Stepping Out earns Seal of Excellence

The staff of Stepping Out Inc. includes from left, Shirley Wadley, Cristin Yeary, Executive Director Lori Jarnigan, Jackie Livesay, Lynda Lawson and Mary Guzman.

Stepping Out, Inc. is a recipient of the Standards for Excellence Institute’s Seal of Excellence for successfully completing their rigorous accreditation program.

Stepping Out voluntarily opened itself up to analysis by a “jury of its peers.”

The peer review team examined Stepping Out for compliance with the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector, in areas including: Mission, Strategy and Evaluation; Leadership: Board, Staff, and Volunteers; Legal Compliance and Ethics; Finance and Operations; Resource Development; and Public Awareness, Engagement, and Advocacy.

The Standards for Excellence Institute evaluates fundamental values such as honesty, integrity, fairness, respect, trust, responsibility, and accountability, all of which are inherently important in the nonprofit world. Stepping Out’s programs and services, management, fundraising and financial practices were subjected to in-depth examination prior to earning accreditation.

Lori Jarnigan, executive director of Stepping Out. said, “We are so excited that we have received this accreditation. This was a three year process that our late founder, Patrice Puglise, put much hard work and dedication into. We are honored to continue this excellence and God’s mission that He begun in Patrice to serve those in need in our community.”

The Standards for Excellence Institute is committed to raising the level of principled and responsible practices within the nonprofit sector. The Institute offers a model for organizations to implement in their operating plans so they can gain a deeper understanding of their effectiveness, improve their decision-making and minimize risks. Nonprofits that adhere to the principles and practices of strong nonprofit management and governance can become formally accredited under the Standards for Excellence program.

A recent university study of 102 nonprofit organizations that have received the Standards for Excellence accreditation compared with peer organizations of similar size and industry examined the impact of becoming accredited. Significant findings found that the process is associated with an increase direct public support.

Researchers found that nonprofit organizations’ stakeholders will react positively to organizations earning the Standards for Excellence accreditation by allocating more resources to the nonprofit. The Standards for Excellence program provides a structured approach to improved operations and quality management, delivering years of benchmarking and best practices to organizations’ leadership, and a “Good Housekeeping”-type seal of approval to outside stakeholders, indicating that the organization is performing as promised after comprehensive evaluation by practitioners and industry experts.

Stepping Out, Inc. is a faith-based 501 C-3 organization which works to create a pattern of positive behavior in individuals and families by equipping them with skills to achieve emotional, physical, and spiritual growth. We advocate for adults in the Lakeway to rise above adversity and take ownership of their future and as parents to become the positive role models for our next generation.

The Standards for Excellence originated as a special initiative of Maryland Nonprofits in 1998 and has since expanded into a national program to help nonprofit organizations achieve the highest benchmarks of ethics and accountability in nonprofit governance, management and operations. The program has been formally adopted by ten state, regional and national affiliate organizations, and is supported by nearly 80 Licensed Consultants and over 100 volunteers with professional experience in nonprofit governance and administration. Since its inception, the program has accredited or recognized over 200 individual nonprofit organizations that completed a rigorous application and review process to demonstrate adherence to the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector.