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1801 Superior Avenue

Annual Report 2023

Letter from our 

President/CEO and Board Chair

Dr. Jacklyn A. Chisholm
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Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm

President & CEO

Step Forward

LaRese Purnell
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LaRese Purnell

Board Chairperson

Dear Friends,

Dear Friends,

As we reflect on the past year, we are thrilled to share with you some of the innovative moments that defined Step Forward’s journey in 2023.


Innovation has been at the forefront of our efforts as we continue our mission to combat poverty and uplift our community, especially during challenging times post COVID-19. Innovation remains crucial in community service as it allows Community Action Agencies like ours to adapt to evolving needs and challenges effectively.


By fostering a culture of creative thinking and collaboration, we can develop new approaches, programs, and initiatives that address complex issues more efficiently and comprehensively. Through innovation, we are able to stay ahead of the curve, anticipate our community’s future needs, and continuously improve services to better meet the diverse needs of Cuyahoga County.


There were several standout moments of innovation this year. In January, Step Forward’s Head Start team provided unprecedented transportation for Head Start children after the Louis Stokes Early Learning Center flooded and was forced to shut down for nearly ten months. Despite the challenges, our team’s quick and innovative response ensured that the children continued to receive the care and education they deserve.

In the spring, Step Forward hosted a first-of-its-kind opportunity for men to come together and ignite a passion for growth through education, motivation and celebration. The Men’s Elevation Conference, another shining example of the innovative spirit that drives us forward, hosted more than 200 men from Northeast Ohio.


Step Forward’s Personal and Professional Development teams collaborated to offer a tax preparer’s certification program, which equipped clients with valuable skills but also addressed a crucial need for certified tax preparers in our community.


In the fall, Step Forward’s Head Start and Human Resources department worked together to relaunch the “People as Teachers in Training” program, showcasing our commitment to addressing the ongoing teacher shortage. Through the reimagined PATT program, Step Forward will train individuals passionate about early childhood education and provide them with hands-on experience within the Head Start program, while empowering them to pursue a meaningful career in an essential field.


Finally, yet importantly, after serving a record number of clients throughout 2023, the Home Energy Assistance Program partnered with the Cleveland Housing Network and the United Way of Greater Cleveland to offer a call center so that together, we can provide crucial utility assistance to a larger number of individuals and families facing energy-related challenges.


Innovative solutions like those mentioned often lead to a greater impact, as they can reach more people, achieve better outcomes, and inspire positive change on a larger scale.


As we set our sights on the future, we are steadfast in our commitment to fostering a culture of creativity within the agency. Your continued support, whether through financial contributions, advocacy for our programs and services, or volunteering your time and expertise, has been instrumental in our ability to make a meaningful impact in the lives of those we serve. We extend our deepest gratitude to each and every one of you for your dedication to our mission.


Together, we will continue to strive for positive change in Cuyahoga County. Thank you for being a vital part of our journey.


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