Success Through Education Program, Inc., (STEP) formally known as Pathfinders, was founded in 1999 by Ron Crimins, a retired Northwestern Mutual broker, who graduated from Nativity School, a Catholic school located in Los Angeles’ inner city.
Motivated by a lifelong drive to give back and assist the students of his former grade school, he organized Pathfinders to seek out speakers who could motivate the students to stay in school and aspire for higher education. As a result, he recruited attorneys, CPA’s, dentists, business executives and others who would visit and speak to each classroom (kindergarten through 8th grade), emphasizing the rewards of hard work, determination and pursuing a quality education. A major highlight was having Rosario Marin, the 41st Treasurer of the United States, as a guest speaker.
Inspired by their exposure to these successful professionals, many of the graduating 8th graders applied to and were accepted at private high schools, but their families were unable to meet the full cost of tuition. As a result, in 2000, Ron decided to expand his objectives for Pathfinders beyond motivational speeches, and started single-handedly raising money in order to provide tuition assistance to students who were accepted to, but couldn’t afford, private high schools.
In 2005, Pathfinders was incorporated as a 501(3)(c) and renamed Success Through Education Program, Inc. (STEP). Since it started offering scholarships, STEP has provided over $1 million in tuition assistance for students to attend some of Los Angeles most notable private local high schools. STEP alumni have graduated from universities such as USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Loyola Marymount, and Mount St. Mary’s College.