A Stepping Stone Foundation

Transforming lives through Two-Generation Education

Phoenix, AZ   |  www.asteppingstone.org

Mission

We transform lives through quality two-generation education for families of limited opportunities. Our hallmark program, which provides tuition free, high quality, comprehensive family literacy is called LEAF (Literacy Elevates Arizona Families). LEAF ensures the success of the parents with their children by providing free: daily preschool, adult education, parenting classes, home visits, child care and enrichment for the younger siblings of the preschoolers. The Billie Gannaway Memorial Scholarship is a post secondary scholarship program for former preschoolers. It includes a Stepping Into College event for juniors and seniors in high school & award ceremony in the spring. We also direct an internship program & Two-Gen-Ed Affinity Group for community practitioners & policy makers.

Ruling year info

1990

Executive Director

Mrs. Cynthia Burget Gattorna MA

Main address

PO Box 87149

Phoenix, AZ 85080-7149 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

I Have a Dream Foundation

EIN

74-2567068

NTEE code info

Family Services (P40)

Kindergarten, Nursery Schools, Preschool, Early Admissions (B21)

Scholarships, Student Financial Aid, Awards (B82)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

In Arizona, half of our young children are not enrolled in preschool. We know from many studies that children from low-literacy households would benefit greatly from quality early education like the two-generation-education programs A Stepping Stone Foundation (ASSF) created. According to the Director of the AZ Head Start Alliance, Head Start only serves about 30% of eligible families with preschool. The gap between the need and actual programs is persistent and long-lived. In 1989, ASSF formed to help fill this gap in Arizona's local communities. We became a champion for preschool with robust parental support. We recognize not just the need for quality early education for children whose parents never completed high school or are learning English, but the need to support the parents of those children with their own continuing education, English Language Learning and child development information. As the years have gone by, we added additional education opportunities.

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?

LEAF: Literacy Elevates Arizona Families

40 preschoolers (ages 3 or 4 as of August 31st) are enrolled at public school sites in Phoenix, Arizona. They are enrolled based on low family literacy indicators as shown by questionnaire and face-to-face interviews. At least one parent signs a contract agreeing to: attend parenting classes for a minimum of 6 hours a month, attend ESL or GED classes a minimum of 16 hours a month, open their home to one-hour home visits from the teachers once a month, and spend at least 4 hours a month in the classroom with their child engaged in developmentally appropriate literacy activities. Other opportunities for intergenerational activities include field trips, pot lucks and park or field days. The program lasts one entire public school year. Families are encouraged to participate additional years if there are younger siblings.
Parents attend a Wednesday orientation the first day of school to reinforce their contracted obligations and to orient them about how best to work with their child during their classroom time with their child. Three days a month involve parenting topics such as assertive discipline, developmentally appropriate activities for the child and family to do at home, etc. ESL and GED classes start the second week of school.
Children attend class from 8:00 am until noon Monday through Thursday and are served hot breakfast and hot lunch on these days courtesy of the school district. They acquire pre-literacy skills through hands-on language-based activities in a rich, developmentally appropriate learning environment. The teacher’s lesson plans are child-centered, based on recent research in learning theory and are grounded in the Arizona State Standards for preschool. Friday is specifically reserved for the teachers to do home visits, where the parent is given tools and instruction on how to be their child's first best teacher.
At the end of the year there is a parent event where families and community celebrate children and parent progress. End of the year evaluations include questionnaires and academic testing.

Population(s) Served
Families
Economically disadvantaged people

Former A Stepping Stone Foundation LEAF preschoolers who attended one of our programs 6 or more months are eligible for post-secondary scholarships for tuition, books and supplies.
A part of this scholarship program includes a fall event where juniors and seniors in high school attend Stepping Into College with their parents to learn about our scholarship, other scholarship opportunities, how to fill out FAFSA, and tips on how to fill out college applications and have a successful freshman year. There is a spring ceremony for scholarship winners where they and their families are invited free of charge to a light dinner and scholarship presentation ceremony.
Follow-up statistics about college graduation rates and employment rates are gathered by volunteers.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
At-risk youth

A Stepping Stone Foundation's Christmas Angel program takes place each year from October to December 31st. Each family enrolled by October 1st of any given year is invited to fill out a card indicating their children's clothing needs and toy desires. These cards are then dispersed in the local community for fulfillment. Donors are asked to keep each child's items to a purchase limit of $50 each. Each child and sibling in our program 12-years-old and younger receives a minimum of one book, one article of clothing and one toy. These items are given anonymously to theparents so the parents can decide how to use the gifts. For instance, a parent may put them under a Christmas tree, or present the gifts to the children from themselves  to use the items as part of the general household if Christmas is not celebrated in that family. This program is run by volunteers. The budget reflects the in-kind item donations and when practical, grocery gift cards that are included to ease holiday meal shopping.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Families

Where we work

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 showing improvement in test scores

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

People of Latin American descent, Children

Related Program

LEAF: Literacy Elevates Arizona Families

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

The number of children are those who were in the program six months or more. Beginning in 2017, we use the Teaching Strategies Gold online assessment for early childhood benchmarks.

Number of students at or above a 90% attendance rate

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

Ethnic and racial groups, Children

Related Program

LEAF: Literacy Elevates Arizona Families

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Preschoolers enrolled in LEAF preschool's daily attendance over six months or more in the preschool portion of the program.

Number of students enrolled

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

Children

Related Program

LEAF: Literacy Elevates Arizona Families

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

How many students participated in the preschool portion of the LEAF program six months or more.

Number of students who exhibit kindergarten readiness

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

Children

Related Program

LEAF: Literacy Elevates Arizona Families

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Related to Teaching Strategies Gold benchmarks, this metric includes teacher judgement and other anecdotal evidence (portfolios, parent input and observation in the home during home visits).

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.

We seek to transform lives through quality two-generation education programs. Specifically; 1) prepare young children for success in school, 2) promote adult literacy and English language mastery 3) provide parents the support they need to fully understand and promote the developmental growth of their children. These three broad goals each have strands relating to academic progress, social interaction, understanding and practicing a variety of school-related routines and norms.

Our main program, LEAF (Literacy Elevates Arizona Families), is designed to have a long and potent influence on the families who enroll. Each family is expected to remain and participate fully in all aspects of the program throughout at least one public school year. The end goal with this robust experience is to change behaviors for a life-time.

Further, since we have been delivering this program for three decades, we have also developed a college scholarship program. It enables us to promise parents when their preschooler graduates high school, there will be college scholarship money waiting for them. It further emphasizes to the family, and is a concrete reminder for us to acknowledge, that support over time is needed to truly change the trajectory of inter-generational illiteracy-driven poverty.

1. Create, fund and facilitate an early childhood program (preschool) that is fully integrated with parent involvement and parent education. This program is situated in local communities with the collaboration of public school districts who provide the site free of charge. Children attend daily preschool (M-Th) of high quality taught by certified ECE lead teachers and experienced assistant teachers. Curriculum and professional development is intentional and integrated with the local school district. These preschool children will then attend their neighborhood school in kindergarten, usually on the same site as their preschool experience.

2. Create, fund and facilitate many-faceted parental supports. Parents of the enrolled preschoolers will take part in adult education (GED/HSE prep classes), English Classes, parenting classes, inter-generational learning experiences (from game day in the park to make-it and take-it reading workshops), home visiting (at least 7 home visits each year) and preschool classroom volunteering. These obligations are required and if the family falls below an 80% attendance rate, the family is put on probation to work through any barriers to full participation. To that end, there is free childcare onsite for younger siblings. If after working through the formal probation period, the family is still below 80% attendance, they are asked to leave the program. While families leaving is a rare occurrence, if such an event comes to pass, we do our best to place the family in another program such as Head Start.

3. Because so many of our enrolled families are recent immigrants, English language acquisition is a main strategy in the preschool and adult education portions of the program mentioned in 1 and 2 above. Preschool children's home language is honored and if possible used, but an intentional push toward English language mastery is ongoing for both the child and the parent. By the end of the program, we want the child to be speaking enough English to enter kindergarten ready to learn on a par with native English speakers and parents to be able to communicate with their child's teachers. To that end, the preschool curriculum and ESL classes for parents are very important components of the over-all program.

4. Consistent and targeted evaluation is an important strategy to us for continuous improvement. At the end of each year, in addition to academic and standardized testing and benchmarks, parents fill out two surveys which help us see how they rate our programs, what improvements they suggest and what they found most valuable.

5. Keep in contact with our families after they leave our program. This strategy has a two-fold purpose. A) We want to know how they are doing on a long-term basis. For example, what is the child's third-grade reading score? B) We have a post-secondary scholarship waiting for them when they graduate high school. All students who attended a LEAF program six months or more are eligible.

A Stepping Stone Foundation created LEAF in the fall of 1990 which was loosely based on both Head Start and Even Start and then added and adjusted components. LEAF was adjusted for local community and family needs--the core of which largely remains intact to this day. The intellectual capacity to continue this work not only is written for others to follow but held in the many years of experience our staff and program director.

For the past three years, we have had two LEAF teaching sites with a capacity for a total of 40 families (about 100 individuals). We awarded 37 college scholarships to former preschoolers who have graduated high school during last year and maintain a fund at the Arizona Community Foundation which is used for that sole purpose.

It costs A Stepping Stone Foundation about $150,000/year to put one complete LEAF program site (one preschool classroom with all the parent and English language and home visiting components) into place in collaboration with a public school district. Over the years, through grants, individual donations and other traditional fundraising activities such as our annual gala, Serenata, A Stepping Stone Foundation raises its funds each year--and has done so for the past three decades.

Recognizing the importance of sustainability, ASSF has the goal of maintaining a twelve-month reserve to weather the ups and downs of charitable and institutional giving. A Finance and Budget Committee meets at least annually to examine investment strategies, gift acceptance policy and supports the Donors Bill of Rights. As of January 1, 2021, ASSF had a 12 month operating reserve set aside.

A donor database is cultivated and meticulously maintained as well as past grant proposals and school district contacts to be prepared for potential growth in our programmatic reach.

The board re-wrote its bylaws in 2018 and we now have best practices in place for a strong board moving forward which includes descriptions of board duties, term limits for members and officers as well as a well-defined relationship between the board and Executive Director.

General Observations:
A Stepping Stone Foundation (ASSF) finished well in the black for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Average donation amounts were up slightly. The ASSF board has recruited new board members and made internal capacity and fundraising a priority.

LEAF:
In the school year 2019-2020, there were two LEAF sites, which had a total of 44 families enrolled in the program. Of those families, 37 were in the program longer than six months. 151 unique individuals were served from August 1, 2019-May 31, 2020. This includes the preschoolers, at least one parent, younger siblings and in some cases older siblings and grandparents. End of the year parents surveys indicated a high degree of satisfaction and that they would highly recommend this program to other families. From one parent (translated from Spanish), "It was the best experience regarding education, friendship and volunteering of my life. I found the answers to my questions about the education and development of my children." Parents also reported a high confidence that their children were ready for kindergarten.

Of all LEAF children at both the Westwood-Alhambra and Bret Tarver Isaac Preschool sites met their Teaching Strategies Gold benchmarks indicating they are ready for kindergarten! Over-all parent attendance at adult education, parenting classes, home visits and classroom volunteering averaged 92%.

Regarding adult English Language Learning:
ESL I: 14% moved up 1 level
ESL II – 100% moved up 1 level
ESL III – 1 student – stayed at this level
ESL IV – 40% moved up 2 levels
ESL V – 100% moved up a level

Family Field Trips and number of participants – includes extended family members
Tolmochoff Farms – Westwood 40, Isaac 44
Phoenix Children’s Museum – Westwood 80, Isaac 37
Flutter Festival @ Desert Botanical Gardens – Westwood 80, Isaac 48
Phoenix Zoo – Westwood 80, Isaac 81
Fire station – Isaac 20
Puppet Theater – Westwood 20, Isaac 18
County Fair – Isaac 51, Westwood 60

BGMS College Scholarships (includes Ivey Stepping Higher Awards)
31 Awards (31 unique former preschoolers awarded college scholarships)
Total Award Amount $22,000.00

Finally:
For the 6th year, two former preschoolers interned in the Stepping Stone Foundation office.
For the 3rd year, A Stepping Stone Foundation convened a quarterly Two-Generation-Education Affinity Group dedicated to networking and furthering community and political awareness of the need to such programs to help the community. Attendees include practioners, policy makers, funders and elected officials.

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?

    Families who have young children and a low level of literacy in the home. Currently we serve primarily immigrant families in zip codes 85015, 85017 and 85009; about 80% speak Spanish as their first language.

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

    Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes,

  • 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, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    As COVID19 infection rate dropped in the Phoenix area, we surveyed parents by telephone asking how they felt about returning to the classroom with appropriate safety precautions. Due to the different responses per site, one LEAF site went back in person on March 22 and the other site will remain in session using Distance Learning adaptations until the public school year ends in May.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

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

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    It gives often disenfranchised families a voice in their day-to-day educational experience. It makes our program more responsive to the family's needs.

  • 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 get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, 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 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,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

A Stepping Stone Foundation
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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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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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A Stepping Stone Foundation

Board of directors
as of 3/30/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. Gabriel Escontrías, Jr.

University of Arizona Cancer Center

Term: 2018 - 2020

Judy Brengi

Brengi and Gordon, PC Certified Public Accountants

Matthew Marquez

Working Families Party

Melissa Ogea

Axway

Gabriel Escontrias

American Psychiatric Association

Sue Yale

Berkshire-Hathaway Home Services/Advantage Realty

Lenay Dunn

WestEd

Joseph Segal

First Warning

Melissa Lempke

Expect More Arizona

Jerome Williams

Aerotek

Tomas Martinez

APS: Arizona Public Service Company

Patricia Davis

MUFG Union Bank

Laida Restrepo

ASU

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? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • 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? No
  • 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 03/29/2021

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

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data