Stepping Higher

``An organization dedicated to the restoration, development and establishment of cultural and personal achievement for all.``

The Beginning

A Faith-based and Behavioral Health Academy

Stepping Higher Inc. (SHI) recently entered into partnership with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, Behavioral Health Services to develop and offer the Stepping Higher Faith-based and Behavioral Health Academy, a training and certification program for faith-based leaders and behavioral health providers.

Negative attitudes (prejudice) and negative responses (discrimination) can compromise a person’s perception of worth and cause feelings of deep shame (stigma).

The Academy promotes mutual appreciation of the role of spirituality in positive mental health and how faith – based and behavioral health professionals can work together to promote community wellness.

What Changed

SDSU’s Social Policy Institute provided technical assistance in the design and delivery of The Academy, particularly for African American and Latinx populations, who are often underserved.

In The End

To date, Social Policy Institute has assisted in the revision and redesign of SHI’s certification program as well as assisted in the development of tools to reduce stigma and increase access to behavioral health services.

For more information about Stepping Higher, contact Lori Clarke via email:

Social Policy Institute


SPI's Executive Leadership brings subject matter expertise in their respective fields as well as a combined track record for innovation and quality.

Steve Hornberger

Steve Hornberger is the Co-Director of the Social Policy Institute (SPI) since 2014 administering a number of statewide contracts.

Lori Clarke

As Co-Director, Lori brings innovation and excellence to design/development and facilitation of insight and action.

Stories of Success

What Our Partners Say

Elizabeth Estes

“The Social Policy Institute’s Director, Steve Hornberger, has been an integral part of Breaking Barriers development and implementation. The Social Policy Institute team has brought excellence and innovation to support Breaking Barriers’ work across systems to increase and enhance the well-being of California’s children and youth.”

Elizabeth Estes

Founder, Breaking Barriers
Robin Jenkins

“San Diego State University’s Social Policy Institute has been a highly valued partner for the State of California and an array of organizations seeking to effectively translate evidence-supported science into well-designed public policies for broad social benefits. One example is through our National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives and SDSU collaborations. As well, SPI’s work with county-level Prevention teams and their articulation of best practices with and for Child Abuse Prevention Councils across the state of California has been impressive.”

Robin Jenkins

Associate Director, The Impact Center, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill
Dr. Rachelle Benson

“The entire team at the Social Policy Institute brought subject matter expertise and cultural humility to the revision and redesign of our Faith-based and Behavioral Health Training Academy! Our trainers appreciated the validation for what they already know and can do; coaching to raise their game to a higher level of performance; and the high-quality, evidence-based materials.”

Dr. Rachelle Benson

Vice President, Stepping Higher Inc.

Stepping Higher Posts & Resources

Access the Social Policy Institute Blog to learn more.
HOPE Building Block Series #2: Social and Civic Engagement
Chapin Hall Evidence Based Programs Guide
New CDPH Prevention Resources and Reports
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