No. We are an academic program that meets in the summer and after-school. Find more information about our programming by grade level . We guide all students and families through the process of identifying and applying to a right-fit school. This includes independent schools—tuition-charging private schools that offer financial aid—and select Boston public schools, including the three Exam Schools which are public schools that require an entrance exam.
Steppingstone offers programs for Boston students seeking to succeed in middle school, high school, and college.
In order to apply, your student must be:
- A Boston resident
- Currently in 4th or 5th grade
- Attending an eligible school*
- Motivated and eager to learn!
* Eligible schools include public and select parochial schools. Students currently attending one of Steppingstone’s or a are not eligible to apply. If you have questions about whether your student’s school is eligible, please contact Elena Jay, Director of Admission, at
In addition, our program looks for families who:
- Are committed to supporting their students through the Steppingstone journey.
- Demonstrate a need for our tuition-free program (note: there is a $100 fee for each summer of academic program in grades 5–7, which can be reduced or waived if it is a hardship).
- Are interested in exploring independent schools and select Boston public schools, including the three exam schools.
Unfortunately, students are only eligible to apply for Steppingstone during their fourth- or fifth-grade year. We encourage you to explore other Boston resources here:
Boston Public Schools list of high-quality, out-of-school time programs.
BPS students: You can register your child for summer programs here through SchoolMint.
Non-BPS students: Please contact the program’s director to inquire about registering your child for summer programming. Click on the program you are interested in and contact information is provided.
A detailed overview of the Boston Public Exam School admission process
Steppingstone’s guide to applying to Independent Schools
For further information about different school options, we encourage you to contact your school's guidance counselor or principal.
There is an ~$100 fee each summer, which can be reduced or waived if it is a hardship for your family.
The Academy is the first part of the Steppingstone journey which includes a time commitment for after-school and summer programming.
• Fourth-grade Scholars and their families must make a commitment of up to 26 months for the Academy.
- • Includes up to three summer sessions before fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. Summer sessions take place for six weeks, Monday–Friday (7:45 AM–3:30 PM).
• Includes up to two academic year sessions during fifth and sixth grade, with classes on Wednesdays (4:25 PM – 6:30 PM) and Saturdays (8:45 AM – 3:30 PM).
• Participation in the second academic year and third summer depend on students’ sixth-grade school admission results.
• Fifth-grade Scholars and their families must make a commitment of up to 14 months for the Academy.
- • Includes two summer sessions before sixth and seventh grade. Summer sessions take place for six weeks, Monday–Friday (7:45 AM–3:30 PM).
• Includes one academic year session during sixth grade, with classes on Wednesdays (4:25 PM – 6:30 PM) and Saturdays (8:45 AM – 3:30 PM).
Scholars will continue to participate in Steppingstone programming through middle school, high school, and college. In the middle school years, program attendance is required once a month. In high school and college, while there is not a set frequency, Scholars are expected to continue their participation in programming and stay in touch with Steppingstone. After the Academy, Scholars have access to a Steppingstone Advisor, homework assistance and tutoring, SAT classes, college readiness support, college and financial aid application workshops, internship and job guidance, and connections to the Steppingstone Alumni network. .
Traditionally, Steppingstone summer classes are held at Milton Academy (Milton, MA).Academic year classes on Wednesdays are conducted remotely and Saturday classes are held in-person at Boston Latin Academy (Dorchester, MA). Bus transportation is available during the summer for all students and during the academic year for East Boston students only.
The admission process includes:
- Online application (consisting of demographic information and short responses for the family and student)
- Teacher recommendation (including most recent report card and standardized test scores)
- Interview and an exam for finalists
Final decisions are made based on all of the admission components. We are looking for students who enjoy learning and challenging themselves, families and students who are committed to making Steppingstone a priority, and families who demonstrate a need for tuition-free, college access programming.
(select public or independent schools)?
At these schools, students share a desire to excel in school and go to college. The resources, teachers, extracurricular opportunities and support offered prepare students for the rigor of college and nearly all of the graduates go on to pursue a four-year degree.
Independent schools are a type of private school that charges tuition annually. Steppingstone does not provide scholarships. Independent schools award financial aid according to family need. Steppingstone works with families to apply for financial aid. Most families receive some form of financial aid and many receive generous aid packages. Please note that all families are asked to contribute some amount of money toward their child’s tuition at an independent school.
Steppingstone Scholars have the opportunity to reduce their overall unmet financial aid gap by applying to one of two scholarship funds created for Scholars by members of the Steppingstone community: the Collegiate Scholars Fund and the Hope Scholarship Fund. Both funds are last-dollar, renewable scholarships, and grants range in size from $3,000 – $8,000. The application process is selective, and between six and nine Scholars are awarded these scholarships each year.
In addition, Steppingstone Advisors support Scholars and families through the process of applying for college financial aid and local scholarships, which includes nominating Scholars for scholarship programs that are partners of Steppingstone.
Our offices are situated on the traditional territories of the Pawtucket and Massachusett peoples.
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Steppingstone is an educational nonprofit which serves students of every race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, or political beliefs to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to Scholars enrolled in the program. It does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship programs, or other organization-administered activities.
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