interpretation services, have increased our multilingual materials, and are adding accessibility software to our website. We offer language proficiency pay to attract and retain bilingual/multilingual staff. When survivors communicate with service providers in their native language, it is easier to express their needs and goals, understand their rights, and access the life-saving options and resources available to them.

The Second Step is committed as an organization to ensuring that services are effective and lead to the outcomes that are most important to our client’s long-term well-being. Through client feedback surveys, service tracking, and measuring key performance indicators, we approach our continued efforts from a perspective of ongoing growth. Our measurement tools allow us to gain a better understanding of several key factors in long-term stability, including increased feelings of safety; increased feelings of empowerment and autonomy; and increased housing, financial, and emotional stability.

The Second Step is powered by a team of highly skilled professionals who imbue challenging work with humanity, kindness, and compassion. At our core, we are people serving people and our people are especially qualified to meet survivors’ unique safety and trauma-related needs. Among our staff are a number of survivors and those who have lived experiences of domestic violence, housing and economic instability, and trauma. We have staff who are immigrants, those for whom English is a second language, and many fluent in a language other than English. Many have advanced degrees in law, social work, criminal justice, psychology, and program development; all staff participate in continuing education and professional development opportunities to remain current on best practices and hone skills.

Our Executive Director has worked in the DV field for 15 years with extensive experience as an attorney providing direct services to clients, and a background in nonprofit administration. The Assistant Executive Director has broad experience working in the field with adult and youth survivors, especially in the housing field. She is also a seasoned contract manager with deep data analytic and program development and assessment skills.

We benefit from and contribute to: Jane Doe Inc., MA Coalition Against Domestic Violence, city and town domestic violence roundtables, the Newton Wellesley Hospital Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault council, the Family Law Domestic Violence Policy Group, that collaborates on issues of policy and best practices in family court. Annually, our attorneys teach classes at local law schools and universities.

We are undergirded by a diversified and robust range of funding sources, including state, federal, and local grants and contracts, as well as a healthy portfolio of corporate and foundation partners. As has been the case from the beginning, some of our biggest supporters are individuals within the community, providing everything from unrestricted funds to countless volunteer hours in support of the families we serve. Approximately 50% of our budget comes from contract funding, while the other 50% comes from private revenue (individuals, corporations and foundations).

Taken as a whole, it is this hardworking and dynamic community that allows us to do what we do.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback

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 1.00 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 8.2 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 16% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Second Step, Inc.

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Second Step, Inc.

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 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

Second Step, Inc.

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of Second Step, 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.

Created in partnership with

Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $153,184 $179,597 $58,898 $436,262 $570,734
As % of expenses 8.7% 9.5% 3.0% 21.7% 25.4%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $85,045 $113,388 -$6,752 $369,949 $500,671
As % of expenses 4.6% 5.8% -0.3% 17.8% 21.6%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $2,121,530 $1,876,219 $1,891,942 $2,291,707 $2,823,358
Total revenue, % change over prior year 26.9% -11.6% 0.8% 21.1% 23.2%
Program services revenue 0.3% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.3% 0.7% 0.5% 0.1% 0.1%
Government grants 40.1% 56.0% 57.6% 55.6% 57.6%
All other grants and contributions 59.3% 43.4% 41.9% 44.2% 42.3%
Other revenue 0.0% -0.2% 0.0% 0.1% 0.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $1,762,092 $1,896,007 $1,980,252 $2,007,960 $2,246,060
Total expenses, % change over prior year 4.7% 7.6% 4.4% 1.4% 11.9%
Personnel 67.1% 62.9% 71.7% 65.6% 65.3%
Professional fees 5.8% 5.5% 4.0% 4.8% 5.0%
Occupancy 12.5% 16.0% 11.4% 12.3% 11.1%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 14.6% 15.7% 12.8% 17.3% 18.7%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $1,830,231 $1,962,216 $2,045,902 $2,074,273 $2,316,123
One month of savings $146,841 $158,001 $165,021 $167,330 $187,172
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $240,900
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $110,615 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $1,977,072 $2,120,217 $2,210,923 $2,352,218 $2,744,195

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 8.4 8.8 10.4 11.5 11.1
Months of cash and investments 8.4 8.8 10.4 11.5 11.1
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets -0.5 0.7 1.1 3.0 5.7
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $1,229,667 $1,386,772 $1,715,574 $1,923,534 $2,075,738
Investments $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $567,896 $443,192 $327,945 $288,669 $446,558
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $3,239,891 $3,223,168 $3,223,168 $3,324,168 $3,319,628
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 51.4% 53.5% 55.6% 55.6% 57.5%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 38.8% 40.6% 48.3% 44.0% 35.0%
Unrestricted net assets $1,498,914 $1,612,302 $1,605,550 $1,975,499 $2,476,170
Temporarily restricted net assets $708,620 $486,735 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $708,620 $486,735 $339,527 $187,012 $193,576
Total net assets $2,207,534 $2,099,037 $1,945,077 $2,162,511 $2,669,746

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

Executive Director

Susan Ross Esq.

With 25 years of experience as a lawyer, counselor, and advocate, Susan Ross, Esq. brings a wealth of leadership experience to our dynamic team. After a clerkship with the US District Court, Sue served in the Middlesex District Attorney’s domestic violence unit, seeing first-hand the limits of the legal system alone to solve the complex problems interfering with victims’ long-term safety and stability. As a staff attorney and Director of Steps to Justice, Sue developed a legal services program integrated with wrap-around supportive services to improve outcomes. In 2021 Sue was appointed Interim Executive Director and then ED in 2022.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

Second Step, Inc.

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

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.

Second Step, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 09/20/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Joe Ristuccia

Lesley University

Term: 2014 - 2023

Joel Ristuccia

Lesley University

Krista McCabe Cruz

Massachusetts General Hospital

Glenn Rosen

Boomhower Software

Katia Canenguez

Mass General Hospital / Harvard Medical School

Lesley Colognesi

Beaver Country Day School

Jennifer Gandel

Heather Mack

April Stein

Susan McMurry

Wellington Management

Kimberly Tosi

Gather Home, Interior Design

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
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • 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 10/28/2022

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 (cisgender)

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/20/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.