Higher Ground provides behavioral health and social-emotional learning to critically at-risk youth suffering from the effects of childhood trauma and poverty. In addition to our location at Wakefield Middle School, services are provided in the Tucson and Sunnyside Unified School Districts. 


Youth Development

Higher Ground’s Youth Development program at Wakefield provides behavioral health and social-emotional learning for at-risk youth. Monday through Friday from 2-6:30 pm, students participate in archery, art, basketball, boxing, coding, dance, digital design, drumline, jiu-jitsu, judo, music, outside sports, and robotics--all at no cost to the family. Our student activities are used as a delivery mechanism to teach communication, creative problem solving, emotion management, mindfulness, growth mindset, self-control, and Grit in an environment of inclusion and belonging - an effective method delivery based on the evidence of researchers like Dr. Adele Diamond and Dr. Angela Duckworth.

In School Programs


DAEP -- Through a partnership with TUSD, Higher Ground provides the District Alternative Education Program (DAEP) program for social-emotional learning, utilizing JiuJitsu, Judo, and basketball, along with vocational education to students suspended from school. Sites include Project MORE High School, Doolen Middle School, Magee Middle School, and Southwest Middle School and High School.

Hollinger K-8 - COMING IN 2018-2019 school year: JiuJitsu and Judo with a focus on Social Emotional Learning as an elective.

Higher Ground at STAR -- Higher Ground provides social-emotional learning, vocational education, and college preparation at Star Academic High School. Our successful program has lead Star Academic High School to be recognized in SUSD for having the most improved student attendance.

Community Schools Initiative

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In collaboration with TUSD, SUSD and Arizona Serve, Higher Ground is the lead agency in creating the community-schools infrastructure in Tucson’s high-needs neighborhoods. By providing comprehensive services including health, social services, and family support at individual school sites, we can meet the immediate and long-term needs of children and their families living in poverty so they can succeed, thrive, and eventually give back to the community.

Higher Ground is committed to ensuring that poverty is not a limit or boundary to the aspirations of our youth. We are leading a comprehensive solution to the obstacles that threaten achievement in school and life. Through social-emotional learning and Community Schools, the children of Tucson will have every opportunity to succeed.