The year 2000 was designated as The Year of the Child by the Presbyterian Church USA. Jeanne Isaacs, former Director of Children’s Education at Independent Presbyterian Church (IPC) expressed interest in creating programming to celebrate and honor the Year of the Child. IPC member Caroline Polson, a teacher in the Birmingham City School System, told Jeanne that if she were going to do anything with children in her classroom it would be tutoring them in reading.
STAIR began in the fall of 2000 as a collaboration, between Independent Presbyterian Church and the Birmingham City School System. The purpose of the program was to establish an after-school tutoring program to help improve reading skills for underserved second graders within the Birmingham area that were not reading on grade level. During its first year, STAIR served 12 students from Avondale and Whatley Elementary schools. 24 volunteer tutors helped make the first year successful. As a result of the work and commitment of the pilot year, STAIR was able to create a sustainable and successful literacy program for second grade students within Birmingham City schools.
STAIR formally incorporated as its own 501(c)(3) entity in 2005, and has continued to experience tremendous growth as demand for the program across the community continues to increase.