Who We Are

Stepping Stones is a not-for-profit organization registered in Shanghai, China.

Stepping Stones was founded in 2006 in order to organize volunteers to teach English in Shanghai’s primary schools for migrants in response to requests from school principals, who struggled to provide a reasonable standard of English teaching to their students.

English is one of the three core subjects in the Chinese school curriculum, and the one that poses most challenges to rural and migrant children. The majority of these children do not make it to senior high school, and only a small handful are able to make the grade to attend university. Improvement of basic education is the key to helping children from rural areas to attend senior high school and university, and thereby improve the future prospects of rural families.

English level is therefore the biggest differentiator between urban and rural Chinese children, and this above all perpetuates the gap in educational and employment opportunities.

Shanghai benefits from a large expatriate and local English-speaking community, many of whom are eager for meaningful volunteering opportunities. Stepping Stones was founded to match this rich resource to a real need in the community. Stepping Stones recruits, trains, coordinates, and supports hundreds of volunteers to teach thousands of students in dozens of migrant schools and community centers in Shanghai and other parts of China.

Stepping Stones is proud that classes taught by our volunteers have been proven to increase students exam results, increase their confidence and interest in English, better prepare students for their key examinations, and expose youth to cross-cultural programming and the virtues of volunteerism.

Over the years, Stepping Stones has expanded its field of activity. It now carries out a wide range of programs that focus on children’s education and health.

 Our Programs

 English Teaching Programs

 Other Programs

 Our Vision

  • Stepping Stones’ vision is equal access to a quality education and general welfare for all children in China.

 Our Mission

  • Stepping Stones’ mission is to improve the education and general welfare of disadvantaged children in China.

 Our Program Objectives

  • To increase students’ confidence and self-esteem;
  • To optimise students’ access to better quality education and work opportunities in the future;
  • To connect communities to promote inter-cultural understanding;
  • To promote responsible and high impact volunteering


October 2006 – Stepping Stones’ work begins under Loving Heart Association. 3 volunteers begin to teach at Aixin School for migrants in Shanghai Minhang.

March 2007 – Stepping Stones hosts its first volunteering weekend in rural China

May 2008– Stepping Stones gets its name!

October 2008 – First eye care program at Jinhu School in Minhang

February 2009 – First major donation allows Stepping Stones to hire its first full-time Program Coordinator

July 2009 – Stepping Stones launches its first Summer program

March 2012 – Stepping Stones secures funding from Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation

December 2013 – Stepping Stones is registered as a non-profit organisation in Shanghai

July 2015 – Stepping Stones begins teacher training in Shanghai migrant schools

June 2016 – Stepping Up is launched – a new digital literacy and life skills training program

September 2016Videolink English teaching begins

September 2017 Videolink Teacher Training begins

June 2018 Stepping Stones’ Founder awarded British Empire Medal

March 2020 Home Classroom Program begins