Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the Stepping Stones Project?
- Stepping Stones Project (SSP) started in 2002 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. SSP operates with a small staff, a volunteer Board of Directors, and almost 100 part time employees and volunteers. 100% of SSP Board members make charitable donations to the organization. We have about 10 groups start per year, which means about 80 families join each year. This made our 'village' almost 200 people in 2015, including families, Staff, Board, all Council members, and volunteers.
Where can I find the details and what can I tell my child about Stepping Stones?
What is a typical group like? What do they do? How do I get to hear about it as the parent?
- Please take a look at this document of several 'Group Summaries', typically sent within a day or two after a group. Besides Parent Meetings, this is the main way the group parents and SSP Staff keep track of what's happening in the group. You also view our News Page for more recent examples of real life Stepping Stones groups.
How does the scheduling work?
- We at SSP do our best to support you and your family being able to attend any and all Meetings, Daylongs, Parent Meetings, Summer Trips and community (or 'village') events. We give 100% effort to include you in everything, and, depend on your flexibility and responsiveness to make it work.
- Please see our Program Details Page for more detailed scheduling information.
- Regular group meetings tend to be on weeknight evenings, such as 6-8pm every-other-Monday. Daylongs might be 10-4pm on a weekend. Summer trips range from 1-5 nights, depending on the youth and where their group is in it's evolution. These are just examples. The scheduling is done with the families of the actual group at least a season in advance.
What are the primary sources of SSP revenue?
- SSP is primarily as a tuition-based organization. Our aspiration is to increase our ratio of grants, donations, and fundraising over time. Historically, our revenues have relied heavily on tuition compromising as much as 95% of our annual income. However, SSP is focused on diversifying funding to make the program more affordable and accessible to more youth. In 2015, our funding breakdown was follows: tuition (63%), fundraising (19%), and grants (18%).
How much does SSP cost?
- SSP standard tuition for groups starting Fall 2017 is $250/month. This translates to about $35/hr of face time from both Leaders. There may be additional costs for wilderness trips and daylong activities. Families have input on the focus and cost of these trips. The summer wilderness trip typically costs between $100-$300 depending on length. Daylong activities usually do not involve additional charges, but when they do, typically the cost is between $10-$30.
- Tuition Assistance is available for families who qualify, as it is our mission to provide a group for every child who may benefit. Please contact us for a TA application.
What do I receive for the tuition I pay?
- Your tuition pays for a unique and meaningful Coming of Age experience for your family, led by two highly qualified Leaders, your Elder, and supported by an entire inter-generational 'village'. This includes regular meetings throughout the school year, quarterly extended daylong adventures, a summer trip, and quarterly Parent Meetings. Stepping Stones also offers an Village Daylong experience, as well as additional immersion opportunities for your family.
Where exactly do my tuition dollars go?
- Leaders: The tuition predominantly goes to pay Leaders. It is incredibly important that we provide you and your children with the highest quality mentoring available. Leaders spend 18 hours/quarter in meetings with your children. Leaders also spend an additional 12 hrs/quarter (total of 30 hrs/quarter) preparing for meetings, writing meeting summaries, communicating with parents, attending Leader Cohort and Peer Consultation, receiving ongoing mentoring, and performing administrative tasks. Leaders offer many more hours to the group than specified.
- Training: Our Leaders are required to participate in monthly ongoing training during their employment. We engage long time experienced SSP Leaders and Elders to facilitate both our Cohort training and our Learning Community training, where Leaders participate in group activities, peer consult and mentoring. Your Leaders are provided high quality mentoring and training, including a learning cohort and Peer Consultation, advised by skillful wilderness and rites of passage guides, Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) and MFT Supervisors. SSP also provides additional support for the Leaders from our Board, Elders Council, and general Learning Community. In addition, SSP offers Council Training from outside experts from the Ojai Foundation and also brings in facilitators for specialized training.
- Program Development. A portion of your tuition dollars pay for ongoing curriculum development of our Coming of Age Program, including engaging a diverse team to gather, receive and integrate feedback. SSP also hosts two retreats a year that provide training in diversity, intergenerational work and community building for our whole internal village.
- Administration: Though a large portion of our organization is run by volunteers, some of your tuition dollars pay for administration, including insurance, marketing, ongoing communication with families, starting new groups, bookkeeping, and general management of the organization by a phenomenal staff.
- Tuition Assistance (TA). We at SSP feel it is one of our responsibilities to make sure a diverse range of youth have access to our program. We actively raise funds to provide Tuition Assistance for families with demonstrated financial need. We may use tuition revenue to support our ability to offer TA.
What Tuition Assistance (TA) or payment plans are available?
- SSP requires a 2-3 year commitment from the Leaders and families. This includes a corresponding two to three-year financial commitment from families and the organization. Invoices are sent monthly via email and payments automatically made via credit card one week later. Invoices for supplemental costs will be sent with the invoice in the month following the activity. TA and alternative payment plans are available to families who demonstrate financial need. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org, subject: Tuition Assistance, with inquiries.
What factors influence my family's eligibility for a payment plan, Tuition Assistance (TA) or additional costs?
- Amount of funds available for TA
- Level of need among all families applying for a TA in a given year
- Relationship between any additional costs once your group starts (such as a camping trip or daylong) and funds available for that group
- Required information and forms must be submitted in a timely manner
Who do I contact with questions about billing?
- Contact email@example.com or call us at 415-968-6347. It is preferable to ask questions within one week of receiving the invoice, before you are charged.