Step Up

Ernie Guerrero, Program Director

7633 N. Wabash Ave
Portland, OR 97217 google maps
Phone: (503) 488-5188
Staff Directory

Step Up helps 9th graders make a smooth transition to and through their high school career. Every year, Step Up keeps 300 amazing kids in school and thriving academically at three Portland Public high schools: Roosevelt, Madison, and Franklin.


Our students are personally supported by a Step Up Advocate all year through comprehensive tutoring, strength-based advocacy, emotional support, character building workshops, and family engagement activities. And it works: 91% of all Step Up students are on track to graduate (2015-16).

Program Components

Pre-Freshman year leadership camp

In a one-week summer leadership academy, Step Up Advocates challenge youth to identify their aspirations and commit to working together towards those goals. Leadership and team-building activities reinforce students’ understanding of their capacity to achieve their dreams through education and hard work, all with the support of an advocate.

These self-defined goals form the basis for their participation in Step Up throughout the following year.  By the end of camp, students and their Advocates have formed close relationships based on mutual commitment to success in high school.

Freshman & Sophomore year, extended academic day tutoring

Step Up Advocates partner with the school to offer after-school tutoring, continued leadership development, and close social/emotional support in small “Advocate groups” of 10-15 Step Up youth.

    • Daily individualized tutoring and homework assistance forms the core of after school activities. A carefully designed system of information sharing and accountability enables Advocates to track student assignments and course performance.
      Classroom teachers and Step Up Advocates become close allies in supporting student success.
      Advocates lead youth in developing leadership and student success skills through group activities and individual counseling which focus on personal responsibility, conflict resolution, healthy relationships, organization and study skills.
      Advocates have significant phone and e-mail contact with their students outside of the after-school sessions, to provide emotional support for challenges that interfere with school success.
  • Parent involvement activities

    Throughout all components of the program, Step Up Advocates engage closely with parents to share student successes, strategize around challenges, and provide assistance in supporting their child’s success in school.

    Post-Freshman year summer school

    Following the academic school year, at each school site, Step Up conducts a 1 or 2-week intensive summer school to help students recover any unearned core class credit from the previous school year. Working in conjunction with the high schools’ teachers, this method results in a high rate of success for Step Up students.

    Our partners

    Thank you to our dedicated partners:

    Portland Public Schools
    Comcast Foundation
    Portland Children’s Levy
    Oregon Department of Education
    Portland Schools Foundation
    PGE Foundation
    Fordham Street Foundation
    Trail Blazers
    The Collins Foundation
    Piper Jaffray Foundation
    NW Natural

    Other community partners include Caldera, the University of Portland, Lewis & Clark, Marylhurst University, Portland Pearl Rotary, ECONW, Education Northwest, and Multnomah County SUN schools. In 2007, the Pew Partnership for Civic Change awarded Step Up the 2007 Civic Change Award.

    Read some of our news to see how our model of advoacy, equity and rigorous academics works.

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