Bill Smith

A Stepping Stone Foundation, Phoenix, serves Alhambra and Fowler Public Schools

Cynthia Gattorna, Nominator

Fortunately Bill Smith was watching 60 Minutes when Dr. Eugene Lang was talking about a program he started in Harlem that promised 60 eighth graders a college education if they would just stay in school. Bill contacted Dr. Lang and the inspiration for a preschool program for “at risk” children, A Stepping Stone Foundation, was born.

The foundation has served nearly 4000 “at risk” children and their parents in the Isaac, Alhambra and Fowler school districts. Knowing support at home is one of the keys to success, the program requires parents to be in the classroom with their children twice each month, to attend English classes and if they have not completed high school to attend GED classes as well as parenting classes.

A college scholarship fund is also available for any child who has been in one of the pre-school classes. Presently 35 Stepping Stone pre-school graduates are in college and one is about to graduate from Medical School. Others are going into teaching, law enforcement and other fields. Bill has been involved in many community programs over his 50-year career as minister of for Cross Roads United Methodist Church and then Shadow Rock Congregation. Although he is now retired, he is still working and caring for his community.

“If you give a person a vision of who they are and what talents they have, that person will begin to see and do great things.”