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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.

Build Relationship.

Respect Others.

Deliver Results with Excellence.  

STEP's 2022 Accomplishments

- Nonprofit of the Year San Diego Business Journal Citizenship Awards 2022.

- Hire Vets Medallion 

- Outstanding Community Service awarded by Senator Brian Jones 

- STEP CEO & Co-Founder, Tony Teravainen, was awarded SD 500 Most Influential .

Family Moments
Image by Annie Spratt

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 6,300 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. 

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