Who We Are

Mission & History

Our Mission

Our mission is simple. We want to improve the reading skills and self-esteem of low elementary school students.

Our History

Since its founding in 1985, STAIR has made a difference in the lives of more than 7,000 second-graders from Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parish public elementary schools. Over the past 31 years, hundreds of community volunteers have donated their time and talents to serve as reading tutors, testers and workday helpers. Despite Hurricane Katrina and a re-organized public school system, the STAIR program has maintained its preeminence as one of the most effective children’s literacy programs for students, parents and guardians, family members, teachers and principals in the New Orleans area.

STAIR began as a neighborhood outreach mission of the Presbyterian Action Council of the Metropolitan New Orleans Area. Five volunteer tutors and five public school second grade students worked during the summer at Berean Presbyterian Church in New Orleans on reading and language skills. The objectives of the project, outlined in a mission statement were “…to equip children with skills for reading, learning and optimal development, and to provide volunteers a positive, rewarding experience, adding to the richness of their lives…” Other local churches began hosting tutoring sites to meet the needs of the STAIR program and interest expressed by their congregations.

In 1991, STAIR incorporated as a nonprofit organization. St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church has supported the STAIR program since its inception and has provided a home office to the STAIR program. It has been the largest tutoring site since 1992. Through the years, the STAIR program continued by incorporating new churches, local universities and elementary schools as tutoring sites.

Post Hurricane Katrina, STAIR opened a new tutoring location in Belle Chasse in Plaquemines Parish. In recent years, the program began an expansion into St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes with sites in Lacombe, Covington and Hammond. The start of the 2016-17 school year welcomes a new tutoring site in New Orleans East.

This school year, STAIR will operate 27 tutoring locations serving approximately 240 public elementary school students from 43+ schools in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Tammany, and Tangipahoa Parishes. We anticipate more than 350 volunteers who will teach reading and support our program.

STAIR Affiliates in Other States

STAIR continues to grow, serving as a model for other programs around the country with affiliates in five states that STAIR has helped start. These STAIR sites reach more than 250 children: Birmingham, Alabama; Port Charlotte, Florida; Monroe, Louisiana; Annapolis, Maryland; and Lewisburg, West Virginia. These sites use STAIR’s organizational structure and curriculum, but are financially independent of the New Orleans program.