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

Our 10th Annual Cena & Serenata


Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr


One of the most rewarding experiences as a member of society is the opportunity to make a positive impact on those within our community. Seeing the fruit of how one’s time and donations play an instrumental role in the success of our children as they join our educational system is priceless. Furthermore, A Stepping Stone Foundation takes it a step further than all other organizations within our community. In conjunction with the kids going through the program, the parents are supported and provided with the awareness of how they too have to lead by example and achieve their GED. Nelson Mandela states how “Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world” and our teachers, children, parents and board members advocate this consistently proving this model to be extremely successful since 1989.


In 2016, I was honored to attend and volunteer for the 9th Annual Cena & Serenata Event that was held on April 2nd at the Heard Museum. The board members and the planning committee organized this annual gala with the sole purpose of raising awareness around A Stepping Stone’s mission and values. There was a wide range of Sponsors, Donors, and Volunteers at the event celebrating culture, family and unity. In addition to having Dr. David Garcia as our MC, the evening was filled with performances from Al Jauregui Mariachi, Glendale Ballet Fóklorico, Str8up Band, and Gustavo Angeles. There was also a great Silent Auction and Wine Pull from donors to help raise further funds for our Children and Families. The Annual Event helped raise $45,000 of funding for our Children’s Programs!


How impactful are these donations for our students and parents? See below:


  • $8 equals one hour of quality preschool or Adult/Parenting Education per Individual
  • $30 provides a typical day for one of our families (4 hours)
  • $100 provides a whole week of preschool education to a child in need.
  • $250 provides a whole family with preschool for their child, younger sibling childcare & Adult Parenting Education for two weeks!


Through the event Cena & Serenata, A Stepping Stone foundation has been able to unify a community of advocates for high quality education, equality for all, and giving back to those who are in need. We invite you to either donate or attend the event by purchasing a ticket for our 10th annual event being held on March 25th! As part of our dream, we aspire to all be a community of one – Join us in our efforts today!


Board Member,

Jessica M. Sanchez

Arizona Charitable Tax Credit

We’d like to make you aware of changes to the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit which could help you further reduce your state tax liability and help our children and families at the same time.  This tax credit called Arizona’s Tax Credit for Qualifying Charitable Organizations and is still available.  This is an ADDITIONAL tax credit –one you can take even though you may have already donated to the Public and/or Private school tax credits.


In fact, the maximum amounts have DOUBLED and the deadline was extended!


The maximum credit is now $400 for single taxpayers and $800 for married taxpayers filing jointly.  As of the writing of this letter, this donation can also be listed as a Federal Tax deduction if you itemize on your IRS return.  $800 provides 20 children with a full day of preschool.


Please help us reach our goal of $60,000 by December 31, 2016 by donating now to a Stepping Stone Foundation, which is a Qualifying Charitable Organization (you will find us on the official State of Arizona list in the ‘S’s).  If you have already donated, THANK YOU, and please forward this to a friend who may be able to take advantage of this opportunity to save on your Arizona state taxes and help local families, too. AND THANKS TO AN ANONYMOUS DONOR, YOUR GIFT WILL BE DOUBLED UP TO THE FIRST $10,000!!


You can donate on our website at: or make checks payable to A Stepping Stone Foundation and mail (must be postmarked by March 31, 2017) to:


A Stepping Stone Foundation

PO Box 87149

Phoenix, AZ 85080-7149


This tax credit allows for donations made to qualifying organizations to be refunded to the taxpayer not as a deduction but as a dollar-for-dollar tax credit! For any and all tax advice, please consult with your tax professional.


More details can be found on the Arizona Department of Revenue website at:

Why A Stepping Stone?

Please find below a link to yet another study validating what a great investment high quality early childhood is—especially when the parents are involved!  The programs studied/talked about in the links below begin their first contact with families when the child is still an infant and stress the quality of child-caregiver interaction.  I’ll be looking at the cost effectiveness of this program related to our current two-year LEAF program we run at Alhambra and Isaac School Districts in Phoenix.


New Early Ed Article

From this article:

Asked to define quality child care, Heckman said the key was not whether caregivers held college degrees but whether they were trained to engage with the children and their parents. “Parents are the key,” he said. “These programs teach parents about giving individual attention to the child; they teach the parent the value of one-to-one interaction.”


Find the Source Paper at:


If you haven’t made your tax credit donation yet this year, here is a link:

Don’t forget to tell your friends! The credit has DOUBLED AND we have a match donor up to $10,000!


Hello my name is Neida Sandoval. I am one of six of my family members that has attended A Stepping Stone preschool. This program has helped me and my family in many ways. It has helped me further my education and through the years I have met several people that to this day are close friends.

This program helped me grow as a person and a student. Mrs. Belinda, is the best role model I got as child, she taught me life morals and how to be a star student. Other than learning, I can also remember the fun activities like water day, and days where my mom would spend the whole day with me. Up until this day, I still have some Polaroid pictures of some of the holiday festivals and classroom activities we use to do. Out of the many pictures there is one with my siblings and me with Cindy and her husband. In the picture my siblings and I were all small, compared to how grown we look today.  The pictures is a great example that shows that over the years Cindy, has been such a great support in my life and in my families.

I am currently attending Arizona State University, where my major is Sociology. I will forever be grateful for this internship opportunity and for the program. One day I hope to give back to my community in the way that A Stepping Stone did.

New Intern!

Kim at her desk

My name is Kimberly Fernandez and I am a former Stepping Stone preschooler. Although it was a long time ago, I remember being in Mrs. Cindy’s class (Cindy Amos). I really enjoyed all the fun activities we use to do such as painting, drawing, singing, playing, dancing and even sleeping! Those were fun memories in my life that I will never forget.

Over the years Stepping Stone has helped me in so many different ways. Being the first sibling in my family to attend college could be a little overwhelming. There were times where I felt lost because I didn’t know what I was doing. Stepping Stone helped me step into college with the right foot by providing me with information I didn’t know, like setting up my FAFSA.  The foundation also helped me by awarding me the Billie Gannaway Scholarship. It was such a great help for me and I’m really thankful for that.

With that being said, I can proudly say that I am currently attending Glendale Community College and after this year, I plan to attend Arizona State University in Tempe where I can finish my B.S. in Business Finance.

Back to School-What’s new?

Westwood site

I am wonderful!

I would like to welcome all our new and returning families to A Stepping Stone Foundation’s 26th program year for preschool with family literacy! This year we once again have preschool classrooms with all the family literacy obligations that go with it (home visiting, adult education, parenting classes and child-and-parent-time-together) in collaboration with Alhambra Elementary District (35 preschool children and their families) and Isaac Elementary District (20 preschoolers and their families) as well as ties with our site in Miami-Globe (coming to an end this school year).


Of course our Billie Gannaway Memorial Scholarship program continues, kicking off the season with our annual Stepping Into College event held this year at Phoenix College on October 1st.


Finally, I have hired two new interns: Kimberly Fernandez (preschool class 1999-2001, BGMS 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and Neida Sandoval (preschool class 2001-2002, BGMS 2015, 2016).


Thanks to all our wonderful families, scholars and supporters for helping make Arizona a great place to learn and grow.


Cynthia Gattorna, Executive Director

Long-lasting effects of quality early education…

An interesting retrospective study done by Chris Herbst in 2013, was recently reported by (via NIEER), about the nearly Universal Childcare instituted in the US from 1940-1946 (known as the Lanham Act) to allow more women to enter the workforce during WWII.  The study examined, among other things, long-term, long-lasting effects of early childhood care for the young individuals in the care of those programs over the next 30-40 years through census analysis.  Herbst writes: “previous work finds that economically disadvantaged children—as defined by family income or parental cognitive ability—generally capture moderate to large benefits from exposure to early childhood programs, while outcomes for their more advantaged peers are either not affected or even adversely affected” and concludes, “…the Lanham Act had sizeable positive effects on a large number of long-run outcomes related to educational attainment, family formation, and labor market participation. Furthermore, the effects persisted throughout adulthood.” He goes on to note that this effect is most noticeably positive for economically disadvantaged children.  Once again, They talk about it— we do it!

Best Wishes!

Pancakes at Mimi's

Celebrating two-year SSF Internship

Congratulations to intern, Kevin, who finished his two-year internship with A Stepping Stone Foundation in June.  It was a pleasure to work with you, Kevin! We wish you best wishes on the new job hunt and as you continue your college education!


They talk about it; we DO it!

There are many hot topics regarding early childhood.  Most recently, I read:

“A high quality early education experience depends on a high-quality workforce of early educators. How we value and support those early educators as a nation – through access to higher education, professional development and commensurate compensation – has direct implications on their ability to do their difficult and important job well.”  DHHS, Dept Ed, United States publication June 2016,High-Quality Early Learning Settings Depend on a High-Quality Workforce.

You will be happy to know that we pay our lead teachers the same salary as a regular certificated teacher K-12.  This is well above the Arizona State average for preschool teaching staff. See, and that our teachers regularly participate in continuing education and professional development. Our program is only as good as our teachers!


July 5 Whole Heart Update-$35,750.00

I hope everyone had a fabulous 4th of July! Once again we cannot thank you all enough for your support of our children and families–most recently demonstrated by a phenomenal $35,750.00 response to our Whole Heart Appeal!

Happy Independence Day