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Providing stepping stones to create success through education for children and families who have limited opportunities.

THANK YOU to ALL our Wonderful Donors and Supporters!

Please find below a complete list of all donors from July 1, 2017 through October 1, 2018. Together we transform lives through quality two-generation education! Donors in bold print have donated $1,000 or more. Some donors have asked to not be recognized publicly and so are not listed below.

A New Leaf
Abrahamson, Heidi
Adams, Judith
Adornetto, Charles
Ahl, Carl and Mary
Alexi’s Grill
Alliance Bank Of Arizona
Ambelang, Pete and Judy
American Express Charitable Fund
Anderson, Dorothy
Anderson, Marcia and Brian
Argiropoulos, Paula
Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona Pool Service
ARTEP Solutions LLC
Astorga, Tony and Milena
Avante Optics
Baker-Adan, Ineke and Rob
Baker, Jeanne & Family
Baltmaltmanis, Daniel
Barrios, Frank
Barry, Jack and Janet
Barry, Joanne and Colin
Barry, Ken and Rae
Basley, Thelma M.
BCBS of Arizona
Beatty, Frances
Beaupre, Chris
Beberniss, Lois
Bell, Christine
Harvard Business School Club
Biebrich, Conchita
Blair-Burton, Wendy and Ann

Bobo, Jack

Bonstelle, Chuck
Booker, Robert
Boorn, Wendy
Bornemann, David R.
Bouma, John
Boyles, Chris and Karen
Brengi, Judy
Brengi & Jordan, P.C.
Brodie, Steven
Brown, Katia A.
Bruce, Beth
Buchanan, James and Margaret
Burget, Timothy and Diane
Burns, Alice
Calabrese, Bart and Karen
June Card Family Revocable Trust
Carlos Rascon Family
Carstens Family Fund
Cazares, Carlos and Yadira
Cazarez, Orlando
Celebrity Fight Night
Charef, Kamal
Children’s Museum Of Phoenix
Childs, Dale and Marilyn
Christensen, Steve, Beth, and Casey
Clark, Kemberly
Coffelt, Lynda and Richard
Conway, Margaret J
Cook, MaryAnne
Cook, Karen
Cooper, Larry and Martha
Coor, Elva and Lattie
Cox Communications
Crane, Mary
Cullison, Paula and Tim
Curry, Elizabeth
Curry, Michael
Davis, Patricia and Family
Davis, Terry
Davis, Betsy
Davis, Sydney
Dennison, Gayle and Conner
Desert Botanical Garden
Diaz, Geronimo
Diaz, Jerry
Dodd, Robert
Doering, Alexis (Helen)
Dollar General
Downing, Shirley
Dream Dinners
Dukes, Marian
Dunn, Lenay
Education, Leadership and Analytics Foundation
Eicher, Ann and Ken
Elk, Barbara and Robert
Ellis, Shelley
Elsner, Linda
Englehorn, Joy and Con
Escontrias Jr., Dr. Gabriel
Estrada, Armando
Fabulous Foods
Family Arts Needlework Shop, Inc.
Farmer, Patricia Charles
Farrar, Marc
Favilla, Ed and Rosalie
Fiesta Bowl Charities
Fimbres, Petra
Fox Restaurant Concepts
French, Laura Franco
Froese, Diane
Fry’s Food Stores (Kroger)
Gary and Diane Tooker Family Foundation
Gattorna, Michael and Cynthia
Geer, Barbara and James
Gibson, Mary Sue
Gibson, Kenneth
Goddard Family Fund
Gonzalez, Adalberto C
Goodrum, Vicky and Richard
The Arizona Museum Of Natural History
Grapentine, Bryan and Pearl
Grossman, Dixie and Michael
Guapo Food Inc.
Gustin, Jay
Haggard, Jerry and Mitzi
Halberg, Joanne
Hansen, Bradley and Barbara
Harper-Marinick, Dr. Maria
Harshberger, Dave and Paulette
Harwood, Donna
Helios Education Foundation
Helseth, Lisa
Henderson, Miriam
Henderson, Karen S.
Hensley, Michael and Sharon
Hensley, Brenda
Hensley Beverage Company Phoenix
Hernandez, Maritza
Hilde, Jo Anne and Ron
Hildman, Ivory Yang
Hills, Gwen
Hoard, Eileen and Cindy
Hockett, Glenn and Connie
Hoffman, Julie
Homyock, Shari L
Hood, Dennis and Barbara
Howe and Howe-Lexis Sales Corp
Hunn, Daniel
Hunt, Erin
Hur, Hyungju
Hutchins-Dresbach, Art and Cathy
IDA- City Of Phoenix Arizona
Iles, Diane and Alan
Ireland, Ron and Nancy
Jain, Robin
Jannusch, Larry and Peggy
John F. Long Foundation
Johnson, Cody and Beth
Jones,William and Jo (Bill)
Jones, Elaine
Kane, Patrick
Keagle, Don and Carolyn
King, Michael
Kitchell Employee Foundation
Knocke, Kay
Kolding, Jorden J.
Kory, Renee
Kreider, Robin (Roberta)
Kroon, Bonnie
Kruglick, Diana W.
Kucera, Jack and Vianne
Kurtz, Patricia
Kurtz, Kristan
Kurtz, Paula
Kurt-Koontz, Kristina and Ginger
LaChapelle, Beverly
Land, Luke
Lee, Susan and Bob
Leopold, Donna C
Lewkowitz, Barbara
Libraries Limited
Loaiza, Guillermo


Lopez, Nereyda
Lopez, Vera
Lopez, Nichol
Lou Malnati’s
Lux On Central
Lyding, Mary Lou
Lynch, Barbara
Maldonado, Barbara
MacCarthy, Kristen
Mais, Anne and Joseph
Maja Art, INC.
Maldonado, Adolfo and Rajni Nair
Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation
Marks, Allan and Irene
Martinez, Manuel
Masonic Charities Of Arizona
Masood, Faraz
Mathisen, Lois-Lynne
Mayer, Jack and Ann
McCreary, Shirley
McHenry, Bill
McLaughlin, Jan and Mac
McLaughlin, Sharon
McMullen, Bob and Carol
Meadows, Alyce-Ann
Merrill, Steve and Linda
Merritt, Doug and Linda
Messinger, Paul
Messinger, Dorothy
Meza, Robert
Micheaels, Mary Lou and John
Mihaylo, Steve & Lois Mihaylo Foundation
Mina Group
Miner, June
Miyasaka, Jeanne
Molberg, Naomi and Michelle
Morales, Monica Briones
Moreno, Mario
Moreno, Herman
Moreno, Evelyn J.
Morgan, John, Nancy and Carole
Morgan, Richard and Carolyn
Murdough, John M
National Processing Solutions
Nelson, Nancy
Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust
Nordstrom, Carolyn and John
Nowlin, Diane
Ochoa, Christina
Oden, Robin
Ogea, Melissa
Olivas, Alberto
Ortega, Thomas
Osife, Michelle
Osolin, John Dean
Otto, Ernest
Pahlke, Jean
Pape, Linda
Parrott, Sally
Payne, Lisa
Payne, Adrian
Pearson, Dave and Willie
Peck, Carol
Pena, Teresa
Peterson, Mary
Peterson, Karen
Peterson, Karen and Bill
Phoenix Raceway Charities
Phoenix Suns Charities
Phoenix Theatre
PONA Trust
Pooler, Gwen and  Dennis
Pope, Lynn and Karen
Portley, Maurice and Beverly
Prescott, David and Karen
Puntenney, Trysta
Pynn, Jacqueline and Tom
Rader, Logan
Rader, Bill and Judy
Ragan, Lorraine (Rayne)
Ramierz Advisors Inter-National
Rampley, Greg and Marilyn
Reay, Sharon and Dewey
Redfield, Michael S.
Rehse, Pat and Louise
Renshaw, Juliana
Restrepo,Maria (Laida)
Roberts, Dolores
Roberts, Dave and Linda
Rosales, Cecilia
Rose Perica Mofford Trust
Ross-Stempel, Jane
Royal Palms Resort & Spa
Ruiz, Rosa
Runyon, Tom and Jill
Saavedra, Freddy
Saldana, Lizbeth
Salzman, Esther
Sanchez, Jessica S.
Sanchez, Harry and Sylvia
Sanchez, Jessica M.
Sass, Nadine
Sassaman, Randy and Claudia
Scholl, Jozefa
Schwiebert, Judy
Scott, Robert
Season For Sharing
Shaffer, David and Helen
Shapiro, Jeff and Sandra
Shaw, Miriam
Sheinbein, Tina
Sherk, Kenneth
Shetty, Gowri
Shipley, Loreen and Bert
Shipley, Maryan
Shipley, Loreen
Sievers, Maurice
Simmons, Gabriella
Singh, Bob and Mary Dee
Slotta, Louise
Smith, Bill and Ann
Smith, Nancy
Smith, Jeremy
Smith, Jackie
Smith, Richard and Candace
Snitz, Michael
Somers, Maureen
Soule, Beverly
Southwest General Insurance Agency
Southwest Integrated Medicine
Spangler, Kim
Staley, Michael
Starkey, Paula
Steensland, Marsha
Stern, Richard
Stertzer, Annette
Stoll, James and Ellen
Stoneroad Family Trust
Sutton, Anne
Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar
Tachias, Tio and Micha
Talley, Margie
Taylor, Phillip and Mary
Taylor Bleiker, Karen
Thunderbirds Charities
Tollakson/Hannah, Kendra and John
Tooker, Diane and Gary
Tormala, Wayne and Sue
Torres, ErLinda
Torrez, Gregory and Josephine
Total Wine & More
Trenberth, Mary F
Tucker, Mickey and Herb
Urióstegui, Antonio and Amelia
Valenzuela, Daniel T
Valley Toyota Dealers Association
Van Brunt, Ed and Nancy
Van Roekel, Marie F.
Voelker, Ben and Jodi
Wadell, Susan and Jerry
Warren, Tina
Wein, Karl
Weiner, Gerald H.
Wells Fargo Foundation
Wentworth, Robert and Kathleen
Whiteman, John and Betty
Whitmore, Victoria
Wickes, Jamas
Wiig, Janet
William Smith and Ann Smith Trust
Wong, Keith
Wood, Carol Lynn
Yale, Charles and Suzanne
Ye Olde Pipe & Tobacco Shoppe
Yoder, Sylvia
Younique Impressions
Zinn, Heidi and Kenneth

In Memoriam

September 6, 2018


A Stepping Stone Foundation sends their deepest condolences to the family of the Reverend Bill Smith who passed away on Monday, September 3, 2018. The Reverend’s legacy will always live on within our organization and the community at large. Often asking us to call him, “Just Bill”, he was a visionary and activist who inspired many of us to give of ourselves through our talents, time, monetary contributions, and most of all through living out our God-inspired and consciously chosen vocations.


A Stepping Stone Foundation would not have been possible if not for the leadership of the Reverend Smith and the congregation of Shadow Rock United Church of Church.  They believed that early education was crucial for all children and saw the woeful number of children not being served who would most benefit, so they decided to make a difference through their actions. Their difference and actions have allowed A Stepping Stone Foundation to now serve more than 1,800 families (about 5,000 people) in various school districts in Maricopa and Gila counties.


Below is a photograph of Bill with some of our children at a program visit with Al Molina.

Earlier this year, we had the honor of Reverend Smith delivering the invocation at our 11th Annual Cena y Serenata and we were so very grateful he and his family could join us.


Memorial Services will be held at Shadow Rock UCC located at 12861 N. 8th Avenue – Phoenix, AZ 85029 and begin at 10:30 am on Saturday, September 15, 2018. Parking is limited, so kindly plan accordingly-car pooling is encouraged. In lieu of flowers the family has asked for donations to be made to A Stepping Stone Foundation.


Our sincerest condolences,

Gabriel Escontrías, Jr., Ed.D.                                                    Cynthia Gattorna

Governing Board President                                                        Executive Director

A Stepping Stone Foundation                                                     A Stepping Stone Foundation

Another Affirmation of Family Literacy

A Stepping Stone Foundation Board Member, Gabriel Escontrías, Jr., sent me an article today about work similar to that of our LEAF (Literacy Elevates Arizona Families) Program in Phoenix.  It touts the rich return on investment that programs like LEAF have to society in concrete terms.


The article was published online at, (originally published at JAMA Pediatrics) and described the long-term benefits of quality early education programs with parental involvement.  In this case, the program studied was  Child-Parent Centers (CPC).


It showed “kids reached a higher level of education by age 35 than did ones enrolled in other preschool programs: CPC participants completed more years of schooling and were more likely to earn a postsecondary degree.”


The Scientific American article goes on to quote a former study done by Arthur Reynolds, a professor at the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, in which he and his colleagues “found a “return on investment to society” of $10.83 per dollar for children who participated through preschool and $8.24 for those who participated through third grade. These numbers were calculated from higher earnings and tax revenue, and figured in reduced spending on the criminal justice system, child welfare and special education.”


This is exactly what we have been experiencing with our Stepping Stone Foundation-LEAF families with whom we have had contact over the twenty plus years required to see these kinds of results.


They talk about it, we DO it!

Lifelong proponents of education to be honored at the 11th Annual Cena y Serenta



Two of Arizona’s most influential advocates for quality and equitable education have been selected as the 2018 Distinguished Educational Leadership Community Impact awardees by A Stepping Stone Foundation for their decades of servitude and leadership to advancing education for all children and their families. Dr. Lattie F. Coor and Mrs. Elva Coor of the Center for the Future of Arizona will be honored at the 11th Annual Cena y Serenata presented by Valley Toyota Dealers on Friday, April 13th at Warehouse 215 in downtown Phoenix beginning at 6:30 in the evening.


The awardees were selected by the Cena y Serenata Committee for demonstrating: a long-term commitment to educational success, their active involvement in the community, making a significant impact to Arizona through their efforts and accomplishments, embracing the importance of providing stepping stones to create success through education for children and families who have limited opportunities, and for having demonstrated their passion for two-generational education approaches. A Stepping Stone Foundation Executive Director, Cynthia Gattorna remarked, “Dr. and Mrs. Coor are treasures to our community. They exemplify life-long actions to make Arizona a better place to learn and grow for all students, no matter what their background.”


Nominated by Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, Chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges, she has witnessed their many contributions to Arizona and highlighted two recent contributions; Beat the Odds and SpeakOut AZ.


Beat the Odds is aimed at raising student achievement in schools with mostly low-income, predominantly Latino students, by training principals in how to improve leadership skills, which research shows is among the most effective ways for under-performing schools to improve student achievement.


SpeakOut AZ is designed to increase civic participation throughout Arizona and include civics curriculum in schools. Their strategies include, but are not limited to targeting early literacy and Pathways to Prosperity.


Dr. Coor and Mrs. Coor are architects of multi-faceted educational approaches to increase student and community success at all levels of our education systems. “Like A Stepping Stone Foundation, Dr. Coor and Mrs. Coor’s passions create milestones for students, families, and the community at large to be stronger together,” said Chancellor Harper-Marinick.


The benefit dinner co-chaired by Mrs. Jeanne Baker and Dr. Gabriel Escontrías, Jr. will benefit A Stepping Stone Foundation’s flagship program LEAF (Literacy Elevates Arizona Families). The program will be emceed by Ms. Arlety González and Mr. Octavio Pulido of Telemundo Arizona. Entertainment will feature Guitarist Gustavo Angeles and Rhythm Edition.


For more information about A Stepping Stone Foundation and the 11th Annual Cena y Serenata, go to or call 602-843-8281.

Please join us for our 11th Annual Cena y Serenta

Tickets are on sale now for $150 each and may be purchased online.  Cena-Flyer-2018

Recent Harvard Research

Mom working with preschoolers in 2013.

Dear Readers, please find and follow the link below regarding new research which affirms intuitive and previously proven best practices for early education.  It is certainly how A Stepping Stone has been practicing for the past 27 years! Enjoy! Cindy

Click Here for Recent Harvard Research Article.


Cena y Serenata 2018

I am very pleased to announce A Stepping Stone Foundation’s 11th Annual Cena y Serenata gala to benefit our children and families, which will be held FRIDAY, April 13th, 2018 at Warehouse 215 of the Bentley Projects just south of Downtown Phoenix on 215 E. Grant Street.  This wonderfully morphed warehouse is currently a unique event venue with an adjacent art gallery and we are delighted to be there for this year’s Cena.


This year’s event will feature local live band, Rhythm Edition, the amazing serenade music of guitarista Gustavo Angeles, a new awardee and as a special treat, one of our former preschoolers now in college will speak to our guests.


Stay tuned for more details and enjoy the picture from last year below!

Below from Left to Right:

Last year’s MC Dr. David Garcia; ED Cynthia Gattorna; MCCC Chancellor Maria Harper-Marinick; 2017 Event Chair, Jennifer Sanchez and 2018 Event Chair Dr. Gabriel Escontrias, Jr.

One Poignant Stepping Stone PART II

When our mom began our LEAF (Literacy Elevates Arizona Families) program this fall with her preschool child, we soon found out the she had been diagnosed with cancer.  She was taking chemotherapy treatments and the situation was and remains quite serious.  A few short weeks ago, the mom approached one of our staff and asked if they would take her baby with Down’s Syndrome and raise her if she passed away.


This situation was overwhelming to everyone touched by it.


Working with many organizational friends, the name of a local lawyer was given to us and the mom now has an appointment for a free consult regarding her immigration status and a quick review to see if she can be helped both with child custody issues surrounding her many children, and her own health issues.


We share this story because, although extreme, it is not particularly unusual among the families we serve.  A Stepping Stone not only provides a literacy intervention for families caught in inter-generational poverty, but  provides a stable environment that grows “social capital”.  Our program helps families make important connections in their neighborhoods. These connections include other families, health care, social services, access to continuing education and job training and in some cases like the mom in this story, legal assistance.

One Poignant Stepping Stone Story-PART I

Imagine being pregnant with your sixth child and learning that your husband has a very serious illness.  He is admitted to the hospital.  What will you do if he passes away? He is the sole bread-earner for the family and you do not have proper documentation to stay in the country, even though all your children do and you’ve lived here for more than two decades.


Then he passes away.


This is exactly what happened to one of the mothers enrolled in our program last year. Her husband passed away after being admitted to a local hospital.  The other families in our program and our staff surrounded her with love and care as she gave birth to her sixth child, who was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.


Watch for the what happens next in tomorrow’s blog.



All of our Stepping Stone moms have begun online classes and work at their own pace.  Each Friday, they meet together in the adult education room just one building away from where their children attend Stepping Stone’s LEAF preschool.  Currently, Neida, one of the Stepping Stone office interns meets with them there to help them with any technical issues and provide content support as they work through their assignments.


We originally had four mothers participate, but one has moved to Mexico. Sadly, it was the one whose story I shared in my blog post. Interestingly she is a US citizen, but her husband is not, so she has rejoined him in the Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) area. The remaining moms’ ages range from 24-48.


Up Close and Personal

The mom who is 48 said all her older children are enrolled in college, but she had never finished her own education.  All her extended family that live here (all her children, her husband and brothers and sisters) have their permanent residence status or are US Citizens, but she has not. Her children used to ask her when she was going back to get her GED–one step in applying for permanent residency.  Now that she’s doing it, they are so proud of her!