Twenty-five years ago, Michael Danziger and John Simon imagined a brighter future for students in Boston.
“We recognized that if we could extend the opportunities we had to a group of motivated children, their lives would fundamentally change for the better,” says Simon. Confident that all students could achieve at high levels in a demanding, caring, and results-oriented environment, Danziger and Simon launched The Steppingstone Scholars Program in 1990.
“It was a really exciting time. There was a ton of learning going on, and things were different every single day,” says Danziger. “I was learning as much as I was teaching,” remembers Simon. “But persistence, desire, and patience on the part of the Scholars pulled us through the start of what has become an amazing program.”
“Steppingstone helped me access an education I might not have been able to otherwise. That opportunity not only changed my life for the better, it also changed my family’s and my children’s lives.” – Tegan Leonard ’91
Since the pilot class of Scholars and their families took a chance on Steppingstone, the organization has grown exponentially. Steppingstone now serves 1,600 Boston students who attend independent, public exam, and public schools. Affiliate programs in Philadelphia and Hartford serve hundreds of students each year, and the National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA) supports 300 college access organizations, schools, and universities that collectively serve more than 200,000 underrepresented students across the country.
“I never dreamed that we would be working with public exam schools, that we would start NPEA, that we would branch out and run the College Success Academy, but all of these programs have the same message and are driven by the same values.”
– Michael Danziger
As Steppingstone’s reach has grown, the services provided to Scholars and their families have both deepened and improved. In nearly 23 years of working with Steppingstone, President Kelly Glew has helped shape this progress and is now the driving force behind Steppingstone’s continued innovation and excellence. “We want Scholars to succeed academically and personally,” says Glew, “so we now provide Scholars with a holistic array of social/emotional and support services to help them succeed throughout high school, college, and in their careers.” This combination of strong academic preparation and long-term support continues to yield remarkable results: 80% of Steppingstone Scholars who enroll in four-year colleges earn their degree within six years, compared to only 44% of Boston district graduates.*
“Steppingstone has raised expectations within families and neighborhoods. Scholars are proving what is possible each and every day and showing what kinds of opportunities a great education can lead to.” – John Simon
These results are not just significant for individual Scholars, they impact the Boston community as a whole. “In order for Boston to maintain our leadership in fields like technology, medicine, and law, we need to continue to generate creative and driven leaders that will push these fields forward,” says Simon. “Steppingstone is helping educate those leaders.”
Still looking toward a brighter future for Boston’s students, Danziger, Simon, and Glew are excited for Steppingstone’s continued growth and innovation and are grateful for everyone who made the last 25 years so very successful. “Steppingstone has been able to attract excellence at every level,” says Danziger, “from Scholars and their families, to staff, partner schools, donors, and Board members.”
It is this village of excellent people (you!) that makes Steppingstone possible. And with your continued support, Steppingstone will keep striving to ensure that all hardworking students have the opportunity to achieve college and life success.
*Northeastern Center for Labor Market Studies