Stepping Forward is a transition program for adult students, ages 18 – 26, who have completed a high school program and have chosen to continue their education.  A range of abilities are welcome as students are supported by staff in the running of a store in downtown Ionia.

Stepping Forward’s students interact with the public who enter the non-profit retail store to purchase products that students create or repurpose.  Student’s operate the cash register, practice employment and life skills as well as home living skills while at the facility. Earnings go into individual student accounts which grow and diminish as products sell and as spending choices are practiced.

Our community connections grow daily.  Customers donate glass, wood, ceramic and other materials for repurposing.  Multiple off-site job opportunities and volunteer events are realized.  Recreation and leisure opportunities are integrated into the community as well.

These interactions with the public provide our young adults the chance to develop self-confidence, good reputations for themselves and good public relations for the community of people with differences.

Program Outcomes

  • Students will learn to navigate and take advantage of the community resources available to them.
  • Students will learn necessary life skills to help them live as independently as they are able.
  • Students will participate in meaningful work experiences that will enhance their individual abilities to acquire volunteer work, unpaid competitive work or paid work.
  • Students will learn the important and necessary skills to become responsible citizens within their communities.

Program Objectives

Personal Finance:

  • Apply money concepts
  • Appropriate money making skills
  • Budgeting
  • Spending wisely


Use of Time:

  • Applying time concepts
  • Use of elapsed time concepts
  • Use of a daily planner
  • Reading/interpreting a calendar
  • Adjusting to schedule changes
  • Applying time concepts to a work setting
  • Goal setting/follow through
  • Scheduling appointments/transportation


Self Care and Hygiene Health:

  • Personal health care
  • Personal hygiene in the work  setting
  • Personal physical activity


Daily Living Skills:

  • Telephone skills
  • Meal preparation/cooking
  • Household management
  • Personal letter writing
  • Grocery shopping
  • Maintaining personal information
  • Decision making
  • Problem solving


Work Skills:

  • Interest inventory
  • Job exploration activities
  • Negotiation
  • Job searches
  • Public transportation
  • Applications/Interview skills
  • Job shadowing/training experience


Community Resources/Living Options:

  • Explore realistic living options
  • Roles of local/national government
  • Rights and responsibilities


Community Involvement:

  • Identify adult community resources
  • Appropriate social behaviors
  • Self advocacy
  • Community safety
  • Participation in community


Social Skills:

  • Relationships
  • Social behavior
  • Conflict resolution
  • Problem solving


Recreation and Leisure:

  • Identification of opportunities
  • Appropriate behaviors