About Us


Step Up Suncoast, formerly known as Manatee Community Action Agency, Inc. and Manatee Opportunity Council, Inc., was incorporated in 1968 as a nonprofit corporation pursuant to Florida law and was designated by the Governor as the community action agency for its service area.

Step Up Suncoast received its first grant of $90,000 in 1965 and was administered by Suncoast Progress of St. Petersburg, Florida. This relationship was maintained until the incorporation of the Agency in 1968.

Since its beginning in 1968, Step Up Suncoast has grown from a summer project of serving 510 children with 34 staff members and a $90,000 budget to over 10,000 services annually, 225 staff members and an annual budget of $12,000,000.

What is a Community Action Agency?

Nationally, Community Action Agencies were initiated as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and approved by Congress in the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. CAAs are intended to focus on self-sufficiency within the low-income population. Today, over 1,000 CAAs exist across the country providing preschool programs, utility assistance, job training, and other community initiatives.

Core Values
Inspiring Hope. Improving Lives. Strengthening Communities.

The core values influence the culture and public image of Step Up Suncoast as an effective community-based, anti-poverty agency serving a wide variety of individuals, families, and their communities.

Honest & Integrity: Step Up Suncoast has the highest level of integrity in its governance, administrative, service, and outreach activities; we demonstrate strong moral principles, truthfulness, and uprightness; we tie these activities directly to our mission and we maintain and report our records accurately.

Responsibility: Step Up Suncoast finds solutions that meet the needs of people with low incomes and their families through direct service or referrals to other providers of services. We believe we are in the position to make something positive happen by being accountable from the inside out, while being reliable and trustworthy.

Respect: Step Up Suncoast encourages each person to take control over his/her own life, and help shape this based upon what is important to each person. We admire individuals and families who desire to generate change in their lives, and we respect the role that families have in helping to shape these choices as well.