To improve the education and general welfare of disadvantaged children in China.
Stepping Stones is a not-for-profit organization registered in Shanghai, China.
Stepping Stones was founded in 2006 in order to organize volunteers to teach English in Shanghai’s primary schools for migrants in response to requests from schools’ principals, which struggled to provide a reasonable standard of English teaching to their students.
English is one of the three core subjects in the Chinese school curriculum, and the one that poses most challenges to rural and migrant children. The majority of migrant children do not make it to senior high school, and only a small handful are able to make the grade to attend university. Improvement of basic education is the key to helping children from rural areas to attend senior high school and university, and thereby improve the future prospects of rural families.
English level is therefore the biggest differentiator between urban and rural Chinese children, and this above all perpetuates the gap in educational and employment opportunities.
Shanghai benefits from a large expatriate and local English-speaking community, many of whom are eager for meaningful volunteering opportunities. Stepping Stones was founded to match this rich resource to a real need in the community. Stepping Stones recruits, trains, coordinates, and supports hundreds of volunteers to teach thousands of students in more than 30 migrant schools and community centers in Shanghai and Zhejiang province and more than a dozen of schools in rural China (mostly in Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan and Zhejiang provinces).
Stepping Stones is proud that classes taught by his volunteers been proven to increase students’ exam results, increase their confidence and interest in English, better prepare students for their key examinations, and expose youth to cross-cultural programming and the virtues of volunteerism.
Over the years, Stepping Stones has expanded its field of activity to include eye care and digital literacy.
Major Projects and Activities
English Teaching Programs
Shanghai English Teaching Program– Stepping Stones longest running program (since 2006) provides weekly English lessons to migrant children in Shanghai migrant schools and community centers.
Rural Volunteering Tours– Stepping Stones takes groups of volunteers to rural schools to teach English to students in small groups (around 10 students per two volunteers) for a weekend or a whole week. This program has been running since 2007.
Rural Individual Volunteering placements– This program (started in 2014) arranges individual volunteers to teach English every weekday at rural schools for a period of two weeks to one month.
Videolink Program– Starting in 2016 Stepping Stones provides weekly English lessons to ‘left-behind’ and rural children via the internet, providing an efficient and sustainable way of reaching more disadvantaged children in remote areas.
Teacher Training Program in Shanghai-- This program (started summer 2016) aims to improve the quality of English education at migrant schools and increase the English teachers’ confidence to use English in class, as well as to improve their teaching methodology for English practice activities.
Videolink Teacher Training Program--This program provides teacher training to rural English teachers through videolink (running since Jan 2017).
Stepping Up (Digital Literacy) Program
This computer skills training program was established by Stepping Stones in 2016, inspired by Orphan Impact’s digital literacy program in Vietnam. Stepping Up helps rural Chinese children to be better prepared for their futures after leaving school by teaching digital literacy skills common to the modern workplace.
Stepping Stones’ I Care project (since 2008) provides free eye tests, free treatment, free spectacles and free eye operations to migrant children in Shanghai and Zhejiang province who otherwise would not have access to these services.