The Problem

Half of Arizona’s public high schools have college completion rates of 5% or less.

The lost potential is staggering!


Our Solution



  • Debunking the myth that college is unattainable for low-income students due to cost.

  • Exposure to colleges with excellent financial aid, making college affordable.

  • Finding the right college fit.

  • Understanding financial aid.


Focused Guidance

  • On course selection with emphasis on challenging core courses.

  • On what to do outside of the classroom.

  • On strategies for time management and organization.

  • On local and national scholarship opportunities.


Skills Development

  • Self-advocacy and resiliency training.

  • Leadership training.

  • Writing skills development.

  • Standardized test preparation.



Access to Challenging & Empowering Experiences 

  • Residential pre-college summer programs.

  • Outdoor leadership experiences.

  • Campus visit programs.

  • Academic enhancement opportunities.

Setting the Bar High

  • Working hard.

  • Taking personal responsibility.

  • Honoring commitments.

  • Pursuing excellence.

“Words cannot describe how blessed I feel to have come across STEP. I will never stop being grateful.”
— Nathalie Guevara, STEP Alum, Pomona College

Our Results

After years of working with students in our expedition-only program and seeing higher college persistence and graduation rates - but not high enough - we launched our more comprehensive College-Prep Program.

Since the start of our College-Prep Program:

HS Graduation


College Enrollment


College Persistence


Our alumni are thriving at schools around the country, including:

Arizona State University

Barnard College

Bowdoin College

Brown University

Claremont McKenna College

Colgate University

Columbia University

Duke University


Emory University

Georgetown University

Georgia Institute of Technology

Grand Canyon University

Harvey Mudd College

Lehigh University


Middlebury College

Northern Arizona University

Occidental College

Pitzer College

Pomona College

Scripps College

Smith College

St. Mary’s University

Swarthmore College

Tufts University

U.S. Air Force Academy

U.S. Naval Academy

University of Arizona

University of Chicago


UNC – Chapel Hill

University of Notre Dame

University of Pennsylvania

University of Richmond

University of Rochester

University of Southern California

Vassar College

Washington University in St. Louis

Wellesley College

Wesleyan University

Williams College

“STEP has acquired a strong reputation with colleges because there’s a lot of work on the students’ part. These are really committed students and STEP is obviously a transformative experience.”
— Victoria Romero, Vice President for Enrollment, Scripps College

Beyond the Degree

Our alumni are already having an impact in their families, communities, and the world as role models and young leaders.

Generational change starts with just one “STEP”. 

“I’m that 1%. I want to serve as a role model for future students. If younger students can see someone like them be successful, they will be inspired to pursue their own dreams.”
— Sandra Gonzalez, Doctoral Student in Biomedical Engineering at Emory University and Georgia Tech
“STEP’s training was huge for me during my years at the Naval Academy.  I want to inspire people, just like STEP did for me.”
— Erica Renee, 1st Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Osprey Aircraft Pilot
“STEP trained me to be a leader but also to be compassionate, aware, and empathetic towards others. I look forward to bringing this into my future medical practice.”
— Stephanie Calderon, University of Arizona Graduate, Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar