Higher Ground started in Mr. Jansen's living room after he met his now wife, who had a 10 year old son at the time. Mr. Jansen began tutoring him, and soon Timmy began inviting his friends over to receive help with their homework because almost all of them were failing or behind in school especially in their reading and arithmetic levels.
In addition, they all had another thing in common.
This defeated attitude is prevalent in our southwest side of Tucson. The stories of the youth in his living room are the stories of majority of the youth in the South side of Tucson –
In addition, we have failing schools in a state considered to be one of the worst in education.
Eventually, Mr. Jansen married Timothy’s mom and he became his son. At that time, he also decided to do something about the youth and our education issues. He talked to our local church, The Well Worship Center and Pistor Middle School and in doing so, Higher Ground was born.
Higher Ground officially started in 2007 at Mission View Assembly. We offered our services free of charge after seeing the community unable to afford a small service fee. The result was overwhelming.
Within 2 years we quickly outgrew the church facility we were using and had: 60 students every day. In addition we had 30 – 50 students in our waiting list without advertising any of our services.
Due to this overwhelming waiting list, Higher Ground reached out to the Pima County Parks and Recreation in late 2010 to propose building a youth center at one of the local parks. This prompted us to become a 501(c)3 organization and meet with different community leaders.
Mr. Jansen and his wife, Ms. Barbie, quit their full time jobs to devote themselves to Higher Ground.
We soon met with Mr. James Fish and some of the leaders of TUSD. TUSD offered a strong partnership that provided 6 classrooms from one of the brand new wings at Valencia Middle School for 2011-2012.
Immediately our program grew from 60 students to 130 students with over 40 students in the waiting list. We maxed out our space and still remained free of charge to the community.
We also expanded our program to provide: homework tutoring, math and reading programs, tackle football for our middle school students, a dedicated boxing team, dance, art, choir, high-school career internships, character development for boys and girls, jujutsu and financial literacy.
Higher Ground is preserving a 70 year old historic landmark at Wakefield Middle School through a partnership with Tucson Unified School District. Higher Ground has created a collaboration with the following organizations:
In the process of expanding Higher Ground Youth Center into becoming Higher Ground Community Resource Center, we moved to Wakefield Middle School. With the closure of Wakefield Middle School, the community was devastated. Due to the school closures, Valencia Middle School will now need all of its classrooms. This prompted us along with TUSD’s partnership to move into Wakefield Middle School, giving us more space and community outreach.
After 5 years of Higher Ground, Timothy, graduated from Cholla High School. His risk factors – divorced family, low income neighborhood, high crime neighborhood, and low performing schools – stated that he is 8 times or more likely to drop out of school. Timothy graduated from college at Christ For the Nations Institute. He fulfilled the Higher Ground definition of success - community contribution. He is now back in Tucson and works at Higher Ground helping reach, transform, and elevate lives. As a Child and Family advocate at Higher Ground he is building relationships with the youth and giving back to the community. Timothy’s story is not unique.