Our Story

StepUp Wilmington was founded as Phoenix Employment Ministry in 2003 by the Rev. Don Skinner. During our initial decade of work, we hosted monthly “Orientations” to train and partner with 10 job seekers a month. In 2013, we began partnering with one of the leading job placement organizations in NC, StepUp Ministry in Raleigh. Through this collaboration came stronger programming, an emphasis on data tracking, increased capacity and a clearer vision of what could be achieved in Wilmington. In 2015, Phoenix Employment Ministry integrated the operations of Hometown Hires, a program of the United Way founded by Ben David and Chip Mahan, becoming Phoenix Hometown Hires. For the first time in the organization’s history, 100 jobs were placed in a single year, 104 to be exact. Over the next year, we placed 171 jobs, setting the bar even higher. In January 2018 Phoenix Hometown Hires changed its name to StepUp Wilmington to reflect its commitment to collaboration with StepUp NC and set a four-year goal to place 1,000 new jobs by 2022. Today, StepUp Wilmington continues the mission of its founders, though on a much greater scale and with better tools, providing employment opportunities, training and hope to men and women throughout the Cape Fear region.

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