Phoenix organization helps children and parents with education

A Stepping Stone Foundation works with underserved families and children by simultaneously providing early childhood education and parenting education. Their mission is to provide a solid family foundation for future learning.

Through the group’s LEAF program, Literacy Elevates Arizona Families, it is a one-stop-shop for families in need of literacy support.

These young children may be at a higher risk of school failure, and early education can be crucial for their success.

LEAF offers preschool and parenting education programs throughout the year in conjunction with public schools. Parents attend general adult education classes in conjunction with parenting classes to learn how to support their children. Parents are offered lessons in English if it is not their primary language.

Families participating in the program receive monthly home visits from staff for ongoing support. Day care is also provided for other siblings while parents attend classes.

The group offers scholarships and internships to parents. Former preschoolers in the program may also receive college scholarships.

Adult education classes as well as early education are provided by the group.

Stepping Stone received $ 15,000 from Season for Sharing last year. It was one of 176 Arizona nonprofits that shared $ 2.1 million in donations from The Republic readers and others who supported the Arizona Republic-sponsored annual campaign.

“Season for Sharing means that disadvantaged children in the region can enter kindergarten with the same skills as their affluent peers. This means that children have a better chance of reading in school as early as grade three and graduating from high school on time and continuing on to post-secondary education, ”said Principal Cynthia Gattorna.

HOW TO MAKE A DONATION : Click here to donate to Season for Sharing online.

What basic needs and / or services does your organization provide? We provide pre-school education, adult education, parenting classes, home visits and family learning activities for parents. We also offer scholarships and internships. Quarterly forums are organized for like-minded practitioners, policy makers, funders and elected officials.

What populations do you serve and how many people are you helping? We serve families with young children at risk of school failure due to low literacy levels at home for a full school year. Our capacity before the pandemic was helping 40 families a year. We are at half capacity to allow physical distancing in our in-person preschool rooms.

How did the Season of Sharing grant go? Twenty children entered kindergarten ready to learn with 20 parents ready to accompany their children throughout their school career. Each child received around 500 hours of high-quality preschool education and at least one of their parents participated in around 240 hours of adult education, such as English or GED preparation classes, classes on parent education, home visits and intergenerational learning activities.

How do you rate your success? Three criteria guide us:

  • Children are ready to enter Kindergarten, as evidenced by passing all of the major criteria of the Gold Assessment System of Instructional Strategies by the time they leave our program.
  • Parents are able to communicate with their child’s teacher in English on basic concepts such as attendance and academic progress as measured by classroom English tests and teacher observation.
  • Parents understand their child’s developmental stages and can change behavior accordingly – parents are their child’s first best teacher, as senior preschool teachers observe.

What are the greatest needs of your organization? Funding. It is essential that our parents recognize the importance of getting the vaccine so that they can return in person to our local campuses. We need the whole community to understand the importance that quality early learning programs can have on the life trajectory of a disadvantaged child. It costs the A Stepping Stone Foundation approximately $ 150,000 to serve 20 families in partnership with a school district for one year.

Can you share a personal story that represents and matches your organization’s mission?? A stay-at-home mom decided to join the program because she was concerned about her daughter’s lack of social interaction with the other children. She had graduated from high school in 1997, but had never attended university. She decided to attend GED classes to hone her learning skills. With the support of teachers and staff, she overcame her fears and decided to pursue a college education. Her career choice: early childhood education.

5 Ways to Give to Season for Sharing

  • Complete the secure online form at
  • Text “SHARE” to 91-999 and click on the link in the text message.
  • Go online to and search for the “DONATE HERE” post.
  • Cut out coupon on page 4A of The Arizona Republic, complete and mail to PO Box 29250, Phoenix AZ 85038-9250.

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Virginia S. Braud