The mission of the Service Training for Environmental Progress (STEP) program is to assist community-based environmental organizations in low-income communities as they mobilize and educate citizens about environmental health.
The Center for Health Services, in response to a demand from citizens who were acting on environmental issues at the local level, utilized its model of pairing university resources with community needs to establish STEP in 1980 as a viable means for providing community service coupled with student experiential learning.
Since its conception, STEP has provided community education and technical assistance on a wide range of issues such as environmental justice, community mobilization, pollution prevention, environmental testing and documentation of environmental problems. STEP also has provided community-based learning opportunities to technically-trained students and outreach workers, who work with host community organizations for periods of six weeks to one year. Click here for a timeline of past initiatives.
Currently, STEP is adding a new level of involvement with local community organizations in addition to placing students in local communities. STEP also invites citizen groups to sponsor a local intern who will receive technical support from STEP and the Center for Health Services. This support for local interns includes use of Vanderbilt facilities and resources, training by Center for Health Services staff, and a moderate stipend. These resources, combined with the interns' familiarity with local issues, will provide a solid base for significant community improvement. Click here for program information and guidelines.
STEP is partially funded by and a member organization of Community Shares, a non-profit organization that funds groups trying to get to the root cause of social and environmental issues.