STEPUP: Competitive Employment Training Program

What is the STEPUP program?

The STEPUP program is an individualized training program designed to showcase the abilities of individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDDs) to gain and/or maintain competitive employment. In this program, individuals learn long term social and job skills through an innovative curriculum created by experienced special educators in both classroom and business environments. STEPUP uses evidence-based techniques to provide individuals with real-world training to assist them in succeeding in today’s competitive employment environment.


What is the program's purpose?

The STEPUP program offers individuals with IDDs the opportunity to continue to build social and vocational skills after graduation. The program’s purpose is to contribute to an increase in overall employment of individuals with IDDs working competitively in the St. Louis or Jefferson County areas with new employment opportunities or more hours for those who are currently employed. 

The STEPUP program teaches the following core social concepts to foster growth and independence that can lead to successful, competitive employment:

  • Coping & Prevention Strategies
  • Reading Social Cues
  • Problem Solving
  • Goal Setting & Planning
  • Professional Language & Behavior
  • Responding to Feedback
  • Understanding Boundaries
  • Self Advocacy & Independence 

Are you eligible to apply for the STEPUP program?

Any individual, 18-35 years old, with an IDD living in St. Louis or Jefferson County who is interested in obtaining or maintaining competitive employment may be eligible to apply for the STEPUP program. In order to successfully access the program’s curriculum, individuals must demonstrate foundational soft and hard skills as defined below:

Soft Skills

Hard Skills

The self-management skills and the social cognitive skills related to working in a community setting including: 

  • Communicating with customers or staff within partner businesses in order to answer questions and provide feedback
  • Identification of basic emotional states in others and self in order to learn more complex skills such as utilizing coping strategies
  • Following directions with minimal supports
  • Participation within group settings in the community without aggressive or physically harmful behavior
  • Participate in service delivery of small groups up to 12 

The specific industry related skills needed to perform specific job duties within a business setting including: 

  • Proficiency in number identification
  • Identifying quantities with numerals
  • Counting with 1:1 correspondence
  • Identifying and counting money for cash transactions
  • Construction of basic emails and word documents 
  • Navigation of technology including word processing programs and email
  • Reading industry related terms in varying forms of print

How do you apply?

Apply today to further your skills and STEPUP into new employment opportunities.

  1. Print the application.
  2. Fill out the application with your information.
  3. Send us your completed application using one of the following methods:
    • Scan in your application and email it to us at,
    • Fax your application to us at 636-227-9650,
    • Or mail the completed, hard copy application to the address below:

The STEPUP Program
179 Gaywood Drive
Manchester, MO 63021

If you have any questions about the application process or the STEPUP program, please reach out to us. You can contact Cat Woerner at 636-227-5666 ex. 1115, or email us at stepup@lafayetteindustries.comApply now to join us in learning the long term social and vocational skills that will give you an edge up in today’s competitive employment environment.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Any individual, 18-35 years old, with an IDD residing in the St. Louis or Jefferson County area.

STEPUP is designed for individuals who have exited high school and are interested in obtaining competitive employment.

No, the program is free of charge for individuals with an IDD living in the St. Louis or Jefferson County area.

Yes, there is an enrollment interview to determine your interests, career goals, and learning needs.

The STEPUP program is one to two years in length depending on what works best for you. The program duration is based on your employment history, career goals, and current learning needs. Through the interview process and initial assessments, you and the STEPUP team will discuss whether the one-year program or the two-year program is a better fit for you.

The STEPUP program offers flexible, block scheduling for individuals. Throughout the four 12-week sessions, you choose a three-hour block to learn skills in a classroom environment and a four-hour block to apply these skills in a work environment each week. Options for classroom training blocks are offered on Mondays or Tuesdays, and options for practical, work experience blocks are offered on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays. During the program, you will have the opportunity to choose which blocks fit into your schedule each week. 

In the STEPUP program, you gain practical work experiences at local businesses in the hospitality and business administration industries.

No. Individual participants are responsible for securing transportation to and from all scheduled services. 

Yes. Contact us to learn how a customized schedule can be developed.

Have more questions?

Contact us for more information at 636-227-5666: Cat Woerner ex. 1115 or Stacey Elster ex. 1110. Email us at