Mark Gagnon and Dilys Pierson of VSAC
Mark Gagnon and Dilys Pierson of VSAC.

College of St. Joseph’s STEPS program for foster youth transitioning to college is getting attention on the national level.

CSJ will act as a consultant for The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, assisting in creating a toolkit of best practices that colleges and universities have implemented in order to reach out to foster youth and youth at risk for homelessness in general.

This toolkit will be distributed to colleges and universities across the country in order to give ideas and support to schools that aspire to create support systems for their students, similar to CSJ’s STEPS program.

NAEHCY said they are honored to recognize CSJ and the support systems it has designed for their students as part of its toolkit.

Mark Gagnon, associate dean of student services and director of the STEPS program, said CSJ has also been called upon this summer by the vice president of finance for Morgan Stanley and Western Michigan University to act as a consultant related to CSJ’s work with STEPS.

Gagnon will act as a consultant as Morgan Stanley advises Metropolitan College of New York in developing a program similar to STEPS. CSJ, UCLA and Western Michigan’s programs for youth transitioning from foster care will all interviewed as part of the process.

“It is an honor for STEPS to be recognized on a national level as an expert for our work in supporting youth transitioning from foster care,” Gagnon said. “STEPS remains an innovative program with exceptional outcomes and a program that we can all be very proud of.”


STEPS, Students Taking an Effective Path to Success, is the first full-time residential program in New England for youth transitioning out of foster care. It provides a supportive campus environment for students so they can earn a college degree, develop work skills, and experience optional counseling and guidance support.

CSJ solves logistical problems foster youth traditionally face by offering year-round housing and meal service. STEPS students also have access to career and personal counseling. The STEPS program greatly exceeds the national average in both graduation and persistence rates for foster care students.