The Union County Student Training and Enrichment Program is a day-long summit that invites high school sophomores and juniors from throughout Union County to participate in hands-on activities focused on leadership, personal growth, and civic engagement.

UC STEP cover photoUC STEP is more than just a student seminar event. Students are given the opportunity to attend breakout sessions focused on personal growth and leadership while collaborating with others to work through the day’s activities. Attendees have the opportunity to participate in workshops such as “You be the Judge,” which focuses on crafting effective elevator speeches, and “How to be an Effective Leader,” which focuses on identifying the diversity, concerns and values of others.

The headline event of UC STEP, the Civic Engagement Challenge, brings students together to brainstorm and create a county-wide community service campaign to be enacted through the County Commissioner Board in connection with Union County students. The service initiative that receives the most votes at UC STEP and via the online poll will become the countywide project undertaken by participating Union County high schools. The school that shows the most involvement, enthusiasm, and creativity for the project is eligible to win the $1,000 START NOW Grant from the Union County Board of County Commissioners.

The 2013 winning community service initiative, “Support 4 Soldiers,” involved a coordinated drive to collect items for care packages to be shipped to our military troops overseas. At the culmination of the campaign, 250 care packages were prepared for our troops in conjunction with Union County’s partner, Bonds of Courage. Please check our “Support 4 Soldiers” link for more information!

The 2014 winning community service initiative, “Donate to Educate”- Schools Supplying Schools, involved a school supply drive throughout Union County. As a result of our joint efforts with the Boys & Girls Club of Union County and Ivy Visions, Inc., we were able to assemble over 200 backpacks! Please check our “Donate to Educate” link for more information!

The 2015 winning community service initiative, “Garments & Gear”- Greatness for Years involved a Countywide drive collecting sports apparel and equipment for less fortunate athletes. As a result of our joint efforts with Ivy Visions, Inc., we were able to help various athletic departments with the donation of sports equipment, homeless shelters with the apparel that was collected, and a basketball league with a new electronic score board that was purchased with funds raised ! Please check our “Garments & Gear” link for more information!

The 2016 winning community service initiative, “Kans 4 Kids”- involved a food drive, a virtual food drive and a “can-struction” project composed of more than 3,500 cans in efforts to help end childhood hunger. The Kans for Kids community service campaign was partly sponsored by Sysco and ShopRite and supported by The Community FoodBank of New Jersey .By the conclusion of the campaign, the Kans 4 Kids campaign collected 6,000 pounds of food for donation to the Community FoodBank. Please check our “Kans 4 Kids” link for more information!

The 2017 winning community service initiative, “Branches Against Bullying”- involved a compliment drive that consisted of 32 trees with over 30,000 compliment leaves in efforts to raise awareness and help end bullying. The Branches Against Bullying community service campaign was supported by Board of County Commissioners and the Warinanco Sports Center. By the conclusion of the campaign, Branches Against Bullying collected over 30,000 positive messages, created a resource guide to end bullying, and designed anti-bullying lawn signs. Please check our “”Branches Against Bullying” link for more information!

The 2018 winning community service initiative, “Link Up For Life -5k”- combined a compliment drive that consisted of over 45,000 links intended to represent support for those who are struggling. The Links were displayed along the 5k course. The Link Up For Life 5k community service campaign was supported by Board of County Commissoners and the generous donations of its’ 5k event sponsors: All Covered, Sysco, KAD & Associates, Unity Bank, Bayway Refinery and Neglia Engineering.  By the conclusion of the campaign, participating high schools were able to fundraise a total of $2,267.00 that benefitted Caring Contact, an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline and listening community serving the central and northern New Jersey community. Caring Contact is based in Westfield. Please check our “Link Up For Life” link for more information!