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Step Forward building

Message from our
Board Chair & President

Each year, we make it a priority to highlight one theme we felt was vital to our agency throughout the past twelve months.

After a significant adjustment in how Step Forward served the community in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a long-awaited name change in 2021, we have spent the past few years 2021 and 2022 refocusing.

We spent a lot of time adapting to the new world around us, but also making sure we stayed true to the agency’s purpose in helping people attain self-sufficiency.

Throughout the past few years, Step Forward has been presented with countless opportunities to connect with Cuyahoga County residents in need. Our staff responded to each individual and family, not as employees, but as humans first. The hills we have climbed together along with the optimism Step Forward has witnessed illustrates the strength of our agency during difficult times and it proves that this organization – and the clients we serve – are nothing short of resilient.


Hence, resiliency is what we have decided to emphasize throughout this year’s annual report.


You’ll see resiliency in Brittany McKown, a single, unemployed mother, who first turned to Step Forward for help when she was pregnant and then returned for additional assistance years later.

You’ll see resiliency in Briana Cannada, who wanted to make sure she built a successful future for her children by enrolling each of them in Early Head Start and Head Start.

You’ll recognize the resiliency in Nina Davis, who in her senior years, struggled to maintain basic necessities as inflation and prices for everything increased and her social security checks remained the same.

You’ll see strength in Tracey Williams, who searched high and low for a job for eight years. He is now sharing his story, hoping to inspire someone else, after turning to our agency for assistance and finally securing a maintenance position within Step Forward.

This year, we are proud to report that Step Forward’s resiliency has allowed our programming numbers to return nearly back to normal.

Fifty-seven years in the making, we are more confident now than ever that Step Forward has a clear brand and a consistent voice going forward. As we step into 2023, we are prepared to amplify the momentum of that ongoing mission: transform lives and strengthen communities; one person, one family, one step at a time. We hope you’ll join us in doing so.


We hope you’re as excited about the future as we are.

With gratitude,

Dear Friends,
Kathryn Hall
Jacklyn Chisholm
Kathryn M. Hall
Board Chair
Dr. Chisholm Signature.png
Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm
CEO & President

Our Officers & Directors


Board Chairperson: Kathryn M. Hall

Vice Chairperson: LaRese Purnell

Treasurer: Brian Gallagher

Secretary: Yomarie Gonzalez


Cassandra Brown-Collier

Eugenia Cash-Kirkland

Michelle Curry

Deidra Davis
Kira Hewko

Christopher Kelly
Cecil B. Lee

Michael Moore
Jerry Primm

Adam Roth

Judge Michael J. Ryan

Qianna Tidmore

Sherelle L. Tucker

Joyce L. Walker

Help us connect with residents in need and keep up to date with our services on social media.

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Leadership Team

Jacklyn Chisholm

Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm, PH.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Derek Cluse, CPA

Chief of Staff

Derek Cluse
Dr. Thea Wilson

Dr. Thea Wilson

Vice President of Children and Families

Douglass Bennett

Douglass Bennett

Vice President of Community Services and External Affairs

Madeline Corchado

Madeline Corchado

Vice President of Human Resources

By The Numbers


Employees serving residents in Cuyahoga County








Per Year




Cuyahoga County





Cuyahoga County

Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm, PH.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer 

Douglass Bennett

Vice President of External Affairs 

Derek Cluse, CPA

Chief of Staff

Robert Rose

Product Designer

Dr. Thea Wilson

Vice President for Children and Families

A boy attends Head Start

Real People

A teacher stands on the bus

Real Stories

A teacher helps a child

Real Impact

Where We Serve

Baby & Mommy Support

The pregnancy test is positive. You're excited. You're scared. But you turn to Step Forward.


Our agency's Family Development Specialists are ready to help, guide, and make sure you're ready for this next chapter of your life. Through Baby and Mommy Support, our agency offers parents one-on-one consultations, nutritional counseling, and guidance on how to navigate health insurance, choose a hospital, and finding the right doctor.

Expectant mothers learn how to cope with stress, breastfeeding, postpartum depression, and more. Step Forward also connects expectant mothers with important resources to make sure they're equipped when the baby arrives.

A mother holds her son

Brianna Preston

Graduated from BAMS

"I loved the resources that Step Forward had to offer. Because I'm a first-time mom, it really helped me a lot!"

A teacher holds a baby

The 2021 & 2022 annual BAMS showers connected


expectant mothers to support services and baby items in preparation for their newborns

Photos from the 2022 BAMS Baby Shower

BAMS Shower 2022

A woman holds her baby

Early Head Start

Step Forward connects parents and guardians to Early Head Start as soon as their baby is born. Our agency is equipped to offer early childhood education to babies as young as six weeks old, either at your home or at one of our ten sites located throughout Cuyahoga County.


Each center features colorful and inviting classrooms with caring and compassionate educators. Each child will have the opportunity to play with age-appropriate toys, equipment and learning materials. At each location, Step Forward provides necessary items like diapers and formula.

A child reads a book

At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, at least


of Early Head Start students met or exceeded the expected skill level when participating cooperatively and constructively in group situations

A child colors with her crayon

At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, at least


of Early Head Start students met or exceeded the expected skill level for exploring and describing spatial relationships and shapes

Head Start

At the age of three, students transition to our Head Start program. Our passionate teachers combine classroom instruction and learning through play to prepare them for kindergarten.


Each child receives individualized observations, and health, dental and nutritional support.

A group of children cheer

At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, at least


of Head Start students met or exceeded the expected skill level for balancing needs and rights of themselves and others

Briana Cannada

Briana Cannada

Head Start Parent

"I get to see my son get excited about coming to school each day! We feel confident that Head Start will be fundamental in his educational journey."


Early Head Start & Head Start students received dental assistance*


Early Head Start & Head Start students received medical check ups*


Early Head Start & Head Start students caught up on immunizations*

*Between the 2021-2022 school year

Head Start is offered at home, at one of Step Forward's ten centers, or through partnerships with school districts and childcare centers county-wide.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted classroom instruction in 2020, Step Forward's Head Start is proud to report students are back in the classroom and more eager to learn than ever.


Since 2017, Step Forward's Head Start has helped to successfully transition 5,775 children and families to kindergarten.

Annual Early Head Start & Head Start Enrollment

All of Step Forward's directly-operated Head Start centers are five-star rated through Ohio's Step Up to Quality Initiative.

Read more from our blog

A boy plays at Head Start

Head Start families encourage others to enroll

Head Start Alumni Are Doing Great Work

Brianne and Bryant and mother

Brianne Bryant

She is taking movement and music class to a new level! Meet Brianne Bryant, a Head Start alumna and vocal artist.

Zach Riggins and family

Zach Riggins

A head start earned Zach Riggins two degrees while in high school! Read what this Head Start alumnus is doing now. 

Malik Mays and his mother

Malik Mays

From Head Start to the operating room, meet Malik Mays, Head Start alumnus and soon-to-be M.D.

It doesn't matter how old you are, Step Forward wants to help you discover your passion and find your lifelong career. Through our professional development program, Family Development Specialists and licensed social workers will help determine your interests, assess your skills and establish a plan to achieve your goals. You will identify barriers to success, map out resources to overcome those challenges, and have the opportunity to attend free training, workshops, and job fairs.


Step Forward does more than just update your resume and connect you with hiring agencies. After successfully completing certain programs, the agency will equip you with a refurbished computer and new clothing for your interview!


Between 2021 and 2022, Step Forward is proud to report that The Digital Connection Program exceeded prior years' goals and provided more than 50 refurbished computers, at no cost, to Cuyahoga County residents.

Customer Service Training I & II

The six-week Customer Service Training Program is designed to prepare individuals for an office/computer-based work environment that revolves around a customer service-centered workplace.


Adult Basic Literacy Skills

Designed to promote and improve a clients' reading, writing and mathematics skills while integrating basic computer literacy technology to enhance employability skills.

A woman looks at her computer

Job Readiness & Placement

Designed to assist the client that has been unemployed for more than 100 days in acquiring employment while updating their job search toolkit. 

A man mops the floor

Microsoft Office Suite Training

Provides enrichment for clients with a basic grasp of Microsoft Office software, hardware components, Windows Operating Systems and more. 

A woman looks at her computer

Between September 2021 and August 2022,


of Step Forward Global Support Services Training graduates continued to follow an educational pathway to obtaining their 'dream job'

The teacher instructs a class of adults.
Step Forward staff discuss data

Between September 2021 and August 2022, Step Forward's monthly job fairs connected more than 


job seekers with actively hiring agencies


of clients that attended Step Forward's One Day Job Placement Service secured employment

A man stares into the camera

Terrell Chambers

"If you're looking to further polish your professional, adult career, Step Forward is the best place for that. I have more structure and a better path for what I want to do going forward. I want to travel the world and eventually, own my own business"

A woman looks at her computer

Natasha Mitchell

"Enrolling in Step Forward's adult-learning classes has helped set me up for a better future and for a better paying job. The teachers are great! They are very informative and make sure everyone has a good understanding of the lessons. "

Professional Development


Amid the pandemic, especially, times have been tough. That is why Step Forward's Home Energy Assistance Program offers six different programs, including the Low-Income Water Assistance Program, the Summer Cooling Program, Winter Crisis Program and Percentage of Income Payment Plan.


Between September 2021 and August 2022, more Cuyahoga County residents applied for assistance than ever before in order to keep their water, air conditioning, heat, and lights on.

Bowls sit on a kitchen counter


Households applied for help through our Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program

A heater on a wall


Households received help through our Winter Crisis Program

A fan


Households received help through our Summer Cooling Program

Money sits in a jar


Households applied for the Percentage of Income Payment Plan

HEAP Distributed


in Utility Assistance

Personal Development

You're juggling bills, finding a job, childcare, and more. You are an inspiration! But don't forget, your mental health and well-being matter just as much as your physical health! Step Forward's personal development courses continue to offer individual and family counseling, parenting classes, anger management workshops, a domestic violence program and tax preparation.

A mother stands with her daughter

Between September 2021 and August 2022,


of clients who turned to Step Forward for personal income tax help qualified for an income tax refund

A man sits at a computer

Between September 2021 and August 2022,


of clients in counseling services completed individual service plans

Through federal funding and grants, Step Forward continues to distribute emergency assistance to help with rental, utility and internet payments.

A woman looks into the camera

Jennifer Span

Received counseling

“Step Forward has a great group of people who truly care about you. They are there to put you back on your feet again. They will help make you whole again."

Nina Davis smiles for the camera

Nina Davis

Received rental assistance

"I got behind and as prices for everything started going up, my paychecks didn't change. I needed help. (Step Forward) can lead you in the right direction."


Between September 2021 and August 2022, Step Forward distributed

in emergency rental and mortgage assistance

Step Forward helps low-income individuals and families address immediate needs, but the ultimate goal is self-sufficiency. With the help of Cuyahoga County businesses and community partners, Step Forward helps you build long-term skills to transform your life for generations to come.

Workshops & Programs

Professional Development


Global Support Services Training I & II: This customer service / computer-based training course is a blend of instructor-driven curriculum and online courses that provides a foundational understanding of Microsoft software. The program is designed to prepare individuals for an office/computer-based work environment that revolves around a customer service-centered workplace.

Microsoft Office Software Training: This hybrid training is designed to provide enrichment for clients with a basic grasp of Microsoft Office software applications, hardware components, the Windows operating system, and more while working alongside certified IT professionals.

How to Think Like a CEO: Designed for entrepreneurial spirits, this workshop provides skills and resources for clients to pursue their business goals. Throughout the virtual workshop, clients will have the opportunity to create a business plan, and develop their mission statement, marketing strategy, and more.

Digital Connection: This workshop is open to students who have successfully completed the, Global Support Services Training I and MOS/IC3 Digital Literacy Certification course. Clients receive a refurbished computer and work alongside the Digital Connection Personal Computer Technician in learning skills designed to assist them in installation, set-up and troubleshooting (minor issues) related to their personal computers.

Job Readiness: This workshop is designed to assist clients who have been unemployed for more than 100 days in acquiring employment while updating their job search toolkit. Clients work with Employment Specialists to learn how to best utilize soft skills in the workplace, practice mock interviews and learn best practices when using virtual platforms for interviewing and presentations.   

Adult Basic Literacy Skills Workshop: This workshop is designed to promote and improve a client’s reading, writing, and mathematics skills.  This workshop is intended to improve educational and employment opportunities by reconnecting clients with the technical skills necessary to function in a workplace culture. Individuals who complete this workshop may be referred to other training to further enhance their career goals and training opportunities.

Job Placement Assistance: The One Day Job Placement Workshop offers opportunities for clients with fewer than 100 days of unemployment to work an Employment Specialist.  This workshop is designed to best match experience and education with employment opportunities. The goal is to eliminate obstacles to acquiring your ‘dream job’ and promote employment opportunities that best build a career pathway that will lead to a ‘living wage’.


Family Development

Emergency Assistance: The emergency assistance program helps residents with rent payments, utility assistance, internet services and additional emergency support including, food, child care, car repair assistance and more.

Personal Income Tax: Personal Income Tax services are offered by Family Development Specialists that are certified by the Internal Revenue Service. Tax preparers will help participants identify if they are eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and enable them to retain all of their tax refund while avoiding preparation costs.

Family Development: Family Development Specialists provide one-on-one assistance to address immediate needs by identifying barriers to success and creating goals with clients as they walk beside them to achieve their goals.

Baby and Mommy Support Program (BAMS): Baby and Mommy Support Program services include one-on-one consultation and training and life skills including how to care for your baby, nutrition and wellness, self-care, how to cope with stress, breastfeeding, postpartum depression and more.

Personal Development

Individual Counseling: Counseling services are offered by licensed social workers who assess clients and work with them one-on-one to create an Individual service plan that will guide their treatment. Varies of therapeutic techniques and interventions will be used that are evidenced based and/or promote mental and emotional well-being that facilitate and empower clients to live their life at an optimal functional level.

Parenting Program: Step Forward’s Parenting program teaches participants about child development and building healthy relationships. Participants receive peer support while gaining skills needed to reduce stress and support healthy interactions.

Anger Management: This curriculum-based workshop is run by our licensed social workers who teach participants how to effectively manage their anger. Participants will monitor their own emotions, work on communication skills and learn how to respond instead of reacting.

Domestic Violence: This program is a batterer’s intervention multimodal evidenced-based practice for male participants to learn and implement alternatives to abusive and controlling behaviors in their intimate partner relationships.  In addition to the workshop, staff can assist the entire family by providing resources to treat all who are involved. Successful participants receive a certificate at the conclusion of the workshop.


Home Energy Assistance

Energy Assistance: These programs assist income-eligible Cuyahoga County residents with heating and cooling bills. The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) office is open year-round to assist residents with long-term solutions and/or short-term needs.

Community Partners


Champion Step Forward's Mission


The Center for Community Solutions

Citizen's Coalition

Cleveland City Council

Community Action Partnership

Cuyahoga County Council

Family and Children First Council

National Community Action Foundation

National Head Start Foundation

Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies

Ohio Head Start Association

Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy

Ohio Urban Resources System (OURS)

PRE4CLE - Cleveland Metropolitan Schools

State of Ohio Department of Development

State Representative Phillip M. Robinson

State Representative Thomas F. Patton

State Representative Kent Smith

State Representative Bishara W. Addison

State Representative Terrance Upchurch

State Representative Shayla L. Davis

State Representative Juanita O. Brent

State Representative Bride Rose Sweeney

State Representative Jeffrey A. Crossman

State Senator Robert Portman

Senator Sherrod Brown

U.S. Representative Steve Chabot

U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup

U.S. Representative Joyce Beatty

U.S. Representative Jim Jordan

U.S. Representative Robert Latta

U.S. Representative Bill Johnson

U.S. Representative Bob Gibbs

U.S. Representative Warren Davidson

U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur

U.S. Representative Michael Turner

U.S. Representative Shontel Brown

U.S. Representative Troy Balderson

U.S. Representative Tim Ryan

U.S. Representative David Joyce

U.S. Representative Mike Carey

U.S. Representative Anthony Gonzalez


Provide funding from private or public sources

Arby's Foundation

The Cleveland Clinic*

Cleveland Foundation

Cuyahoga County

Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative

Cuyahoga County - Invest in Children


Early Childhood Education

First Energy

Key Bank

Ohio Department of Development

Step Up to Quality

PNC Bank - Grow Up Great Initiative

United Way of Greater Cleveland


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

In-Kind Supporters

Give time, donate services or provide funding to Step Forward's Head Start Program**

Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine



Children's Museum of Cleveland

City of Cleveland Police Department

Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Cleveland Metropolitan School District*

Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority

East Cleveland City Schools - Pre-Kindergarten Program*

Euclid City Schools - Pre-Kindergarten Program*

Friends and Family of Step Forward Head Start


Meyer Design

Referral Partners

Refer individuals or families to Step Forward for programs and services

BEST Community Resource Center

Breakthrough Schools

Brenda Glass Trauma Center

The Centers for Families and Children

Cleveland Department of Aging

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress

Cleveland Municipal Court

Cleveland State University

Community of Faith Collaborative

Cuyahoga Community College

Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services

Cuyahoga County Department of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS)

Cuyahoga County Library

Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry

Cuyahoga Jobs and Family Services

Donna Smallwood Senior Center

Friendly Inn Settlement Corp.

Help Me Grow

Hilton Hotels

JACK Casino

Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center

Kussette Quinones Ministries

Langston Hughes Community Center*

Lissette Quinones Ministries

Manufacturers Advocacy Growth Network (MAGNET)

May Dugan Center


The MetroHealth System

Ministerio Dorcas

Molina Health Care

Moms First

Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services, Inc. (NEON)*

Nueva Luz

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District*

Seeds of Literacy

Shaw High School - Early Childhood Program

Slavic VIllage Development Corporation*

Smart Development Inc.

Stella Maris

Spanish American Committee

Starting Point

United Pastors in Mission

University Hospitals Case Medical Center

Union Miles Development Corporation

Urban League of Greater Cleveland*

Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

Women's Recovery Center

Workforce Investment Board - Youth Council

Service Partners

Provide integral/complementary services to the people Step Forward serves

Achievement Centers for Children

Applewood Centers

Asian Services in Action, Inc.

Beech Brook

Burlington Coat Factory

Case Wester Reserve University Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing

Case Western Reserve University Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences

CHN Housing Partners

Cleveland Furniture Bank

Cleveland Job Corps

Cleveland Public Library

Community Housing Solutions

Daily Dose of Reading

Dave's Supermarkets

Discount Drug Mart

Dress for Success

East End Neighborhood House

The Free Clinic

Gesher Cleveland Benefit and Resource Center


Greater Cleveland Food Bank

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland

Ibn Sina Free Clinic

The Literacy Cooperative

Music Settlement

Nature Explore

NEO Skills Corps (Americorps Volunteers)

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS)

OhioMeansJobs - Cleveland-Cuyahoga County

Playhouse Square

Rainey Institute

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Shaker Lakes Nature Center

Towards Employment

Youth Opportunities Unlimited

*Denotes partner meets criteria to fit into more than one category

**As a Head Start agency, Step Forward is required to fund 20 percent of its Head Start program


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Federal Head Start
02/01/21 - 01/31/22

Federal Head Start In-Kind Contribution
02/01/21 - 01/31/22

American Rescue Plan (ARP)
04/01/21 - 03/31/23

COVID-19 Pandemic Support Payment 3 (PSP - 3)
02/01/21 - 01/31/22

Home Relief Grant (CAA-HRG)
03/13/21 - 09/30/22

First Energy Company

Fuel Fund IX
01/01/21 - 12/31/21

Fuel Fund X
01/01/22 - 12/31/22

First Energy Service Grant 2021
01/01/21 - 12/31/21

First Energy Service Grant 2022
01/01/20 - 12/31/20

Early Childhood

Early Childhood Education - IX
07/01/21 - 06/30/22

Early Childhood Education - VIII
07/01/20 - 06/30/21

U.S. Department of Treasury


Home Relief Grant (CAA-HRG)

03/31/21 - 09/30/22



10/01/20 - 09/30/21



10/01/21 - 09/30/22



10/01/20 - 09/30/21


Cuyahoga County

Universal Pre-Kindergarten - 3.0-1

08/01/21 - 10/31/22


Universal Pre-Kindergarten - 2.0-4






Ohio Department of Development 

Cleveland Foundation Grant

COVID-19 Rapid Response

02/01/20 - 01/31/21


United Way of Greater Cleveland

United Way Services 3.0 - EHS

07/01/20 - 09/30/21


Local Programs

Global Support Services Training I Key Bank (GSST I)

01/01/22 - 12/31/22


FY '22 Expenditures

HEAP Administrative Program


09/01/21 - 08/31/22



09/01/19 - 08/31/20


Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP)

10/01/21 - 09/30/23


Heap Energy Assistance Program


11/01/21 - 03/31/22



11/01/20 - 03/31/21


HEAP Summer Cooling


07/01/21 - 08/31/21


Percentage of Income Payment Plan


01/01/21 - 12/31/21



01/01/22 - 12/31/22


Community Services Block Grant

COVID-19 Community Service Block Grant (CSBG - CARES)

03/27/20 - 09/30/22



01/01/20 - 12/31/21


Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV)

04/01/20 - 07/31/22


Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF-ESP)

11/01/20 - 12/31/21


Child Education

Community Service

Energy Assistance

Food Programs


FY '22 Revenue

Grant & Contract Revenue

In-Kind Contributions

Amortized Rent



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