Greater Steps Scholars — formerly known as the Charlotte Housing Authority Scholarship Fund — was established in 1983 by the INLIVIAN Board of Commissioners and founded by Dr. John T. Crawford, a former INLIVIAN Youth Services Coordinator. Crawford had been approached by a young INLIVIAN resident who needed $300 to return to college for his senior year. He and a friend pooled their resources and helped the student with the funds — and in doing so, realized there were many other students who lived in public housing with the same limited financial resources.
The mission of Greater Steps has remained the same throughout its history — to provide every child living in subsidized housing an opportunity for and expectation of a college education. The program considers the entire picture of what a Scholar needs to succeed — one-on-one coaching, mentorship, educational workshops, and access to potential career opportunities in addition to financial assistance.
Greater Steps is operated as an endowment fund through the Foundation for the Carolinas, in a working partnership with INLIVIAN. The program is an independent non-profit organization that relies on private donations from individuals, businesses, churches, foundations, and other groups for the Scholars’ educational scholarships, and does not receive government funding.
Since its inception, Greater Steps has awarded nearly 940 scholarships totally $3.8 million. As of 2020, there are 280 Greater Steps Alumni — students who have successfully graduated from college or vocational programs.
If young people have a desire to achieve, they should have the opportunity to do so, regardless of their financial means. When there’s an opportunity for education, there are opportunities for freedom, hope, confidence, and transforming one’s life for the better.
For more information on Greater Steps, please visit www.greatersteps.org.