STAIR of Birmingham

Read Better. Dream Bigger.

aka STAIR   |   Birmingham, AL   |
GuideStar Charity Check

STAIR of Birmingham

EIN: 20-3541638


At STAIR we know that students in our community are struggling with literacy. Through one-on-one afterschool tutoring, we empower students with the tools to read better and dream bigger, because every child deserves to be reading on grade level.

Ruling year info


Chief Executive Officer

Karen Griner

Main address

3703 5th Avenue South, Suite 400

Birmingham, AL 35222 USA

Show more contact info



Subject area info

Elementary education

Child educational development

Out-of-school learning

Reading promotion


Population served info

Children and youth


Low-income people


NTEE code info

Remedial Reading, Reading Encouragement (B92)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

STAIR works with students during the most critical time of their education. Prior to third grade, most children are learning to read - gaining the basic skills that they need to be academically successful. As they move into third grade, they are reading to learn - using their skills to gain knowledge in math, history, language and science, and developing a love of learning that will help transform their futures. According to The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, "Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success", yet only 24% of Birmingham City students reached this benchmark during the 2018-19 school year. This means that more than 3 out of 4 Birmingham students need literacy support outside of the classroom. Without one-on-one intervention like STAIR, a student's reading gap becomes larger and larger as they move along the education pipeline.

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?

After School Tutoring

While Birmingham has seen improvement in student achievement, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Three out of 4 Birmingham students are currently unable to reach reading benchmarks. The single greatest predictor of high school graduation and career success is third grade reading proficiency. Children who can’t read are unlikely to graduate from high school, find their life’s work, or read their child’s favorite bedtime story.

Students come to STAIR two afternoons a week and build relationships with the same two tutors who are focused on their individual literacy needs, empowering them to start their adventure in reading.

After completing the program, STAIR students are excited to pick up a book and read independently, putting them on the path to proudly walk across their graduation stage, apply for their dream job, and teach their own kids to read.

STAIR currently serves 11 Birmingham City Schools as well as Restoration Academy and I3 Academy, which are privately funded.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Alabama Association of Nonprofits 2021

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 students enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

After School Tutoring

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

COVID has caused enrollment to drop the past two years due to challenges with recruiting volunteers and virtual tutoring.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

After School Tutoring

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

From students to retired doctors and everyone in between, STAIR tutors invest in second grade students who not only need help in bringing up their reading scores, but also need a friend and a mentor.

Number of books distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Because students didn't have access to the STAIR library during COVID/virtual tutoring, STAIR provided 20 books to each child. STAIR continues to provide 10 books per student post COVID.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

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.

(1) Increase the reading level of children identified as having deficiencies in this subject area.
(2) Increase the confidence and self-esteem of participating first and second graders.
(3) Provide a caring and supportive environment that will help students overcome their literacy challenges.

STAIR trains volunteer tutors on how to utilize our step-by-step professionally detailed and copyrighted curriculum and staff provides on site support as well as continuing training for volunteers throughout the program year.

Additionally, due to our one-on-one tutoring model, students are able to work at their own pace with the same two tutors throughout the course of the year. This not only provides consistency and familiarity with the students' needs, it also creates a safe environment that allows them to flourish.

STAIR works with principals, teachers and reading coaches to identify students who are reading below grade level and are struggling with basic literacy skill development. Once identified, teachers then contact parents and caregivers to register students and to provide an overview of the program. After all participants have been identified and registered, STAIR pairs students with two volunteer tutors who work with the student weekly to provide over 50 hours of one-on-one tutoring. The program begins early in September and goes through the end of April each school-year.

STAIR provides the following services at no charge to the families of the participants or the schools:

Tutors: Each second grader will be assigned two, trained volunteer tutors that provide one-on-one support and remain with the student throughout the year.

Tutoring Sessions: Each second grader will receive tutoring twice per week—one hour per session.

Curriculum-Based Support: STAIR uses a step-by-step professionally detailed and copyrighted program that enhances the standards-based curriculum utilized within the public school system. Each volunteer tutor is trained to successfully use this program.

Educational Materials and Supplies: Participating students will receive workbooks/worksheets, alphabet cards and basic supplies--glue sticks, scissors, crayons, pencils, notebooks, and stickers—to ensure that they have the tools to be successful. Students will also have access to site-based lending libraries and free books for their home libraries.

Other Support: In addition to the above, STAIR provides healthy snacks, individual and family resource referrals as needed (like summer learning opportunities), and family engagement programs meant to recognize student achievement and involve the entire family in present and future success.

STAIR uses summative assessments to measure each student's gains in oral reading fluency (ORF) on a regular basis from the beginning of the program to the end. Formative assessments are built into the curriculum in the form of pre- and post-assessments for each unit completed. Those pre- and post-assessments measure gains in foundational knowledge, decoding, and problem-solving strategies applied while reading.

On average, reading fluency doubled across all STAIR sites during the 2021-2022 program year, increasing from a reading fluency of 20.2 words per minute to 41.8 words per minute by year end. When analyzing the data between the two grades, first graders actually tripled their reading fluency scores, jumping from an average of 8.5 words per minute to 25 words per minute. Looking at individual student data, we observed more second grade students scoring over 100 words per minute in reading fluency than in years past.

By year end, 21% of second graders and 19% of first graders had a reading fluency score above the national average. We are very pleased with these results, considering the fact that many first graders came to us not reading at all and, through their involvement in the STAIR program, they made their first steps into reading. One first grader named Ayden was reading at the end-of-second-grade level by the end of the program year.
When analyzing STAIR’s internal assessment results, students improved their Alphabetic and Letter Sound Knowledge by 48%, and their reading comprehension and ability to retell a story improved by 41%.

Students gained an average of three independent reading strategies per unit of STAIR curriculum. So for those who finished two units, most learned six new strategies, and for those who finished close to three units, they averaged a gain of nine new strategies. Reading strategies are techniques students can use to decipher the meaning of complex text as well as learn to read new and unknown words. Examples of reading strategies include: Looking at pictures to help figure out what is happening in a story; applying one’s own experiences to what the story is about; looking for familiar letters and words; asking questions; retelling the story; thinking about what would make sense; sounding out words in smaller chunks; looking for smaller words within big words; and asking yourself the question, “Did that sound right?”.

For the 2022-2023 school year, STAIR has shifted its progress assessments from reading fluency to more foundational skills and strategies, which will give us a more in-depth analysis as to why our students may be struggling with reading, with which skills and what aspects of the curriculum best helped them improve those skills. Our revised reading interview will paint a very clear picture of how much improvement we are helping students make in their foundational skills.

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 demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Birmingham 1st and 2nd grade students from 12 schools.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls,

  • 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 make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We are in the second year of using a new curriculum created by STAIR staff. We are currently revising the curriculum based on feedback and real-life experiences of our tutors.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

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

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting 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 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 0.27 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 8.3 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 12% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

Source: IRS Form 990 info

STAIR of Birmingham

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

STAIR of Birmingham

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

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

STAIR of Birmingham

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

This snapshot of STAIR of Birmingham’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 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $6,136 -$55,390 -$15,686 $32,423 $162,560
As % of expenses 1.6% -11.2% -3.2% 5.9% 26.7%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $6,136 -$55,390 -$15,686 $32,423 $162,560
As % of expenses 1.6% -11.2% -3.2% 5.9% 26.7%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $392,236 $437,432 $479,167 $579,631 $770,727
Total revenue, % change over prior year 2.4% 11.5% 9.5% 21.0% 33.0%
Program services revenue 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Other revenue 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $383,593 $492,813 $494,844 $547,200 $608,159
Total expenses, % change over prior year 12.1% 28.5% 0.4% 10.6% 11.1%
Personnel 70.4% 66.9% 71.7% 71.1% 68.3%
Professional fees 13.3% 10.9% 8.8% 4.9% 1.9%
Occupancy 0.0% 3.6% 5.7% 5.0% 4.6%
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 16.3% 18.6% 13.8% 19.0% 25.3%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Total expenses (after depreciation) $383,593 $492,813 $494,844 $547,200 $608,159
One month of savings $31,966 $41,068 $41,237 $45,600 $50,680
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $76,420
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $415,559 $533,881 $536,081 $592,800 $735,259

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Months of cash 5.2 2.7 2.3 4.4 5.7
Months of cash and investments 5.2 2.7 2.3 4.4 5.7
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 4.6 2.2 1.8 2.4 5.4
Balance sheet composition info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Cash $164,892 $109,511 $93,834 $202,685 $288,833
Investments $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 37.7% 0.0%
Unrestricted net assets $147,318 $91,928 $76,242 $108,665 $271,225
Temporarily restricted net assets $17,574 $17,583 $17,592 N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 $0 N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $17,574 $17,583 $17,592 $17,600 $17,608
Total net assets $164,892 $109,511 $93,834 $126,265 $288,833

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
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

Karen Griner

Karen Griner, Chief Executive Officer, is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) with a journalism degree from the University of Illinois and has over 15 years of experience in nonprofit fund development, strategic planning, and volunteer management. She is a member of the Junior League of Birmingham and the Alabama Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP Alabama), for which she is a past president. In 2018 she received AFP Alabama’s William S. Roth Outstanding Fundraising Executive Award. Karen’s roles include overseeing fundraising operations for the organization, strategic planning, building relationships with community partners, and direct oversight to STAIR’s Directors of Development, School Partnerships, Volunteer Engagement, and Community Engagement.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

STAIR of Birmingham

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.

STAIR of Birmingham

Board of directors
as of 01/19/2023
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

Margaret Sullivan

Board co-chair

LeDon Jones

SouthState Bank

Term: 2022 - 2023

Amy McCain

Bruno Capital Management

Brad Baker

Morgan Stanley

William Dow

Warren Averett

John Dulin, Jr.

Maynard Cooper

Tiffany Osborne

UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research

Carla Roberson

Alabama Power

Margaret Sullivan

Community Volunteer

Beth Wilder

Former Executive Director of The Literacy Council

Kennon Walthall

Avenu Insights

LeDon Jones

South State Bank

Beth Pitman

Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis

Sarah Wheeler

Community Volunteer

Scott Davis


Christin French

French & Ford

Todd Hamilton

Smith, Spires, Peddy, Hamilton & Coleman P.C.

Vanessa Pettway

Eisai US

Cora Underwood

Retired, AT&T

Ashley Samuels

ED Birmingham

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? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 6/21/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

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

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/01/2021

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 analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • 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 seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • 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.