In low-income communities, affordable housing options provide stability for families. But, because affordable housing is tied to income, individuals and families are not incentivized to advance into higher paying employment opportunities and rise out of poverty. Living in an environment of chronic stress and stigmatized by their socio-economic status, individuals and families in poverty don’t have access to the services and support they need to break the cycle.
Springboard To Opportunities (STO) works to empower vulnerable families in poverty through their individualized, community-based services. With a belief that all families are entitled to a future, regardless of their circumstances, STO engages residents who live in affordable housing to help them achieve their goals on a path to a better future. Programs are “radically resident-driven” because they are tailored to the needs of a community. Instead of being told how to improve their lives, residents exercise their voices and articulate their needs. STO listens to and honors residents, empowering them to author their own lives.
Springboard To Opportunities’ approach to community building is collaborative, hands-on, and relationally-based. Its three strategies focus on learning, community, and success. Education programs serve kids and parents to reinforce values, life skills, confidence, and academic success. Parents gain access to support and resources that help them navigate the challenges of parenting and the intricacies of the school system. At the same time, kids learn the importance of education.
Springboard To Opportunities’ community programs create a safety net for residents who need assistance. From seasonal parties and neighborhood activities to property ownership resources, community programs create a supportive network of neighbors while also educating families on the road to stability. Finally, the success strategy connects adults to customized support. Whether it’s social support programs, continuing education, or employment services, STO empowers adults to make goals and achieve them. All STO programs in a community are designed to meet needs expressed by families. With a holistic approach, STO programs are an agile blueprint that serve families through relationship.
Chief Executive Officer Aisha Nyandoro brings over a decade of experience developing, implementing, and evaluating programs that improve people’s lives to her role at Springboard To Opportunities. With STO since its inception, she credits the dedication, heart, and hard work of many to bring STO to what it is today. STO began simply as an idea: how to address the myriad of challenges encountered by low-income families that live in federally subsidized affordable housing communities. Designed to be a springboard out of poverty, generous support from a philanthropic family seeded the organization’s initial work. In less than four years, STO has developed a nationally-recognized model working across nine communities in Mississippi, Maryland, and Washington, DC. Realizing the needs of low-income families are far-reaching, STO utilizes a holistic, comprehensive approach; however, at the heart of the organization’s work are the people they serve.
Springboard To Opportunities is a 2017 S+ Catalyst. Through participation in the Catalyst Program, Springboard To Opportunities receives training from industry experts in organizational development, branding, measurement and growth, and strategic relationships to amplify their impact and strategically expand their reach.