The S.T.E.P.U.P. Foundation Of Greater Washington, D.C. Inc.


Jahidi White presents 2001-2002 Pollin Award
for Outstanding Dedication to the Community!


Our Story Begins...

The mid-1980s times were tumultuous for children and families. Innocent babies, born addicted to crack and abandoned to foster care, have now come of age.  The lack of parental involvement due to unemployment, drug abuse or prison leaves youth afraid and fending for themselves. With the current economic uncertainties, youth crime and victimization is increasing.  Ex-offenders--returning after long prison sentences--find fewer services exist to support their reentry mandates: employment, housing and self-sufficiency. Most find temporary refuge inside halfway houses, transitional shelters and group homes.  Others return to frail Grandparents or other reluctant relatives--all of whom--are lacking the resources and expertise needed to aid assimilation efforts. Youthful offenders will quickly fall back into a culture intent on creating its own identity through illicit behaviors -- alcohol, drugs and gang involvement. In public schools gifted teens ‘dumb-down’ under increasing peer pressure, while others—lagging behind—will drop out and don’t succeed. They become the gang members and truants living on the fringes of society—often committing a variety of criminal acts.

The S.T.E.P.U.P. Foundation's mission is "To improve the quality of life and the standard of living for children, youth and families."  Our programs and services seek to establish or change written and unwritten standards, codes, norms and attitudes which are prevalent in low-income communities.  We accept individuals, youth, families, older adults and ex-offenders.  Our programs and services rebuilds the capacity of and improve outcomes for those living in communities in crisis.  Since 1994, The S.T.E.P.U.P. Foundation has sought to empower urban youth and families to set, work toward, and achieve their personal and professional goals.  Mobile teams mentor and monitor youth in need of supervision.  We provide participants with access to information, technology and promote civic responsibility. Ms. Dickens was honored to have been nominated for and to accept the 2001-2002 [Abe] Pollin Award for Outstanding Dedication to the Community from Washington Wizard Jahidi White! Afterwards, internationally known comedian Sinbad, gave one of his best performances entertaining the audience into the New Year! 

More About Us

The S.T.E.P.U.P. Foundation has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognition for our work with youth and was nominated for the Pollin Award for Outstanding Service to the Community! Ms. Dickens has been recognized for her grassroots efforts and invited to participate in community outreach programs as a Panelist in a DC city-wide Female Gang Intervention conference at Howard University (by Metropolitan Police Department) and invited to implement educational workshops for male youth during their Annual Summer Basketball Leagues.  She is an advocate for the supporting the needs of children, youth and families during the Partnerships for Problem-Solving citywide, community training program designed to implement community-oriented crime and violence reduction activities in DC.

Ms. Dickens is contacted for her expertise and advocacy regarding the needs of youth and families and was invited to participate in the drafting and co-signing of a Letter to the Editor in the Washington City Paper.  She has led teams of committed volunteers and outreach workers who have assisted in administering the organization's programs and services under the DC Department of Mental Health (Project DC-a FEMA-funded Outreach and Education city-wide public resource) intended to address and resolve mental health and coping skills after September 11th attacks, DC Sniper Crisis, West Nile Virus.  The S.T.E.P.U.P. Foundation Of Greater Washington, DC, Inc. was selected by Fight For Children to provide outreach for The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program which provided scholarships to low-income children in Washington D.C. for tuition and other fees at participating private schools. The program was the first Federally- funded school voucher program in the United States. It was first approved in 2003 and allowed to expire in 2009.

In 2004, President George W. Bush signed the D.C. School Choice Incentive Act of 2003, creating the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program to provide scholarships to students from low-income families to attend a private school of choice. The program targeted 2,000 children from low-income families in Washington D.C. These children were given funding to help offset the cost of private schooling. In 2008, the program funded attendance at 54 D.C. private schools for students from families with an average income of $22,736, "or about 107 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four." The program was reauthorized under the SOAR Act in 2011.

Our Programs...  

The S.T.E.P.U.P Foundation Of Greater Washington, D.C. Inc. was established in the early 1980's as a voluntary organization founded to improve the standard of living and the quality of life for Children 1-13, Youth 14-26, Parents and Grandparents as Parents.  Through our programs and services, we seek to empower urban youth and families to set, work toward, and achieve their personal and professional goals.  Mobile teams mentor and monitor difficult to reach individuals and youthful populations. We focus on providing alternative programs and services to reduce crime and illegal activities among urban youth who are disproportionately incarcerated.

Overall, we offer self-help education and training programs tailored to address comprehensive, risk and harm reduction strategies, through self-help workshops designed to positively intervene in the lives of troubled youth and families in crisis to prevent involvement in senseless acts of violence.  We encourage critical thinking, leadership development, self-help training (arts education, etiquette, GED preparation, financial literacy, job skill, life skills, and parenting skills) tailored to engage at-risk, truant, disadvantaged youth, young adults and their families in the Baltimore and Washington, DC metropolitan areas.  We engage youth and families to replace idle time with structured activities to guide young people towards positive outcomes.  Programs cover topics of importance to influence social growth and development and encourage critical thinking and goal setting in other personal and professional areas such as:

Academic Enrichment, Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs, Arts Education

Civic Responsibility, Communication Skills, Computer Literacy

Driver Education, Environmental Education, Etiquette, Financial Literacy

Gang Intervention/Prevention, Health & Wellness, Home Economics (Co-Ed)

Leadership Skills, Mobile Mentors: On-Call, Mentoring, Open Forum:
     Youth Speak-out

Parenting Skills Education, Performing Arts (Dance), Physical Fitness,
     Workforce Development: Income Growth Strategies

Since 2000, our Youth Quest: 21st Century Initiative has laid the foundation for positive youth development practices and approaches for low-income individuals and families. Through outreach, education and direct services, we continue to provide opportunities for youth to experience self-discovery and foster positive growth and self sufficiency. Youth play a pivotal role in their social development. Youth development is a process by which all young people seek ways to meet their basic physical and social needs and build the strengths and self-direction to guide their own safe and healthy transition to adulthood. If young people are not provided with opportunities and supports, they will follow other (more destructive) paths in order to meet their needs.  Youth development practices and approaches views young people as assets to be developednot as problems that need fixing

We proudly follow the DC B.E.S.T. Advancing Youth Development training model.  

In 2008, The S.T.E.P.U.P. Foundation launched the Youth Quest: 21st Century Training Program to invest in Human Capital Development for Economic Success. This comprehensive approach will reduce homelessness and unemployment by creating affordable housing and aiding entry level job creation. Other programs such as information access for lifelong learning promotes learning by promoting financial literacy, basic business education to spur business and enterprise and improve short- and long-term income prospects for difficult-to-employ participants.  We must invest in low-income individuals, youth, families and ex-offenders as assets and resources within communities.  Our innovative ideas support participants becoming a vital part of the new green economy, using environmental awareness to demonstrate those benefits as opportunities for pathways-out-of-poverty and supports the prevention of recidivism among ex-offenders.

Our 2010 Property Solutions Workforce Development and training program can provide economic security which includes hard- and soft-skills job training, housing, job creation and job placement. We believe that preparation for entry level jobs helps to reduce poverty, crime and victimization. The next step is to purchase an abandoned building for additional space and expand our outreach efforts as a nonprofit developer to continue preparing our clients for the green economy.  By acquiring and rehabilitating units, we can provide managed stable housing, financial literacy education, and computer training.  Our objective is to bridge the gap between those with little or no earnings and increase family and income security through workforce development opportunities.  We will utilize job training, career enhancement, micro-enterprise projects (such as exploring sustainable agriculture or healthy local food production) and various business projects (such as weatherization and installation training) along with Neighborhood Preservation and Revitalization programs to remove the blight of abandoned and vacant houses in vulnerable neighborhoods. 

2017 Summer of Safety!

Our Random Acts of Kindness Campaign is still underway.  This fundraiser helps build our nonprofit's capacity to provide social programs that benefit low-income children, youth and families.  The Random Acts of Kindness Campaign is one response to reducing bullying, youth crime and victimization.  Funds support our Youth Quest: 21st Century Training Program to provide intervention and prevention opportunities designed in part, to counter the growing interest and participation of urban youth in the infamous 'Knock-Out' Game (a violent, unprovoked assault on innocent victims (of all ages) which is spreading across the nation) and provide mentoring and self-help workshops for youth who bully and those who are bullied.  We provide outreach and education programs geared towards children and youth in need of supervision by tailoring structured, youth development centered activities (and related field trips) designed to build confidence and self-esteem.

See the links below for news and videos about the "Knock-Out' Game (warning these videos are graphic and disturbing) which increase during the summer months:;;;;;


The S.T.E.P.U.P. Foundation Of Greater Washington, D.C. Inc. is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization.  All donations are tax deductible. To request a receipt send a detailed email request. Write 'Tax Deductible Receipt Request' in the Subject line. Provide your name, email, fax number or mailing address, describe the donation type and the retail amount of your donation. Please allow 30 days for confirmation and response.  We welcome inquiries for making financial contributions and economic partnerships from private and corporate philanthropists.  To donate, make checks payable to The S.T.E.P.U.P. Foundation of Greater Washington, DC or click on the PAYPAL link.  We appreciate your continued support.

Questions or Comments? Email inquiries to, call us at (410) 429-1157 or fax correspondence to: (443) 961-8154.

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