About STEP, Inc.

Solutions That Empower People (STEP), Inc. is a dynamic community action agency that provides services at significant milestones throughout life. Programs are designed to partner with individuals and families to help them overcome adversity and enhance their quality of life through community, economic, personal, and family development. Our Mission: STEP, and our partners, facilitate Solutions That Empower People to overcome their barriers to economic, educational, and developmental success within the communities we serve.

STEP is headquartered in Rocky Mount and is the designated community action agency for Franklin and Patrick counties. STEP also provides services in Bedford, Pittsylvania, and Henry counties, as well as the cities of Martinsville and Danville.

We believe our urgent approach to serving our community and our professionalism are as important as our Mission. We are committed to teamwork, mutual respect, integrity, service, and personal growth. Please see our full Mission, Vision and Core Values.


A Little History

Formerly known as the Franklin County Community Action Program, we were founded in 1966 and changed our name to Support to Eliminate Poverty (STEP) in 1990. In 1992, under the leadership of then Executive Director Joe Bland, STEP purchased our current facility on Dent Street in Rocky Mount. 

Our earliest programs addressed things like Adult Education, Job Corp, and a Clothes Closet for those in need in the community. We also opened Community Centers to help residents learn to sew, and seeds were given to farmers at planting time. Through these services a natural partnership with Ferrum College developed, a relationship that continues to grow and strengthen even today.

A few highlights of our past accomplishments include helping over 100 families in the Ferrum/Callaway area who had no running water; helping youth gain employment through federal jobs programs; and addressing critical low-income housing challenges in partnership with Farmers Home Administration. Weatherization and Head Start, established here in 1969, have long been staple programs at STEP. We also opened the first licensed daycare in Franklin County which was located at the American Legion Building on Diamond Avenue.

In 2016, STEP changed its name to Solutions That Empower People to better reflect the changing face of our services and the communities we serve.

Today, STEP serves over 3,500 of our friends and neighbors in the community. Together with our partner agencies, we employ sustainable strategies that address both the symptoms and the root causes of poverty. We take our Mission and our relationships with our clients personally, as we all work together to help each individual realize his or her fullest potential!

Our broad array of programs include child development and school readiness programs through Head Start/Early Head Start; a private day school and college readiness program through Youth Services; weatherization, crisis heating and cooling, and home rental assistance services through Weatherization and Housing; home-delivered meals, congregate meals, and transportation services through Senior Services; homelessness prevention and community re-entry (for citizens returning to the community) services through Supportive Services; and tax preparation assistance through our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. 

Our agency operates on an annual budget of about $4.5 million. Services are administered by a very capable and dedicated team approximately 100 strong. 

Agency Management

STEP is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors who actively participate in setting and then ensuring that we achieve all of our strategic goals and objectives. STEP’s leadership team includes an Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director, Finance Director, and five program directors, who work in concert to ensure that the day-to-day operations of the organization run smoothly. 


STEP Leadership


Program Directors

  • Housing Services Director: 
  • Early Childhood Director: Shirley Wells (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
  • Youth Services Director: Darnell Moore (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
  • Senior and Food Services Director: Carolyn Simmons (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)