Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly Paige.
Hi Kimberly, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Law in Carbondale, Illinois, for two years and interned two summers at St. Clair County Government Center. I always knew that upon completion, I wanted to help the underserved community experiencing legal issues that would negatively impact their future. This journey took a bend in the road, but the vision of starting a non-profit that served low-income and underserved community members in St. Louis, Missouri, never changed. I began researching what a holistic legal resource organization that subsidized their clients’ legal fees would look like. The more I studied, the more I found that I needed to partner with other organizations to help my clients that may need mental health services, adequate housing, gainful employment, and youth mentorship programs. In 2017, I enrolled in a Doctorate of Public Administration program at Walden University, and the formation of A Step Above Legal Resource Services Inc began. I thought it would be more beneficial to wait until I completed my doctorate program before introducing “A Step Above” to the community. However, as I spent time in various communities, I saw that many families needed legal help. I had to hire a public defender to represent themselves or could not complete the process because they couldn’t afford to hire a private attorney. I knew I couldn’t wait any longer and needed to move immediately. In August 2021, I began creating documents to start making “A Step Above,” a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, and raising funds to begin accepting new clients. In February 2022, I became tax-exempt and started receiving new clients At A Step Above Legal Resource Services Inc.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road during the process. Some of the struggles were after waiting 3 months for my 501(c)3 application to get to an IRS agent, which was denied because I entered the incorrect EIN on the application. This caused a two-month delay in asking for donations and applying for grants. Recently I lost my legal liaison to one of my legal and mental health teams, which caused the progress of some of my client’s cases to halt. I am currently building a new legal and mental health partnership and looking over my client’s cases to see if any deadlines need to be addressed while I partner with more legal professionals.
We’ve been impressed with A Step Above Legal Resource Services Inc., but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Our organization helps low-income community members living in the Metropolitan St. Louis Area who need legal representation or legal advice to obtain a private attorney by subsidizing their legal fees. Our Soar High Legal Program allows clients to consult with a partnering attorney, retain their representation, and pay a percentage of the costs based on the family’s income. We continually work with the clients in the program until they show that our services are no longer needed. We also work with our clients to ensure that there are no other needs that should be addressed that keep them from being positive citizens in the community.
Our Young Gifted and Taught Program work with the youths ages 6-17 whose parents are part of the Soar High Legal Program and are encouraged to participate in our mentoring program. The youth has the opportunity to discover what their gift is and receive training or the opportunity to practice in that particular area. The youth can work with a youth organization, Young Voices With Action. While participating in this program, students are taught and practice respect, discipline, and responsibility to self, family, and community. Our mentors and tutors work closely with our students’ schools, teachers, and parents to identify areas of strength and academic improvement. We help them excel academically in their class work, learn to set personal goals and work hard to achieve them, and become accountable for their behavior during school and in the community.
What was you like growing up?
Growing up, I was an extrovert to the fullest. I love to always be around people that I consider fun people. I enjoyed being in crowds and going to exciting places such as carnivals, parties, amusement parks, and parades. If it spelled excitement, I wanted to be there. I was spontaneous and had no problem making impulsive moves. It appeared to others that I was reckless, but I called it adventurous. I enjoyed playing basketball and watching sports because I like competition. I had a low tolerance for boredom which kept me outside my house unless it was bedtime. I also enjoyed reading books that had a comical feel to them. My childhood was so much fun because my parents allowed me to do what I liked as long as it didn’t hurt me or someone else.
- Instagram: asalegalresourceservices
- Facebook: A Step Above Legal Resource Services Inc.