A Step BeyondWhat's Happening and Other Info

COVID ReOpening Information

A Step Beyond (ASB) will launch its fall programming on Monday, September 21st, 2020. ASB will host classes online through Zoom and based on State guidelines, limit our on-campus activities. As ASB prepares to reopen, we do so with precaution and by using some of the best practices available. We are using guidelines provided by the State of California, San Diego County, and Bioprep Solutions. Bioprep Solutions is a public health solutions organization. They are professionals in their field and developed many of the safety operations and protocols to safely reopen ASB. The following information guides our on-campus activities.

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Fall Program Information

Dear A Step Beyond Students and Families,

It has been a year unlike any other in our history – from having to abruptly stop in-person classes in March, to postponing our annual concert, and finally, to creating online programming. Many of you were able to navigate these changes with us and all have seen great value in your continued connection with us.

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Safety Code of Conduct


A Step Beyond (ASB) and parents of enrolled students hereby enter into the following Memorandum of Understanding in response to the ongoing health concerns presented by the COVID-19 virus.

ASB and parents recognize our shared interest in maintaining safe, high quality dance, academic, and family services onsite for our students, while mitigating potential exposure and illnesses to students and ASB staff from the COVID-19 virus. As a result, both parties agree to follow the following code of conduct and enter into this agreement to maximize student, staff, and community safety.

Please download, read and respond. Thank You!

ASB COVID-19 Safety Code of Conduct MOU-English and Spanish.pdf

ASB COVID 19 Safety- Waiver of Liability.pdf

Fall Program packet- English and Spanish.pdf

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A Step Beyond Names James Wright as New Executive Director

For Immediate Release
June 30, 2020

Contact Jeff Segall
Member, ASB Board of Directors

A Step Beyond CEO, James K. Wright

Escondido, California – The Board of Directors of A Step Beyond (ASB) announced today that James K. Wright will be joining the Creative Youth Development non-profit organization on July 13 as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Director, following the retirement of current CEO and Executive Director Frank Foster, according to Board Chair Steve Gosselin.

“After months of going through an extensive recruitment and interviewing process, our Board identified James as an exceptional fit for A Step Beyond,” Gosselin said. “As our new CEO and Executive Director, James will bring his extensive experience of helping underserved youth in San Diego take hold of their dreams for college and a career.”

Wright has served as CEO of San Diego’s Classroom of the Future Foundation (CFF) since December of 2015. At the non-profit organization, he restored fiscal sustainability, developed a diversified fundraising model, and built a five-year strategic plan for their model college and career readiness program for K-12 grade students.

Prior to joining Classroom of the Future, Wright served as Director of Development and Marketing for Feeding San Diego (FSD). He joined FSD in August of 2011. FSD is one of San Diego’s leading hunger-relief organizations providing nutritious meals for those in need.

Wright explained his reason for accepting the offer to come to ASB. “ASB is an amazing organization,” he said, “because it provides young people with the vision and skills they need to succeed. The ongoing arts, educational and social service programs, and individualized mentoring, that ASB provides, are exactly what young people need, and I know of no other organization that provides all of these services as well as ASB does,” he added. “On top of that, ASB commits to working with and helping these kids for ten years, until they get their high school diploma!”

Wright believes that ASB’s mission and programs are more critical than ever before, with many families impacted by increased hardships caused by the pandemic and the likely cuts to public  education this Fall.

Wright has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from George Washington University in Washington D.C., where he graduated cum laude in 2009 following studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain for six months. He received his Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego (USD) in 2014 and is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt through USD.

A Step Beyond was formed in 2014 as a vision of Frank and Jan Foster, and a group of community leaders, who made a commitment to establishing the non-profit organization to help underserved youth following his retirement as CEO of Fieldstone Homes. Since its inception, Foster has served as the organization’s CEO and Executive Director, because he wanted to help young people learn to fulfill their dreams and succeed in a career. As he leaves ASB, he will complete his second career retirement. He, along with his wife, Jan, will remain on ASB’s Board of Directors.

“I am absolutely thrilled that James will be helping bring A Step Beyond to the next level of serving our kids, their families, and this community,” Foster said. “He has a passion for helping the underserved in our community, and his experience in education, fundraising, and leading teams will serve A Step Beyond well.”

Based at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, ASB brings in third-grade students from Escondido and San Marcos and commits to mentoring them through graduating high school and pursuing college or a career. In almost every case, ASB students will be the first in their families to attend college. ASB uses dance as the mechanism for recruiting their students. “Teaching dance enhances our students’ cognitive skills and helps them focus on the arts and music,” Foster said. “Usually these types of programs are the first to be cut in public schools when budgets are reduced. Our program picks up for that.”

Once students are recruited to ASB, they also receive extensive academic support including hands on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) opportunities in ASB’s MakerSpace lab and college preparatory assistance. They also have access to certified social service counselors who work with students individually or in groups, as well as with students’ families. Wright lives in Vista with his wife, Samantha, and their two children, Fox and Indy.

In his spare time, James teaches tennis and golf for Southern California Special Olympics and serves on the Board of Directors of Resounding Joy, a non-profit that provides music therapy to children, seniors, veterans and individuals facing hardships. He also is a volunteer grant writer for Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad.

Download the Press Release.pdf

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Member ID’s

Academic Support

  • Students/Parents: Anyone wanting tutoring can contact Ivan: icorona@a-step-beyond.org or Ms. Taylor: cztaylor@a-step-beyond.org
  • Academic Leaders contacting students/parents with Learning Contracts to arrange individual tutoring sessions
  • Wednesday meetings with Academic Leaders: 4PM: https://zoom.us/j/863865321
  • Educational packets/information available at ASB office Thursday, March 19th, from 12:00 noon-4:00 PM

Dance Classes

Family Services

We want our students and parents to know that you are not alone during this quarantine. We encourage all our students and parents to join our online support groups:

Call (760)670-3250 to receive a Zoom Online Meeting ID for you or your child.


  • Fundraising Committee Meeting: Tuesday, March 24th from 8:30-10:00


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Happy Holidays 2019!

Check out our latest newsletter for the holiday season!


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Summer Newsletter 2019 (Roxanne)

Get to know Roxanne: Fun Facts:


What are 5 words that best describe you?

Curious, playful, kind, open and positive

What was the career you dreamed of one day having back when you were a kid?

As a child, I dreamed of being an airline flight attendant because they were always smiling and got to travel the world.


What are you reading right now?

Children of Blood & Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi


What book, movie, or song influenced or inspired you as a youth?

I was very inspired by the flamenco songs I heard growing up in Cadiz, Spain.  Pueblos de la Tierra Mia, by Cameron de la Isla is a beautiful song that captures the vibrant and soulful people of Andalucia. Listening to it transports me through time and space to special time in my life.


What would you choose as your personal theme song?

I’m not sure about that! Too many songs speak to me, depending on my mood.   Most are not even in English.  I enjoy music from around the world and usually connect with the feeling and rhythm over lyrics.


What do you do for fun when you’re not at ASB?

I swim in the ocean like a mermaid at La Jolla Cove and Caves. I also love to paddle board and kayak all over Southern California.


What’s your favorite style of dance? or who’s a favorite choreographer?

My favorite styles of dance are Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian and any other African-American diaspora based dances (ex. Peruvian, Venezuelan, Caribbean…).  All of these dances share the same African roots but have evolved their own unique styles and identities through out the Americas.  My all time favorite choreographer is Alvin Ailey, his brilliance is timeless.


Personal motto?

Motion is lotion & use it or lose it!


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Summer Newsletter 2019 (Josue)

Get to know Josue: Fun Facts:


What are 5 words that best describe you?

Loving, achieving, persistent, outgoing, devoted


What was the career you dreamed of one day having back when you were a kid?

I looked up to my grandfather when I was a kid and wanted to be a carpenter like him. He gifted me a set of miniature tools, including a functioning hammer, planer, and saw that I used to build furniture next to him using scrap wood.


What are you reading right now?

In preparing for my role at ASB, I am reviewing work by Louis Cozolino, Irvin Yalom, and Bessel Van Der Kolk. But in my leisure, most recently, I read various Roal Dahl short stories, and a couple of Kurt Vonnegut’s books.


What book, movie, or song influenced or inspired you as a youth?

I was exposed to a mixture of musical genres of music when I was younger and there are so many great songs I could pick, but Corazón de Niño by Argentine pianist Raúl di Blasio was my favorite. A calm composition for a chaotic environment to keep me centered. I think I heard it once on t.v. and it stuck.


What would you choose as your personal theme song?

I’m not sure but probably something fun and uplifting to get me going.


What do you do for fun when you’re not at ASB?

I love spending time with my family at home and outdoors. At home, my spouse and I enjoy cooking and watching tv shows or movies together. Outdoors, we enjoy visiting new restaurants and exploring new towns.


What’s your favorite style of dance? or who’s a favorite choreographer?

I enjoy the spectrum of wonderful dance styles and the raw energy and expression exuded by the dancers in a performance. Mikhail Baryshnikov, however, remains on my list of dancers I’d like to see perform live.


 Personal motto?

Celebrate wins and appreciate good times.

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Let’s Talk Wellness – Tips from Family Services

Let’s talk wellness!!

Self-care is an imperative part of wellness. As social worker, I have always been encouraged and taught that self-care is an important part of our profession. In my experience, I realized that it’s not just important for social worker but is an important part of everyone’s health and overall wellbeing.

What does wellness mean?

The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as the “active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.” Wellness is a process that consists of increasing awareness and choosing options that result in growth and balance.

At A Step Beyond we know that our youth are making life choices that impact their health in significant ways. Our youth face difficult situations and struggles with, school, peers, relationships, family dynamics, and stress. We make sure our students have access to a social worker and social work interns, and have the opportunity to talk about their wellness, meeting in small groups, and for one-on-one check-ins. During these sessions they are encouraged to evaluate their own health and their current life habits and to set goals that they choose and that they believe are important to build a healthy life. Our goal is when our students leave our organization, they will have the skills and tools to live a happier and healthier life.

Here are some suggestions to help you reach your own personal wellness goals!

  1. Use a Strength Approach – Remember that self-care is a process and we do not have a perfect self-care plan. Switch negative thoughts to positive thinking!
  2.  Create SMART plan – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Limited.
  3. Enlist Support – Enlist support from people, group support, calendar reminders, books, and other materials.
  4. Set Aside Time to Reflect – You may do this alone or in conversation. Reflecting will help you think about what is working for you or not. How have you been feeling? What do you need to reach your own personal wellness?

Remember that everyone’s approach is different and self-care takes practice, but the journey can result in positive wellbeing. A Step Beyond values the well-being of each and every person, and encourages you to take the steps to enhance you own personal well-being.

Below are some recommendations and suggestions for the different aspects of self-care

Workplace or professional Self-Care

This involves activities that help you to work consistently at the professional level expected of you. For example:

  • Engage in regular supervision or consulting with a more experienced colleague
  • Set up a peer-support group
  • Be strict with boundaries between clients/students and staff
  • Read professional journals
  • Attend professional development programs.

Physical Self-Care

Activities that help you to stay fit and healthy, and with enough energy to get through your work and personal commitments.

  • Develop a regular sleep routine.
  • Aim for a healthy diet.
  • Take lunch breaks.
  • Go for a walk at lunchtime.
  • Take your dog for a walk after work.
  • Use your sick leave.
  • Get some exercise before/after work regularly.

Psychological Self-Care

Activities that help you to feel clear-headed and able to intellectually engage with the professional challenges that are found in your work and personal life.

  • Keep a reflective journal.
  • Seek and engage in external supervision or regularly consult with a more experienced colleague.
  • Engage with a non-work hobby.
  • Turn off your email and work phone outside of work hours.
  • Make time for relaxation.
  • Make time to engage with positive friends and family.

Emotional Self-Care

Allowing yourself to safely experience your full range of emotions.

  • Develop friendships that are supportive.
  • Write three good things that you did each day.
  • Go to the movies or do something else you enjoy.
  • Talk to you friend about how you are coping with work and life demands.

Spiritual Self-Care

This involves having a sense of perspective beyond the day-to-day of life.

  • Engage in reflective practices like meditation.
  • Go to church/mosque/temple.
  • Do yoga.
  • Reflect with a close friend for support.
  • Download the 1 Giant Mind app and learn mindfulness.
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A Step Beyond featured in Voice of San Diego

A Step Beyond: Empowering Underserved Youth With Dance, Academic Support & Family Services

By Erin Coller

Escondido-based nonprofit A Step Beyond is taking a unique approach to help local children succeed in school and end the poverty cycle, by focusing on dance and teaching children starting in third grade how to express themselves creatively after school while also focusing on academics and family life.

A Step Beyond targets youth living in poverty in North County San Diego through a comprehensive dance, academics and family services program. The location was strategically selected based upon San Diego Workforce Partnership research showing a high poverty rate in the area, as well as a significant rate of youth between the ages of 16-24 who are not working and are not in school. Students begin their 10-year commitment with A Step Beyond beginning in third grade. A goal has been set by A Step Beyond for 100 percent of students to graduate from high school and finish college degrees, in comparison to what is likely to be a low percentage of their peer group who will achieve the same accomplishments.

In operation since 2014, A Step Beyond offers a unique creative youth development program model which has demonstrated success in other states and is the first of its kind in San Diego. The program combines creative arts, academic support and family services for each of the 40 students per year who enroll, with an annual concert and community performances giving the children an opportunity to showcase the skills they have mastered.

A Step Beyond relies on community support through volunteers and donations, and a key partner for the organization is San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). The support from SDG&E focuses on the summer program which aims to help address issues of summer reading loss. Many students fall behind in reading and language skills during the summer and can begin to disengage when they return to school in the fall because they are below the level of their peers.

With SDG&E’s support through the Inspiring Future Leaders giving initiative, the summer program will focus on the nature of environmental challenges, related inquiry, and personal responsibility in this context, the participants (ages 9-12) introduce a cohort of low-income children to various strands of STEM learning.

According to A Step Beyond Artistic Director Jennifer Oliver, research findings show that through the pursuit of mastery in dance, students obtain the habits and skills necessary to achieve their future goals. Dancing provides the opportunity for children to be present in the moment and to navigate and make decisions based upon prediction of outcomes, skills that all translate to other areas of life and lead to success in school and beyond.

Oliver explained that the organization’s goal from the outset was to find the most effective way of targeting children to overcome the cycle of poverty, and the program was designed based on research showing that it is very important to target students at a young age, specifically at the third-grade level. Many children who disengage with school begin doing so in third grade starting with reading loss and leading to total disengagement with the system—a cycle that A Step Beyond is strategically working to stop.

The academic focus of A Step Beyond’s program includes tutoring for students with an open academic lab which they are required to attend for three years. After three years, the students can attend the academic lab by choice if they maintain a grade point average above 3.0, and are required to attend if it falls below that level. A Step Beyond also employs a full-time licensed clinical social worker who works with students and their families in counseling and small group sessions to help ensure a healthy and supportive setting at home which is crucial to success in school and in creative after-school activities.

Photo by Angela and Ithyle

Children who participate begin with an introductory week-long dance program taught in several local schools to all third-grade students, and those who are interested based on their experience can choose to audition. The team at A Step Beyond is then faced with the difficult task of selecting 40 students out of approximately 160 who audition.

“With the focus on dance, students are getting the after-school activity they desire—something fun and creative, with the opportunity to express their unique voice, to be celebrated, and to produce something that they have ownership over,” said Oliver. Students also benefit from the mentorship model and have expressed a desire to work alongside professionals in the field and produce professional-caliber results. Through this type of creative youth development program, we can change the trajectory of students’ lives and stop the cycle of poverty.”

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