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Jansen Azarias

CEO and Co-Founder

"I have guided the formation and growth of Higher Ground from day one through my passion and intellect. After seeing the need in my own family, I decided to start Higher Ground as a way to help kids with their homework. To this day, my wife and two sons serve alongside with me at Higher Ground.

Growing up in a dysfunctional family as a child, I came from the Philippines when I was 18, I understood the need to break poverty mentality and empower youth to pursue their dreams and build a legacy in their community. My heart is closely tied with the kind of youth Higher Ground serves. I share my hobby with the youth by coaching them in martial arts and leading our grappling team to tournaments. My faith in God continues to strengthen and motivate me in my calling.

I want to see this community transformed and see the youth become the culture shaping catalysts of our future, a culture focused on legacy and compassion rather than personal achievement."

About Jansen's Leadership

Jansen has been the driving force in a partnership to help improve school environment and culture between HG and Hollinger, a K-8 TUSD school. In addition, HG has successfully integrated social emotional learning, life coaching, and community-building into the daily curriculum of SUSD’s Star Academy, and is working to continue this work with other surrounding schools and will be expanding this integration into other schools.

Furthermore, Jansen’s leadership has also led to the community schools initiative which integrates Higher Ground into the school model. Community schools is a nationally proven effective strategy that creates a community hub of all the necessary services integrated into the schools itself. Higher Ground will become the provider of all the school’s social service needs so that schools can focus on academic instruction and curriculum. This model will have Higher Ground co-leading the school with the principals to turn schools into a one stop model for students and families. This initiative is currently in 10 schools and both TUSD and SUSD want to expand this to majority of their schools. This impact has the potential to change the school system in Tucson and is in collaboration with Arizona Serve and La Frontera. This initiative has several partners backed by the Mayor’s office along with Pima County.

Jansen’s leadership has also led into opening the first Evening Reporting Center with Pima County Juvenile Court as a main strategy to reduce recidivism in the Pima County Juvenile population.

Currently through its different in-school and out of school programming, HG serves over 2000 youth annually. 3 years ago, Higher Ground was serving 300 students annually.

Jansen also oversees HG’s 100+ regular UofA volunteers and 12 staff members.

In addition, he led his organization to have over 5 different contracts with different organizations in a matter of 2 years totaling to $600,000 of revenue a year.

Mentor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy 2016 Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 40 under 40 Winner National Afterschool Association 2017 Next Generation in Afterschool Honoree 2015 Child Abuse Prevention Award 2014 Youth Leader Award 2013 FBI Community Service Award 2013 Community Leadership Award Judo (Brown Belt) JuJitsu (Purple Belt)

2016 Judo Summer Nationals Novice Champion 2016 Judo Winter Nationals Novice Champion 2017 IBJJF Pan American Bronze Medalist

#1 National Veteran's Athlete for USA Judo 55kg