Steps Coalition

Current Programs

Gulf Coast Regional Collaborative

Steps has been leading a racial equity project since 2013. We are an ethnically diverse collaborative, our current members include the Mississippi Center for Justice, Boat People SOS, Hijra House and Mary Queen of Vietnam. The primary goal of this project is to increase the economic security of Vietnamese, Latino and African American fisherfolk and small business owners who have been struggling financially since Katrina and then the BP Oil Spill. The GCRC seeks to build resilient communities and prepare for future natural and man-made disasters by organizing Fisherfolk, Small Business Owners and Fish Industry stakeholders into one united voice and provide small business technical assistance.

Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)

Steps Coalition is developing a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) – The Steps Coalition Loan Fund (“Loan Fund”) – that will provide a portfolio of loan products to homeowners and small businesses in Mississippi’s six coastal counties including Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, George, Pearl River, and Stone. The loans will be structured to help existing and first-time home buyers, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and minority and women owned business enterprises (MWBE) traverse the hurdles traditionally encountered by residents of low and moderate income (LMI) communities and small businesses looking to start-up or scale-up. The Loan Fund will also provide its customers with technical assistance in various forms including, but not limited to, financial literacy training, housing workshops, business plan development, and cash-flow management.

One Solar Coast

One Solar Coast is a coalition proposing to use a portion of the $1.2 (or more) billion in BP oil spill Settlement money coming to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to put solar panels on public buildings across the Coast, creating lasting good by writing down the cost of utilities for all taxpayers, saving already strained public sector budgets, and seeding much needed local jobs in a 21st century growth industry.

Cherokee Concerned Citizens

This group represents a community located in Pascagoula, Mississippi affected by daily exposure to toxic pollution due to its close location to the Bayou Cassotte Industrial Park. Community members and allies have been advocating since 2014 for the enforcement of city, state and federal regulations to hold their toxic neighbors accountable for the health of this low to moderate income community.

Bridge of Faith

Our Bridges of Faith (BOF) Coalition was formed in November 2017 by 20 religious leaders looking to use their leadership roles in their communities to promote racial healing. Through this program we will 1) Develop new and authentic relationships among religious leaders, 2) Create a team of religious healers using the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s model of Truth and Racial Healing Transformation (TRHT), and 3) Increase collaboration opportunities among religious leaders of different denominations and ethnicities.

Turkey Creek Environmental Literacy Project

We successfully implemented a Water Quality Education and Leadership Development program serving 20 African-American students (5th – 8th grade). Turkey Creek EJ is Steps’ first program targeting youth, and it has been a growing experience for our organization. We are excited to continue to work to develop the next generation of Environmental Justice advocates, and we hope we can continue to diversify our youth leadership program in 2019. Students have learned about:
• The History of Turkey Creek, a historically black community
• The Clean Water Act and what it means for their community
• The benefits of healthy watersheds
• Point and non-point pollution sources
• Strategies for reducing pollution
• The best storm water management practices

Protecting Wetlands in North Gulfport (Butch Ward Development Project)

Since 2011, Steps has led a campaign against the Port Expansion project that diverted $600 million from housing recovery money to expand the port with a promise to create thousands of jobs that have yet to be created. As part of this work, the Port Campaign Coalition has also effectively stopped development projects that threaten the flood protection of historically African American communities in North Gulfport. Also, as a result of the Port Campaign Coalition’s efforts, the Port of Gulfport agreed to participate in the Green Marine program.