STEP: Financial Crisis Aid for Military Families

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Support the Enlisted Project (STEP) was formed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in San Diego In October 2012 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. Families coming to STEP risk losing basic necessities like their home, a vehicle, water, electricity, insurance, or they consistently run out of essentials such as 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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Esteban Villanueva