about us


Offering underprivileged children experiences that will inspire them to improve their futures.


To encourage a sense of wholeness, connection to nature, and self-confidence that enables all children to focus and achieve their goals.

Core Values:

Supporting self-esteem
Teaching skills and values
Empowering positive expression
Promoting environmental stewardship
Sustaining hope, seeking opportunity

Steps for Kids’ (STEPS) goal is to better prepare high-risk youth for their futures—enhancing their skills, increasing their environmental awareness and promoting college education.

STEPS operates out of the Pinelake Village Cooperative, a low-income community situated in the Huron River Watershed, Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan. On the Cooperative property is Montrio Pond, a natural spring-fed vernal pond that is home to many species of plants and animals.

In 2007, STEPS for Kids was formed by two concerned mothers from the Pinelake Co-op as an after school program to keep high-risk youth out of the streets and out of trouble.

A year later the area’s local school took over the after school program and STEPS began to grow into a more environmentally focused social outreach program.  During this time at Pinelake, an environmental issue arose with the community’s pond.

Montrio Pond was flooding and backing up into the neighborhood; it’s place in the watershed had been disrupted by the surrounding construction.  The city’s water engineer strongly recommended that in addition to updating the out take mechanism, planting the banks with native plants would help improve water quality.

In response STEPS began planting native species plants along the banks of Montrio Pond to filter and purify the neighborhood runoff and conduct it into the soil rather than into the water.  The improvements to the Pond’s ecosystem have been growing each year, and STEPS now makes native plantings its main summer activity.

STEPS provides cultural and educational programming in the winter months.  Recent activities include instrument demo with a family musician, visits from a naturalist from the University of Toledo, fun math games, and child-centered science programs.  Visit our online gallery to see photos of some of our favorite events and activities.

STEPS’ nonprofit memberships and associations: Community Corps, Guidestar, Idealist, Network for Good, TechSoup, Volunteer Washtenaw, Washtenaw Association of Volunteer Coordinators.

STEPS for Kids is grateful to have received the following grants: the Wild Ones Seeds for Education Grant, the Women’s Farm and Garden Association (twice), the Wildflower Association of Michigan, the Ann Arbor Native Plant Nursery, and the Jazz for Peace Foundation’s Empowerment Tree Grant.  See additionally our long list of volunteer assistants and agencies listed on the Volunteers page.

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fun quote of the day

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
Walt Disney