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Empowering one life at a time, to reach, transform, and elevate the community through love and building character.


  • Read our latest Annual Report here!
  • Over the past year, our center has grown immensely as we extend our reach into the community and connect with new partners. 
  • Our overall organizational income increased by 75% compared to previous year's growth of 30%.
  • We acquired our first state contract and became licensed as a community service agency and a specialty behavioral health provider under Cenpatico.
  • Operated our first during-school-time activity as part of Sunnyside School District's Star Academy High School.
  • Grew our staff from 5 full time staff members to over 12 full time members plus over 10 AmeriCorps members.

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  •  97% parent satisfaction with overall services of Higher Ground and outcomes with their students
  • 94% of our students are satisfied with Higher Ground services and enjoy being part of Higher Ground.
  • 90% of our students are physically more active after joining Higher Ground.
  • 88% of parents observed that their children have better control over their emotions after one year at Higher Ground
  • 87% of our students learned values regarding self-respect, peer respect, and community contribution
  • 82% of parents observed that their children have better conflict resolution skills after one year at Higher Ground
  • 81% of our students improved their overall academics based on their grades, homework completion, and planning for their education
  • 81% of our students learned to improve their skills on perseverance based on learning the values of hard work, not quitting, and finding self-encouragement.
  • 62% of our students learned emotion management as measured by the decreases in loss of temper, impulsivity, and negative incidents at home and school; and evidence of better emotion control.

Other outcomes, awards, and partnerships

  • In addition to the above outcomes, Higher Ground also boasts one of the highest daily attendance rates out of all youth programs in Tucson with an average of 75% daily attendance rate (compared to most after school programs that range between 12% - 60%). 
  • Over 90% of Higher Ground students attend programming at least 3 times a week.
  • Between last year and this year, we retained over 90% of our students, and this pattern has continued for the last 3 years here at Wakefield. 
  • Over 14,700 volunteer hours logged.
  • Read our 2015 - 2016 Annual Report here.
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Organizational highlights

  • Our program scored higher than the national average in The Youth Program Quality Assessment (PQA)®, a validated instrument designed to evaluate the quality of youth programs and identify staff training needs. It assesses Safe Environment, Supportive Environment, Youth and Adult Interaction, and Youth Engagement. This assessment is done by certified external assessors.
    •  In a perfect score of 5, we have an average score of 4.4 with over 63 different categories measured.   The national average score is 3.06
    • In Youth Leadership Engagement, we scored a 4 while the national average score is 2.63. 



  • Over the last 6 years, 86% graduated highschool. We did this by tracking 43 students who joined Higher Ground and are now over 18 years old. 
    • 37 of them graduated high school,
    • At least 33 of them completed it in 4 years.
    • Of the six that have not yet graduated, 3 of them are enrolled in our re-engagement center, on track to graduating high school.
  • 79% of kids tested on grit increased their baseline grit score at the end of the school year, based on University of Pennsylvania’s Lee Angela Duckworth’s Grit Test.
  • 98% of our kids are more physically active

  • 94% of our students improved their grades

  • 94% of our students felt that they have had the opportunity to help others at HG

  • 90% of our students stated that they learned not to quit as often

  • 88% of our students felt better about themselves and other people around them

  • 81% of our students stated they learned to control their emotions better

  • 80% of our kids experienced how to plan and lead activities

  • 66% of our students stated they learned to control their talking back to teachers and parents

  • Click here for full detailed report on student outcomes

To read some of the personal stories of this year click here.

Partnerships and awards

  • We were selected as the first Re-Engagement Center in Tucson by Youth On The Rise partnership. Youth on the Rise (YOTR) leverages collective cross-sector and community-based leadership and investments of Pima County to improve pathways to education and employment for opportunity youth ages 16-19 who have dropped out of high school. This partnership consists of over 40 different organizations in Pima County.
  • We are part of the Executive Leadership for the Mayor's Community School's Initiative, a partnership to increase the high school graduation rates in 8 high schools in Tucson.
  • We won the 2015 Child Abuse Prevention Award as an organization
  • We were nominated and are in the finals for the 2015 Copper Cactus Award for the "small non-profit" category.
  • We took 3rd place in the Kid's Team Division in the Arizona State during the Grand Canyon Open for Jiujitsu
  • We partnered with the University of Arizona College of Education to help develop a pathway to leadership for the the College of Education students to help prepare them for engaging with the community and becoming career ready.



Organization Highlights

  • We have been featured in the US Department of Education website for our methods and outcomes, click here to read more.

  • Was featured by the AZ Department of Education for our methods on youth engagement, click here to read more.

  • Our jujutsu team is #4 in the World Kid’s No Gi Division in the Sport Jiujitsu International Federation. Our jujutsu team consists of several students who have never competed before or even joined sports prior to joining Higher Ground.

  • Higher Ground moved to Wakefield Middle School (click here to watch the video) in order to expand our program and fill a great community need. 

Student Outcomes

  • 90% of our students improved their grades

  • 81% of parents stated that their children have displayed skills that reflected grit and resilience ever since attending Higher Ground. These character traits are the only common indicator for success among students.

  • 100% of the parents felt that their children increased in confidence

  • 83% of our students learned and experienced things that taught them to give back to the community

  • 65% learned to control their emotions better in school and at home

  • 85% became more physically active

  • 81% felt happier ever since coming to Higher Ground

Partnerships and Awards

  • Our first annual Christmas party with Gospel Rescue Mission and the Well Worship Center took place, serving 1500 kids with toys. To learn more,please go here. 

  • We have formed partnerships with Tucson Youth Development and Pima Vocational High School to bring 9 student workers to Higher Ground. 

  • Over 60 UofA volunteers.

  • Partnership with La Frontera to co-locate and have behavioral facility on site.

  • Partnership with Hollinger K-8 school to form strategic partnerships.

  • Several awards and accolades from the community for the work of Higher Ground.

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Organization Highlights

Student Outcomes

  • 93% of our students improved their grades
  • 81% increased their self esteem
  • 72% learned leadership skills  
  • 70% of our students learned a new skill at Higher Ground
  • 87% of our students developed healthier habits.  
  • 73% of our students improved their social skills.
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  • We teamed up with Undisputed
  • We began holding Financial Prosperity Classes and participated in free income tax assistance workshops in partnership with United Way. 
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