Tuition and Financials
We recognize how important it is that our financial relationships be based on mutual respect, clarity and open communication. We welcome a discussion to clarify any of the following information. The financial portion of COA groups is an essential part of building a strong foundation for each group and ensures our ability to compensate talented group leaders, as well as manage our time and efforts in order to build a stronger future for your family and the organization.
1. Who runs Stepping Stones Project?
Stepping Stones Project (SSP) started in 2002 and is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. At this time, SSP operates with one staff member and an all-volunteer Board of Directors responsible for fiscal oversight of the organization. One hundred percent of SSP Board members make charitable donations to the organization.
2. What are the primary sources of SSP revenue?
SSP currently operates primarily as a tuition-based organization, although our aspiration is to increase our ratio of grants, donations, and fundraising over time. Historically, our revenues have been comprised as follows: tuition (75-90%), fundraising (10-25%), and grants (0-5%).
3. How much does SSP cost?
SSP standard tuition is $215/month. Important note: Tuition Assistance is available for families who qualify, as it is our mission to provide a group for every boy or girl who may benefit. Please contact us to apply. 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-$20. Occasionally, day long activities can cost more, depending on the activity.
4. What do I receive for the tuition I pay?
Your tuition pays for a unique Coming of Age experience for your son or daughter, led by two highly qualified leaders and supported by additional SSP structures, including peer consultations and mentoring for leaders, the SSP Vision Council who provide additional support for the leaders and our Board, and an Elders Council. Your regular tuition also covers quarterly parent check-in and support meetings.
5. Where do my tuition dollars go?
Your tuition dollars cover the following costs:
- Leader pay. The tuition predominantly goes to leader pay, as we feel it is important to have the highest quality leaders. Each quarter, each leader will spend 18 hours in meetings with his/her group. Leaders will also spend an additional 12 hours/quarter (for a total of 30 hours/quarter) preparing for the meetings, writing meeting summaries, communicating with parents, receiving peer consult mentoring, and dealing with administrative tasks.
- Peer Consultation. Vision Council Staff provide regular peer consult support for the SSP Leaders, during which all the Leaders will meet together to discuss the groups and receive additional support.
- Mentorship. Leaders stay in regular contact with a mentor who is a seasoned member of SSP who provides a third source of leader expertise supporting the development of the group.
- Administrative costs. Because a large portion of our organization is run on a volunteer basis, a minimal amount of tuition dollars pay for administration which includes insurance costs, managing and marketing SSP’s Coming of Age program, communications with families, starting new groups, bookkeeping, and running the organization.
- Curriculum and program development. A small amount of tuition dollars also pay for ongoing curriculum development for the Coming of Age Program.
- Supplemental tuition assistance. One of the core responsibilities of the SSP Board is to raise funds to provide tuition assistance for families with demonstrated financial needs. If we experience a shortfall in fundraising, we may use tuition revenue to help support tuition assistance. Historically, 10-20% of tuition costs have been covered by tuition assistance.
- Staffing. We currently have one paid staff member for the organization. It is our vision to increase our ability for paid program coordinators, allowing the Board to re-focus on fundraising activities and provide a higher level of tuition assistance to families.
6. What payment plans are available?
Invoices will be 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. Alternative payment plans are available for families in need.
The Stepping Stones program requires a minimum two to three-year commitment from both mentor/leaders and families. This includes a corresponding two to three-year financial commitment from families. Without such a commitment, the ability to have a financially sustainable program is compromised. If a family leaves prior to completion of the program and a group falls below 5 participants, it is no longer financially sustainable and the group may end. This has a major impact on the remaining participants and families in the group who are committed to the full 2-3 year program and the development of their child over this time frame.
7. Is a reduction in tuition available?
Stepping Stones does set aside an amount of its budget for tuition reductions that are available to families who demonstrate financial need. If you would like to discuss tuition assistance, please contact [email protected] and request an Application for Tuition Assistance.
8. What factors can influence my child being offered a reduction in tuition?
A reduction in tuition is influenced by the following:
- The amount of funds available for tuition reduction
- The level of need among all families applying for a tuition reduction in a given year
- Required information and forms not submitted in a timely manner
9. Are discounts available for supplemental costs (i.e. camping trips and daylong events)?
Our budget does not allow us to reduce the supplemental costs of the program for those who receive Tuition Assistance, as the budget is allocated fully to monthly assistance.
10. Who do I contact with questions about my bill?
If you have any questions regarding your bill please contact [email protected], or call us at 415-968-6347. It is preferable to ask questions within one week of receiving the invoice, before you are charged.
- Fill out an application for your son or daughter. An application indicates interest in the program and serves to hold a space should a group receive more than eight applications. If you think you will need Tuition Assistance, please indicate it on the application.
- If indicated on your application, we will send you an Application for Tuition Assistance.
- Once we receive all your documents we will schedule a phone call to discuss tuition with your family. This will take place before the Parent Leader meeting.
- Your family’s decision on commitment to the group follows the Parent Leader meeting.