Indian River Community Foundation awards grant to United Against Poverty

Jeffrey Pickering, CEO of Indian River Community Foundation, presents Barbara Lowry, Chair of UP’s Indian River Community Board (center) and Annabel Robertson, UP Indian River County Executive Director, with a $50.000 grant to support UP’s Success Training for Employment Program (STEP).


United Against Poverty (UP) of Indian River County recently received a $50,000 grant from Indian River Community Foundation through its “Established Program Grant” program. The grant specifically supports the Success Training for Employment Program (STEP).  

“This grant is especially important to our purpose, which is to empower and inspire people to become self sufficient,” explained UP Executive Director Annabel Robertson,. “With 86 percent job retention rates, STEP is consistent with the national average. This is remarkable because most of the people who enroll in STEP believe that they are unemployable. STEP changes their minds and transforms their lives.”

STEP is a unique three-phase workforce development program, which is designed for adults who have multiple barriers to employment. It is comprised of a 120-hours of classroom learning experience that focuses on “Emotional Intelligence for the Work Place,” job acquisition and workforce skills training.  

The STEP curriculum was developed by UP for people living in poverty to address both hard and soft workforce skill development. A STEP Job Developer assists program participants by matching a job candidate’s ambition and ability with suitable employment opportunities. STEP Job Coaches work with each employed STEP participant to develop a career plan and to provide mentoring until they are economically self sufficient, which is measured when household income reaches 201% federal poverty level ($48,601 for a family of four.)

There are currently 185 participants in Phase 3, or the mentoring phase, of STEP who are employed at over 80 local businesses. In 2016, Phase 3 STEP participants had a total annualized wage impact of $2.4 million in Indian River County. Based on current trends, it is expected that by year-end 230 participants will be in Phase 3, representing an economic impact of $5.6 million in annualized wages. 

In addition to private family foundations and donors, STEP is made possible with support from Indian River Community Foundation, Grand Harbor Community Outreach, John’s Island Community Service League, Impact 100 of Indian River County, Indian River County and the Head, Hearts and Hands Outreach Program of Indian River Club.

United Against Poverty is a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded in 2003 by Austin and Ginny Hunt. Its mission is to “To serve those in poverty by providing crisis care, case management, transformative education, food and household subsidy, employment training and placement, personal empowerment training and active referrals to other collaborative social service providers.” For more information visit or call 772-770-0740.

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