The Steppingstone Foundation

year 2, week 4: this week i'm gonna... prepare students for college

Trent Jones

Trent Jones

Lynette Jones has always been committed to her son Trent’s education. “As much as I would have loved for Trent to go to college, I wouldn’t have been able to help him get there on my own,” Lynette says. In Trent's home of Boston, fewer than 20% of district high-school graduates complete a four-year college degree.

When Trent was in 5th grade, Lynette learned about the Steppingstone Academy and their free college-access programs. She knew she had to seize the opportunity to give her son a better future and applied immediately.

When Trent was accepted to Steppingstone, he joined what Lynette calls a “community of learners,” and his grades and confidence soared. After 14 months of hard work, Trent enrolled at prestigious Belmont Hill School with a full scholarship. He soon realized that even with the rigorous preparation he received from Steppingstone, the transition to an independent school was difficult.

Lynette and Trent

Lynette and Trent

“When Trent first went to Belmont Hill he had this heavy backpack and was walking around a big campus he wasn’t used to -- he was feeling lost,” remembers Lynette. “But Steppingstone was there for him; his adviser would come and eat lunch with him and cheer him on at sporting events.”

“Belmont Hill was the challenge of a lifetime,” says Trent, “but I never hesitated to turn to my Steppingstone network when I had a question or challenge to overcome.”

Now a sophomore at The George Washington University, Trent is well on his way to earning his college degree and beginning a successful marketing career. Both Trent and Lynette credit Steppingstone with helping him achieve such success.

“It’s hard to imagine my life now without Steppingstone," says Trent. "There are few organizations that have such a direct impact on their community.” 

Trent with his classmates

Trent with his classmates

Founded in 1990, The Steppingstone Foundation develops and implements programs that prepare underserved students for educational opportunities that lead to college success. Steppingstone believes that regardless of circumstance, children can achieve at high levels with effective preparation and support. Their programs emphasize rigorous standards to achieve meaningful results.

The Steppingstone model offers students key ingredients for success. Scholars receive ongoing academic support, structured learning time during the summer and after school, admission to schools where the vast majority of students go on to attend four-year colleges, and continuous college preparation from admission through middle and high school.

The results speak for themselves.  Of the Scholars who have completed The Steppingstone Academy’s academic preparation component:

  • 90% have been admitted to a competitive middle or high school.
  • 99% have graduated from high school.
  • 93% have enrolled in a four-year college.
  • 80% have earned their college degree within six years.

Please watch the video below to learn more about the Steppingstone Scholar experience.

Vicky Arroyo

Vicky Arroyo

As first-generation Americans, Vicky Arroyo and her brothers wanted to go to college, but weren’t sure how to get there. “We knew there were opportunities in Boston,” she remembers. We could see the college students in their sweatshirts on the T, yet earning a degree felt far out of reach.”

That changed and college success became a reality for Vicky when she was in 5th grade and applied to The Steppingstone Academy. Over 14 months, Vicky attended Steppingstone classes twice a week during the school year and for six weeks over the summer. With support from her adviser, Vicky then enrolled at Beaver Country Day School, where she excelled for the next six years.

“Steppingstone was a turning point in our lives,” Vicky says. “The program gave my family this huge gift by opening up opportunities we didn’t think we could access.”

All of Vicky’s hard work paid off when she was offered admission to 10 of the 14 colleges she applied to in her senior year. “Things clicked for me when the acceptance letters started coming in,” she remembers. “It was such an advantage to have gone to Beaver, and that wouldn’t have been possible without the preparation and support I received from Steppingstone.” Like all Scholars, Vicky had access to college tours, discounted SAT classes, financial aid guidance, tutoring, and one-on-one advising.

Vicky teaching Steppingstone Scholars

Vicky teaching Steppingstone Scholars

Today, Vicky is dedicated to making a difference in her community. After graduating from Syracuse University, she is now teaching 1st grade at the George F. Kelly School in Chelsea, MA, and comes back to help educate younger Steppingstone Scholars during the summer. 

“My brothers and I were able to earn degrees, build successful careers, and make our parents proud,” she says. “I want to do everything I can to pay that gift forward.”

Notes for this week:

  • January is National Mentoring Month!
  • Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor two Scholars' transportation to and from the six week summer program.
  • For more information regarding The Steppingstone Foundation, please check out their website.

this week i'm gonna donate to The Steppingstone Foundation.

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