Step Up works in communities that do not have parks, playgrounds and after-school programs. Young people lack access to productive spaces, enrichment activities and social development opportunities once the school day ends.
At our core, Step Up addresses this striking opportunity gap by removing socioeconomic barriers to opportunities. The Step Up center provides a safe, productive space young people access after-school and during school breaks. Our programs, resources and environment actively engage Achievers in experiential learning and social development programs that encourage productive decision-making and healthy behaviors.
We’re headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, but work on the ground in Molepolole, Botswana.
Botswana is a small, landlocked country in southern Africa about the size of Texas or France. With a population of two million people, the country has made considerable development progress since independence in 1966. The village of Molepolole where Step Up works is about 30miles (48km) northwest of the capital Gaborone. It has a population of 70,000 people and is the largest and fastest growing village in Botswana.
However, Molepolole, like many villages across Botswana, continues to face complex socioeconomic challenges. One in five people in Molepolole are affected by HIV/AIDS (Botswana has the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world), and the community also faces persistent unemployment, poverty and underdeveloped services infrastructure.
More than 80 percent of children in Botswana still do not participate in any form of early childhood education, leaving them socially, emotionally and academically unprepared to enter first grade. The public education system continues to emphasize rote memorization instead of promoting critical thinking skills and inquiry.
A disproportionate number of households and families continue to depend on government safety-net programs instead of taking action towards self-reliance. Children are generally surrounded by an environment of apathy and grow up seeing many young people around them sitting idle and engaging in unproductive behavior.
But with our Achievers from the village of Molepolole we see resilient and confident children determined to learn so they can build better futures for themselves. We are fortunate to work with children dedicated to overcoming their environment so they can achieve their full potential.