Life-Skills Training & Empowerment Program (L-STEP)

The Life-Skills Training & Empowerment Program (L-STEP) is dedicated to empowering individuals who have experienced homelessness to clearly identify and pursue new paths toward more fulfilling lives.

Visit our VOLUNTEER INFORMATION PAGE to learn more about L-STEP Volunteer Opportunities!


    • Days of Operation: Mondays and Wednesdays
    • Hours of Operations: 5:00pm–8:00pm
    • Program Calendar:
      • L-STEP runs for 14 weeks/27 sessions
      • Fall and Spring semesters


Mission Statement

The Life-Skills Training & Empowerment Program (L-STEP) is dedicated to empowering individuals who have experienced homelessness to clearly identify and pursue new paths toward more fulfilling lives.

During an intense 14-week program combining inspiration, intrapersonal development and practical tools, L-STEP helps participants set personalized goals and develop the resolve to achieve those goals through a program of relevant life-skills workshops, one-to-one mentoring, and peer support.

Upon completion of the program, graduates are equipped to move forward with their lives, and are connected with specialized programs that can take them still further toward the realization of their ultimate ambitions.

Program Origins

In 1985 the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing held its first Interfaith Convocation and Overnight City Budget Vigil to call for action to address homelessness and the housing crisis in the New York City Budget. This event became an annual focus for the group and in 1989 the overnight event became a 200-day encampment in City Hall Park.

The power of the personal testimonies of those who led the encampment was so compelling that the Interfaith Assembly invited some of the leaders to share their stories publicly as part of the effort to encourage citizen action to address the issue. Inspired by these stories and in partnership with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, the Assembly developed the Education Outreach Program (EOP) to assist homeless men and women to articulate their experience of homelessness and at the same time begin to recover from the trauma associated with homelessness and move forward with their lives.

Since its inception in 1989, the EOP format has been used to establish eight additional programs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Westchester, including L-STEP at Xavier Mission.  These programs serve homeless individuals, survivors of domestic violence, veterans, and post-incarcerated individuals.

Primary Components

L-STEP is comprised of four primary components:

      • Life-Skills Workshops: Guest speakers lead discussions on important life-skills topics including goal-setting, personal empowerment, employment, money management, healthy living and education.
      • Mentoring: Each participant works one-on-one with a volunteer mentor to set short and long-term goals and the plans to achieve those goals.  Mentors also help participants incorporate the lessons discussed in the workshop sessions into their own lives, and assist with the preparation of the Stepping Stones presentation.
      • Support Services: Under the direction of a licensed social worker, a social work student from the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service provides support and case management for the participants throughout the semester, as part of their field practicum.  The student assists participants with the emotional rigors of the program, as well as with practical needs in their daily lives that may create obstacles to graduation.
      • Stepping Stones: Participants share their personal stories and life goals with each other, their mentors and the group facilitators as a way to reinforce positive behavior, diminish negative behavior and commit to specific goals.  Toward the program’s conclusion, participants share their stories and goals with an audience of family, friends, parishioners and other members of the community in an evening known as Stepping Stones.  The presentations are followed by a Graduation ceremony.

Participants and the group facilitators share a meal before each session, reinforcing the group’s cohesiveness and spirit of trust. Occasionally, mentors, workshop leaders and others attend these meals.  A $10 stipend and MetroCard are provided to participants for each session attended.  Participants are required to bank half their stipend until successful completion of the program.


Requirements for Participation

Potential participants MUST:

                  • Be referred by a case manager or program director for admittance.  Unaffiliated persons may inquire individually and will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
                  • Complete an intake and interview with the L-STEP facilitator(s).
                  • Be in a transitional state of homelessness: more specifically, living in temporary housing (shelter, SRO, etc.) while in the process of finding permanent housing
                  • Have at least 6 months sobriety (and in a maintenance program if applicable)
                  • Be 21 years of age or older
                  • Possess mental acuity consistent with the level of functioning necessary to participate in all elements of L-STEP
                  • Have a desire to move forward in life; eager to set goals and create a plan to achieve those goals
                  • Have a willingness to share one’s story and be supportive of others in similar situations

Benefits of Participation

Participants receive the following in support of their participation:

                  • A home-cooked meal shared with the group each evening
                  • A $10 stipend for each session attended (participants are required to bank half of the stipend and receive the balance upon graduation)
                  • A round-trip MetroCard for each session attended


Xavier Block Party!

Join us as we celebrate the Mission’s 35th Anniversary with a block party!

35th Anniversary Video

Learn about Xavier Mission’s work in the community and prepare to be inspired by our amazing guests and volunteers!  

Change a Life!

Sponsor an L-STEP participant today and help change someone’s life!