Our mailing address:  PO Box 4212, Chattanooga TN 37405

Click here for March 2016 Progress Report


A Step Ahead Foundation Chattanooga is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit entity. The organization’s mission is to make sure that all women can get long-term, reversible birth control so they can plan their pregnancies and their futures.  We do not tell women when they should get pregnant or how many children they should have. But when a woman is seeking birth control, we want her to know about the most effective (and fully reversible) methods. Those methods are the IUD and the implant. They last three, five, or ten years depending on the method selected.

Take away the barriers of knowledge, cost and transportation, and women can plan their pregnancies and their futures. We tell women about our services, pay for whatever isn’t covered by other means, and provide free transportation to appointments. Everything is handled through our 24-hour call center. 423-265 STEP (7837)

We’re modeled on a program founded in Memphis by Judge Claudia Haltom. In her 17 years on the bench, Haltom saw hundreds of cases of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and delinquency stemming from people who became parents before they felt socially,  emotionally, or financially ready.  Chattanooga is the first city to replicate the highly successful Memphis model.

With your support, we’ve connected  almost 500 Hamilton County women with long-acting, reversible birth control
and educated  thousands more about these methods.

Access to the most effective birth control means:

Fewer unplanned pregnancies
Reduction in poverty rates
Higher graduation rates
Lower pre-term births
Lower infant mortality rates
Greater prosperity for all Tennesseans

Make a tax-deductible donation to help women plan their pregnancies and their futures.





Our Team

birth control

Our team is comprised of Rachel Schulson (executive director), Susan Vandergriff (operations manager), and some terrific consultants, contractors, volunteers, and advisors. We are humbled by the support we’ve gotten from the Chattanooga community. We couldn’t do it without you!

Board of Directors
Board Members

Becky Barnes, RN
Administrator, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department

Susu Brock
Community Volunteer

Heather DeGaetano
Managing Director, Causeway

Shannon Edmondson
Development & Communications Officer, Public Education Foundation

Ione Farrar
Community Health Planner, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department

Katherlyn Geter
Program Manager/Outreach & Enrollment/Navigation Erlanger Health System Community Health Centers

Dr. Kathleen Hunt
Pediatrician, Children’s Hospital at Erlanger

Carol Johnson
Director of Resident Services, Chattanooga Housing Authority

Walter Leinberger
Director, Procurement Operations, Unum

MJ Levine
Community Volunteer

Stefanie Mansueto
Vice President Commercial Banking, JPMorgan Chase

Jeremy Scruggs
Manager of Member Education and Advocacy, BlueCross BlueShield

Caitlin Studer
Development, Baylor School

Rebecca Suttles
Director of Scholarships, Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga

Dr. Vonda Ware
Women’s Health-OB/GYN, Cherokee Health Systems



Board of Directors
Executive Committee

President Fran Martini, RN, BSN, MBA
Director, Government Clinical Programs, BlueCross BlueShield

President-Elect Alicia Oliver
Counsel, BlueCross BlueShield

Treasurer Sarah Ross
Assistant Controller, Baylor School

Secretary Tamara Hines
Program Manager, Customer Strategy and Support, External Relations, TVA


A Step Ahead Foundation Chattanooga eliminates the barriers to the most effective contraception with a simple approach:

  • 24/7 Call Center (423-265-STEP or 7837)
  • Free transportation
  • Partnership with medical facilities
  • Coverage of all costs not covered by other means

We cover only the cost of long-acting, reversible contraceptives, known as LARCs. The are the three-year IUDs (Skyla and Liletta ), five-year IUD (Mirena), the ten-year IUD (ParaGard) and the three-year subdermal implant (Nexplanon).

Why only long-acting? More than half of women with an unintended pregnancy were using contraception, but were using it inconsistently or incorrectly. According to ACOG (The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), LARCs have the highest rates of continuous use and effectiveness among all reversible contraceptives.




No Cost

Coverage of all costs not paid for by private insurance, TennCare, Title X funding, or other programs


Free transportation to partner clinics by private transportation


Medical Partners

We partner with these medical facilities committed to long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs):

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Dept
(Four locations: Third Street, Soddy-Daisy, Birchwood, and Ooltewah)

Cherokee Health Systems

Caring Choice Women’s Center (Erlanger  location)

Clínica Médicos

Call Center

24/7 Call Center for information, to make appointments, and arrange transportation:


423-265-STEP (7837)





Our Purpose

In September 2014, A Step Ahead Foundation Chattanooga began funding  long-term, reversible birth control and providing a 24 hour call center and free transportation to appointments. We have since ensured that 400 women received long-acting, reversible birth control and educated 1500 women about IUDs and implants.

Why Does it Matter?

  • Of the 4,491 births in Hamilton County in 2014:
    • 30% were to women living in poverty
    • 41% were to single mothers
    • 40% were to mothers with a high school degree or less

Consider this

  • The teen birth rate has declined significantly among younger teens, although it is still significantly higher in the U.S. than in other industrialized nations.
  • Three of 10 teens who drop out of high school cite pregnancy as the reason.
  • Older teens (18-19) and those in their 20’s account for the highest rates of unintended or mistimed pregnancies.
  • 38% of female students who drop out of community college say pregnancy or having a baby is the reason.
  • In a 2013 study, 11% of active-duty 18- to 44-year-old women from all branches of the military reported having had an unplanned pregnancy in the previous year.
  • The consequences? Plans derailed, reduced  lifetime earnings, and, in some cases, continuation of generational poverty.

Dollars and Cents

  • Nearly 68% of Hamilton County’s unintended pregnancies are publicly funded
  • Hamilton County pays an estimated $16.8 million annually in public expenditures for unintended births
  • Taxpayers save up to $6 for every dollar spent for family planning services
  • “Where were you four babies ago?” – said by a woman upon hearing about A Step Ahead Foundation Chattanooga from our Community Outreach Manager

    A Step Ahead Chattanooga Partner
  • “Prevention is the one thing we can all agree on. Everybody wins when women have babies when they feel that they are ready to have them. For me, giving to A Step Ahead [Foundation Chattanooga] was a no-brainer.”

    A Step Ahead Chattanooga Supporter
  • “Why do I give to A Step Ahead Foundation Chattanooga? Because what you do just makes sense. Do we really want a few hundred dollars to stop a woman from getting birth control that works?


    A Step Ahead Chattanooga Supporter
  • “I’m proud to support a program that will make such a difference in the lives of young women. A Step Ahead Foundation Chattanooga will help women plan their pregnancies in the context of the goals they want to achieve.”  – Ruth S. Holmberg


    Community Leader


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© 2014 A Step Ahead Foundation Chattanooga. All Rights reserved.