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Meet Our Fundholders: Support the Enlisted Project

Support the Enlisted Project

We sat down with Tony Teravainen, CEO and co-founder of Support the Enlisted Project (STEP), and had an insightful conversation about the work they do and how they support our community. 

STEP’s passion, dedication, and transformative impact uplifts the lives of military and veteran families. When you contribute to STEP, your support creates an impact that can be felt throughout San Diego County. 

What is STEP’s Mission?

Support the Enlisted Project (STEP) builds financial self-sufficiency among junior active duty enlisted members, recently discharged enlisted veterans, and their families facing financial crises through counseling, education, and emergency grants.

What is one thing your organization is excited about this year?

Support the Enlisted Project just launched the public phase of our first-ever Capacity Building Campaign! This campaign will help us build the strong foundation we need to ensure we have the resources available to continue serving our military and veteran families facing financial crisis today and tomorrow. Through this campaign, our team will expand by four full-time employees, our Emergency Financial Assistance Grants Funds will increase, and purchasing and renovating a 12,000+ Sq. Ft. Headquarters Building will be possible.

What do you wish the community knew about your organization?

STEP is here to serve the most financially vulnerable military and veteran families who are living paycheck to paycheck and are at risk of losing their critical basic needs. STEP’s client population includes active-duty service members from the lowest six pay grades (E1-E6) across all military branches, enlisted veterans transitioning to civilian life within 18 months of discharge, and their families. Of the families and individuals served through our Emergency Financial Assistance (EFA) Program, 100% are classified as Low-to-Moderate-income. These military families are often young and lack financial experience and skills. 

What is one thing you and your team excel at?

All of our staff are military-affiliated, and we work from a strengths-based perspective. Our team is able to quickly form connections and trusted relationships with the individuals and families who are seeking our support.  Through this strengths-based approach, we focus on how the service member or veteran and their family can move forward and build upon what they are good at, with the ultimate goal of getting on track to a life of financial stability.

How has funding from RSFF helped your organization?

The grant from the RSFF has helped STEP prevent the loss of basic needs such as housing, food, and transportation for more than 1,131 young military and veteran families. In addition, these families create a home where they can provide for their children and become financially stable, eliminating the stress and negative impacts financial crises can have on their families.

What is the best way to get involved for those excited about STEP’s mission and impact?

The best way for community members to get involved with Support the Enlisted Project (STEP) is to go to our website, where we have opportunities to volunteer, connect with us to come in for a tour, donate, or get involved by collecting items needed by our families such as food, hygiene items, clothing, and baby items. To learn more about STEP, visit https://www.teamstepusa.org/.

If you’re interested in supporting the STEP mission, donate directly to their fund and help build financial self-sufficiency among active duty enlisted members, veterans and their families.