Step Forward helps people find hope, believe in their future and take steps to make it a reality.
Our mission is to propel educational attainment and economic self-sufficiency for multiple generations throughout Cuyahoga County.
As the state’s designated anti-poverty agency for Cuyahoga County, Step Forward is tasked and trusted to lead the fight on the ground against poverty in our community. The nonprofit organization helps low-income individuals and families address immediate needs and build long-term skills to transform their lives through early childhood education programs, adult skills training, and other support.
In 2023, more than 90% of our $42 million operating budget directly supported programs and services, enabling Step Forward to serve more than 29,000 people in our community.
Step Forward was formerly the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland.
For decades, we quietly, steadfastly opened our doors to help low-income individuals and families in Cuyahoga County take steps toward brighter futures. The organization formed in 1964 in response to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty which established the nation’s Head Start early childhood education program and numerous initiatives designed to empower individuals to move beyond the situation they were born into or found themselves unintentionally a part. For more than 50 years, we have helped low-income individuals and families address and overcome the causes of poverty specific to their situation.
Our 12 locations include seven Head Start early childhood learning and family involvement centers, four neighborhood opportunity centers, and one Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) office in downtown Cleveland. All locations are served by the Rapid Transit Authority.
To learn more about Step Forward, visit the home page to sign up to receive our e-newsletter each month. Also, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @StepFwrdToday. Quickly find the answers to many of your questions on our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.
Step Forward is a recipient of Community Services Block Grant funding.
At Step Forward, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are the heartbeat of our vibrant community.
We are more than just a team; we are a tapestry of unique backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives woven together to create a rich and innovative environment.
Step Forward's commitment to diversity means that we embrace the richness of the human experience, recognizing that it fuels creativity and drives excellence. We believe that every individual brings a valuable viewpoint to the table, and we actively seek out and celebrate those differences.
Equity is the cornerstone of our culture, ensuring that each member of our agency has equal access to opportunities, growth, and success.
Inclusion is not just a buzzword here; it's our agency's way of life. We strive to create a warm and welcoming space where every voice is heard, valued, and respected.
At Step Forward, we understand that a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment isn't just morally right – it's the foundation for innovative solutions and collective achievement. Join us in building a future where everyone's story matters, where collaboration knows no bounds, and where together, we make a real impact.