Boston's Higher Ground

Supporting Boston's children and families to reach for their potential!

aka Higher Ground Boston   |   Roxbury, MA   |  http://www.higherground-boston.org/web/

Mission

Higher Ground is a catalyst for collective action that works with residents and partners to achieve excellent outcomes in education and to promote the health and well-being of children and families in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.

Notes from the nonprofit

Boston is a city poised to be truly great - yet we are weighed down by chronic issues deeply rooted in our history and a fragmented social service sector that keeps our city “resource rich, but impact poor.” Founded in 2010 by renowned Boston social activist and civic leader Hubie Jones, Higher Ground is an experiment in collaboration, authentic community engagement, and accountability. Our results speak for themselves - sustained and focused collaboration, leveraged resources, increased parent voice, and forward movement on homelessness, education, and health equity. Our lever for change is our neighborhood schools - a critical community hub for children and families. Our unique approach asks parents and schools “what do you need?,” then mobilizes a range of stakeholders to solve those issues collectively. The result is improvements with staying power because they were identified by those that know the issue best - the community.

Ruling year info

2010

Principal Officer

Mr. Mossik Hacobian

Deputy Director

Dr. Brandy Brooks

Main address

384 Warren Street, 3rd Floor

Roxbury, MA 02119 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-3660369

NTEE code info

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (S01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (R01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2019, 2018 and 2017.
Register now

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

While more than 1 in 4 (28%) of Boston children live in poverty overall, the concentration is highest in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, where the child poverty rate reaches 42%, the largest concentration of children in poverty in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Early Childhood

In collaboration with Families First, Higher Ground has completed seven 8-week cycles of Parenting Circle for new and expectant parents. More than 90 parents and 100 children have participated in one or more of the seven cycles. The program enables Higher Ground to make connections as early as possible in a child's life. Many parents report that while they appreciate the curriculum and content of the program, they return to the Parenting Circles because of the bond that they have developed with a network of parents experiencing similar challenges. Parents also benefit from access to other services leveraged by Higher Ground and from support as they navigate their way to services intended for them but often difficult to access. Families First is a Cambridge-based nonprofit that provides parenting training and workshops to approximately 4,000 people a year. We plan to continue the Parenting Circle with up to five 8-week cycles per year and support between 50 and 100 parents annually.

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers
Families

Higher Ground began operations in June 2011 by teaming up with the Center for Teen Empowerment (TE) and supported TE to advance a youth development and employment program. Research indicates that it is critical for urban youth aged 14 to 21 to have paid work experiences as part of healthy social development. We launched this effort as a summer pilot in 2011 through the hiring of teenagers and young men and women from our initial impact zone. We continued the program through the 2013-2014 school year by adding an after-school employment component. More than 100 youth have been employed to date and we have reached more than 500 additional youth through events, parties, dialogues and outreach activities. The neighborhood has benefited from increased safety as a result of the community outreach work of the TE Youth Organizers and there is increased understanding and cooperation between police and the community as a result of the dialogues and peace summits they organized.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

Higher Ground Education Initiative has two main elements. We assist local schools to be the best they can be, to become true community assets and attract local households to enroll their children in schools walking distance of their homes. We want parents to have the tools to select the schools - public, charter, parochial or private - that provides children the best possible education.We pursue our mission of community transformation by leveraging capacities of organizations with quality services and connect them to local schools. We focus on education through 4th grade as the GATEWAY to empowering parents to work with administrators and teachers to build first-class educational programs. We see a strong connection between school improvement and community mobilization/neighborhood transformation. Such dynamic mobilization/empowerment will have a ""spill-over"" effect in our primary impact area, leading to eradicating negative environmental conditions and strengthening positive assets.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

We continue to work with Warren Gardens Housing and other area housing communities with focus on safety and support residents in increased engagement in decisions affecting the developments. Several local affordable housing developments are owned by local community development corporations (CDCs). Many of the children that attend local schools live in these developments. The owners and managers of these developments know the demographics of the residents including the ages of the children, both pre-school and in school. Community-based owners of this housing have an interest in early childhood and educational support for the residents in their developments. We coordinate efforts with Nuestra Comunidad and its Mission 180 initiative, support local coalition and police to improve safety and reduce violence and continue as active member of the Place-Based Initiatives Community of Practice and share best practices, data and develop common outcome measurements.

Population(s) Served
Adults

We are committed to help residents in our impact area, especially the families whose children are enrolled in the three target schools and child care hubs, secure a medical home and ensure that they have regular, sustained primary health and dental care. Our efforts in the health area will be integral to all our early childhood development and education initiatives and not a separate activity. Every participant in our program completes an intake form that includes data about medical care and health insurance. We will use our capacity with our full-time Navigator/Advocate, collaboration with Families First, Teen Empowerment, local health centers and the Brigham & Women's Passageway Program to ensure that residents in our impact zone and the families whose children attend the target schools and child care centers are safe, have healthy diets and have access to the highest quality health care available within the community and in the Boston region.

Population(s) Served
Families

In collaboration with ABCD and Nurtury we support local child care hubs and children and families already receiving child care services or in need of quality child care. We see schools and child care centers as support centers for families with children starting at birth. We hope to open school buildings to playgroups, parent meetings, parent education and community events. We are mapping where all the local children go for child care and will use that data to determine which entity is already most engaged with local families and likely the best partner to serve as the clearing house for parents seeking quality child care. We work with ABCD and Nurtury to target subsidies to families served by Higher Ground, place children in ABCD and Nurtury centers where there are openings, develop and implement school readiness curriculum for children in our Parenting Circles, and increased access to training for local residents to qualify for family child care licensing and certification.

Population(s) Served
Families
Children and youth

Where we work

Awards

Keepers of the Garden 2012

Warren Gardens Housing Cooperative

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of low-income families housed in affordable, well-maintained units as a result of the nonprofit's efforts

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Families, Homeless people

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This is the number of homeless FAMILIES with children attending 21 Boston Public Schools that receive housing services and are housed as a result of Higher Ground's work with partner organizations.

Number of children and youth who have received access to stable housing

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Homeless people

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This is the number of homeless CHILDREN attending Boston Public Schools that receive housing services and are housed as a result of Higher Ground's work with our partner organizations.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Education: Higher Ground’s overarching focus is to improve educational outcomes in our community. Since its founding in 2010, Higher Ground has focused on addressing the needs of children and families in its target area in sections of the Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods in the heart of Boston. Based on early conversations with residents, local organizational leaders and educators we become involved in areas of education, housing and health that are often addressed separately and are less effective due to the siloed natures of providers in the three sectors. Since 2014, our focus has been on early childhood development and education through middle school. We have connected the schools to programs and resources available at little or no cost that complement their curriculum and offering and seek to mitigate the impacts of poverty, homelessness, violence and trauma faced to a greater degree by inner-city residents.

Our work with schools has included parents, teachers, principals, BPS and the BTU. We support parents to increase their engagement in local school based on evidence that greater parent involvement increases accountability and improves educational outcomes. This involves a threefold approach consisting of 1) building a strong network of neighborhood schools; 2) identifying and addressing specific health inequities in children and families we serve; and 3) eliminating homelessness.

School Network
Higher Ground’s School Network consists of one early childhood education center, Crispus Attucks Children’s Center (CACC) and three elementary schools, Higginson, Higginson Lewis, and Ellis. The combined enrollment at these four schools is 1,670 students.

Roxbury Dorchester Mattapan (RDM) Parent Coalition
The RDM Parent Coalition provides a space for parents in the Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan community to discuss and share ideas related to improving their school communities. This collaboration also involves teachers, and administrators from local schools in the RDM area.

Resilient Families Surround-Care Coalition
The “Surround-Care” Coalition consists of nine non-profit organizations, three neighborhood schools - the Higginson K0-2 Full Inclusion, Higginson-Lewis and David Ellis -- and Crispus Attucks Children’s Center (CACC). We have committed to work together to improve the health and well-being of nearly 1,200 children and their families who attend these schools as well as the children and their families throughout the surrounding neighborhood.

Family-Led Stability Pilot
Family-Led Stability Pilot (FLSP) partners consisting of four non-profit organizations and five public and government entities have launched an innovative collaborative to house homeless families attending Boston schools and achieve quicker and more sustainable results. We leverage capacities of schools, housing, health and other service providers to house homeless families with children in Boston schools, reduce family homelessness, improve educational outcomes for the children, and support families to achieve their self-defined social and economic goals.

We are confident we can achieve these outcomes based on results of our work in recent years as summarized below:

Early Childhood Development
1. Five years ago, the Crispus Attucks Children’s Center (CACC) was under-enrolled, operating at a deficit and at risk of shutting down.
2. Starting in the spring of 2015, Higher Ground supported CACC to improve its facilities by securing close to $4 million in grants, loans and equity investments and implement much-needed capital improvements of its facilities.
3. Assisted CACC with fundraising, executive support and board development that has resulted in a major change in the organization’s financial position from chronic deficits to a strong financial position.
4. Assisted CACC in securing a city of Boston Universal Pre-K award that will help improve the quality of its curriculum for 4-year old children, bring more resources to the Center, reduce cost of pre-K education for families and improve compensation for qualified faculty.
5. As a result, one of the largest single-site infant and toddler centers in the city of Boston that was suffering from deficits, under-enrollment and at risk of shutting down four years ago is now thriving and has a waiting list of families that want to enroll their children at the Center.

Homelessness Prevention in Local Schools
1. Higher Ground helped launch an innovative collaborative pilot to eliminate homelessness in local schools.
2. The Family-Led Stability Pilot (FLSP) formally launched in January 2018 and includes BPS, Mayor’s Walsh’s Education Cabinet, BHA, DND, City Councilor Essaibi-George, DSNI, Project Hope and New Lease for Homeless Families.
3. During the first 36 months of the pilot January 2018 through December 2020, FLSP housed 143 families with 222 students in seven target schools with combined enrollment of 3,000 students.
4. Our goal is to house the estimated remaining 48 families with 75 students in the seven schools by the end of the current school year and lay the groundwork for scaling up the pilot to more of the 125 schools in Boston.

Higher Ground will accomplish these objectives by continuing to be inclusive and a community-based connector organization. We will:
1. Support stakehiolders at local schools by seeking their advice on how best to meet the needs of the students and families they serve and support their overall wellbeing, reduce stress and be best prepared to teach;
2. Support school principals, teachers and staff by connecting them to available programs and resources and address challenges faced by families with less advantages and economic means compared to wealthier neighborhoods and communities;
3. Continue to build a strong network of partners that are prepared to deepen their collaboration and improve services and achieve better results, avoid silo behavior and hold themselves and each other accountable for performance and collective impact.
4. Demonstrate the effectiveness of a distributed system of support for schools. Higher Ground is one new example of place-based intermediary organizations that support and advocate for target area schools and mobilize parents and surrounding community residents to advocate for their neighborhood schools.
5. Following meetings with stakeholders, we recognized that 3 local schools serve mostly the same community and could benefit from collaborating with each other and with support from Higher Ground and other area partners. Meetings with principals and teachers over the past several years as well as advocacy for specific actions impacting each school demonstrated the benefits of such collaboration and support from a strong neighborhood partner such as Higher Ground. We also developed a strong level of trust between educators and parents of the local schools that led to a planning proposal to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Children’s Heath Equity initiative and securing a $150,000 planning grant. In December of 2020, we were awarded a $1 million implementation grant to support local children and their families using schools as the connectors to the families.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    A place-based organization, 100% of the work done by Higher Ground is focused on BIPOC residents in and around census tract 817. We collaborate with dedicated educators in the transformation of underperforming local schools in our catchment area that families rely on to set students on a trajectory of success in their education and life. Higher Ground listens to five "voices" in our community: students/youth, parents, educators, community residents, and partner organizations.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Over the past few years, parents and educators in our community revealed through surveys and during virtual and in-person gatherings that there was a need for more quality out-of-school-time programming. In direct response to what we heard from our constituents, Higher Ground started a Summer Learning Academy in 2020 that has occurred for the past three consecutive years, and in January of 2022, we launched our Afterschool Program. One highlight of our out-of-school-time programming is that 100% of the staff hired since 2020 for these programs has been BIPOC, representing the diverse community that we serve.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    We have discovered over the years that sharing honest and candid feedback with our constituents builds trust, and as that trust has grown, news about our programming spreads organically by word of mouth. Earlier this year (2022) we experienced some conflict with Boston Public Schools, mostly as a result of misinformation and misinterpretation of our work. Parents and educators that trusted us provided powerful public testimony on behalf of Higher Ground at School Committee meetings and helped to resolve the conflict.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

Boston's Higher Ground
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.

Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Boston's Higher Ground

Board of directors
as of 10/24/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Charlie Titus

UMass Boston

Term: 2010 -


Board co-chair

Mr. Wayne Ysaguirre

Matthew Cammack

CP Global Partners

Shirley Carrington

Carrington Company

Arthur Choo

Choo and Company Inc.

Randall Davis

Randall S. Davis & Company LLP

Charlie Titus

U. Mass Boston

Leverett Wing

Lee Wing Management

Arthur Gerald

12th Baptist Church

Renee Simmons

Higginson Lewis K-8 School

Sophia Bishop-Rice

Boston's Bridge to Excellence

Ericka Florence

Warren Gardens Resident

Carol Miranda

Tree of Life Coalition

Gerard Cox

Independent Consultant

Clara Arroyo

Boston Plan for Excellence

Hubie Jones

Founder

Jason Perry

HubSpot

Richard Chang

Boston Public Schools

Ron Bell

Jose Lopez

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/21/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Female

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

No data