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 area 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 the St. Louis County area may be eligible to apply for the STEPUP program. If you answer yes to the following questions, then STEPUP may be the right fit for you:

Can you appropriately respond to basic greetings, questions, and/or directions?

Can you identify basic emotions within yourself and others and then respond accordingly?

Do you manage your personal care and hygiene needs independently?

Can you complete multi-step task with minimal support?

Do you strive to set achievable goals for yourself?

Can you follow current health requirements (e.g., wearing a face mask)?

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Any individual, 18-35 years old, with an IDD residing in the St. Louis 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 IDDs living in the St. Louis 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.

Have more questions?

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

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