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4 Reasons you should support Step Forward on Giving Tuesday

November 2022. It is a cold, blustery, winter day in Greater Cleveland. Outside, there is snow on the ground. And yet, without a doubt, individuals and families are suffering.

Some are dressing in layers because they can’t afford heat. Others are sleeping on the street because they have nowhere else to go. They can’t afford a security deposit or monthly rent.

The 2022 Needs Assessment illustrates why Step Forward is so needed throughout Cuyahoga County:

  • Researchers found nearly one in five Cuyahoga County residents live below the poverty threshold; One in three of those people live in the city of Cleveland

  • Out of the 89,937 children under the age of six who live in Cuyahoga County, about 23,418 (more than 20 percent) of them live below the poverty level

  • Out of the 70 responses surveyors received, about 40 percent of people indicated they, at one time, had to choose whether to buy food or pay utility bills or buy food or pay for medicine/medical care

In 1964, Step Forward was established in response to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. For the last 60 years, the agency has been devoted to helping low-income individuals and families address immediate needs and build long-term skills to transform their lives for generations to come through early childhood education programs, adult skills training, personal and professional development and the Home Energy Assistance Program.

Now, even more people are needing help. With rising inflation and higher costs for everything including gas, medications and groceries, a record amount of people have been turning to Step Forward for assistance. HEAP, for example, received more than 26,000 phone calls from people trying to make Winter Crisis appointments within the first three weeks of the program being open. That is 60 percent more phone calls than HEAP received in

An Energy Assistance Specialist speaks with a Step Forward client about home energy assistance

the same time period in 2021. Step Forward has also learned poverty is spreading into Cleveland’s suburbs more and more. Researchers with the Center for Community Solutions revealed the ten cities that saw the highest increases in the number of people in poverty, including North Olmsted, South Euclid, Brook Park, Euclid, Richmond Heights, Warrensville Heights, Solon, Berea, Oakwood Village and Bedford.

Step Forward is committed to our mission and that is to propel education attainment and economic self-sufficiency for multiple generations throughout Cuyahoga County. Now, we’re asking our supporters and community partners to “step forward” and help as well. We want to continue building our ongoing legacy and help as many individuals and families as possible.

Why you should donate to Step Forward

1. You’re helping provide a quality Early Childhood Education to income-eligible children

Step Forward offers Early Head Start and Head Start. Early Head Start serves pregnant mothers and children ages six weeks through three-years old. Early Head Start centers provide coaching, nutritional counseling, childbirth education, newborn and parenting classes as well as a nurturing and developmentally enriching environment for young children. The sites also provide necessary baby and toddler items like formula and diapers.

When the child turns three, they are eligible for Head Start. The program promotes kindergarten readiness through a love for learning. The children follow a curriculum and receive individualized assessments.