Steps to Success (STS), originally created in 1991 as the Brookline School-Community Partnership, is a comprehensive educational achievement program that provides academic support and enrichment and year-round youth development activities for students of low income. Working with young people in Grades 4 through college, STS seeks to create educational equity and to help end generational poverty. Prior to Steps to Success, only 30-50% of students living in public housing matriculated to college. Now, with eight cohorts of STS high school graduates, over 90% of these students are accepted to institutions of higher education. Though nationally only 6-8% of the lowest income quartile of students graduate with their college degrees in six years (by age 24), 70-75% of STS college students are on track to graduate in that timeframe.
Academic Enrichment & Mentoring
Steps to Success engages students in out-of-school time programs that include high quality/high interest after-school academic support and enrichment activities; homework/study skills coaching; and mentoring to expose low-income students to higher education options, as well as cultural and educational activities and experiences designed to expand their horizons. Fundamental to this comprehensive initiative is a series of "stepped" enrichment activities at each grade level, designed to build skills and encourage sound relationships with advisors and other important adults in their lives. Each student has a STS advisor. At the elementary/middle school level, advisors design an individual "Student Success Plan" and, along with each student, track his/her progress, while offering academic support, a mentoring relationship,and a link between school and the student's family. At the high school level, all STS students have a STS seminar built into their schedule. This 4 year curriculum combines activities to help students build skills to succeed in high school and prepare for college or other post-secondary education.
College Awareness & Readiness
Steps to Success' overarching goal is to prepare participating students for post-secondary education. Many STS students come from families none of whose members have gone to college...and few of whom can imagine managing the cost of higher education. The STS College Partners Program, initially creates a "you are going to college" culture and, then, progressively conditions students and their families to embrace preparation for higher education. Students regularly visit and engage in activities at college campuses, beginning in 5th grade. STS parents/guardians attend a series of workshops in students' 10th grade year focused on demystifying the college application process and understanding the financial aid resources available. High School STS advisors take both students and parents through the entire college application process through 12th grade.
Work Connections for Youth
Steps to Success recognizes the linkage of school success, college attendance and a sustaining, satisfying career - and delivers a consistent message to our young participants about this connection. We encourage students to think about their future options through Work Connections for Youth, a summer internship program for 8th-12th grade participants. Providing stipends for approximately 100 paid positions, these internships offer increasing levels of responsibility and ensure year-round learning through afternoon classes in academic skills, career awareness, and college prep. Work Connections for Youth fosters the development of strong work habits; pride in performance; and job readiness.
The parents and guardians involved in STS want their children to work hard, progress in school and prepare for college, yet are often at a loss as to what they can do to ensure their children's successful path. STS offers a number of supporting services to overcome barriers and help parents take a more active role in their children's educational development - including: *ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes; *Resource and referral counseling for people, ages 18 years and over,seeking to renew their educational or employment goals; *Family Learning Centers, in collaboration with the Brookline Housing Authority. These computer centers offer training to help bridge the "digital divide" (and are used by STS parents, students and other adult housing residents alike); and *Home visits by STS program advisors to build trusting relationships with parents and guardians, introducing them to those who teach, counsel and support their children.
For more news and information on the Steps to Success program, please visit their website.