STEP builds financial self-sufficiency among junior active duty enlisted members and recently discharged enlisted Veterans and their families facing financial crisis through counseling, education and grants.
Relevant, reliable and responsive. STEP’s vision is to change the lives of military families and Veterans that we serve by helping them achieve financial self-sufficiency.
Do the Right Thing.
Honor Patriotism & Service to Country.
Deliver Results with Excellence.
STEP's 2020 Accomplishments
- Veteran Nonprofit of the Year award from the County of San Diego.
- The Veterans Allegiance Award from the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.
- Impact Award from North San Diego Business Chamber.
- Letter of Appreciation from the USCG San Diego Sector Commander and Captain of the Port.
- STEP CEO & Co-Founder, Tony Teravainen, was awarded the Salute to Service from the County of San Diego.
- STEP CEO & Co-Founder, Tony Teravainen, elected chairman of the San Diego County Military and Veterans Advisory Council.
In October 2012, Support the Enlisted Project (STEP) was formed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in San Diego to assist our community’s young military and Veteran families in financial crisis. Over the past eight years, the support of STEP’s mission has been nothing short of amazing.
To date, STEP has served more than 5,600 military and Veteran families through our main Emergency Financial Assistance (EFA) program. The families who come to STEP are at risk of losing a basic necessity - their home, a vehicle, water, electricity, insurance - or they consistently run out of essentials, like food and baby diapers, before their next paycheck. Our professional Social Workers counsel one-on-one with each client family, utilizing a holistic approach to personal finance. Every client family leaves STEP with a better understanding of their financial situation and a personalized plan to achieve their goals. When necessary, STEP provides a financial assistance grant to prevent the loss of a critical basic need.
More than 90% of the families who complete our EFA program improve their financial well-being. In just eight years, STEP has issued $2.1 million in financial assistance grants to stop the loss of basic needs. To date, we have prevented 510 in-process evictions.
In 2020, STEP proudly expanded to Washington state to continue to serve even more military and Veteran families.
STEP’s CEO and Co-Founder, Tony Teravainen assumed his position in February 2014 while serving as a Board Chairman. Tony oversees STEP’s positioning in the community, as well as the 11 staff members and hundreds of volunteers. Under his guidance, STEP has assisted tens of thousands of military and Veteran families through financial counseling, donated goods, and other support programs.
As the son of a career Air Force father, Tony knows firsthand the hardships military families endure. After a medical condition abruptly ended his own career as a US Navy submariner, he experienced the challenge of a rushed transition to civilian life. This is why Tony sees himself, his mother, his father, and his brother, each time a service member, fellow Veteran, and their family enters STEP.