The Story of

Higher Ground

Boston’s Higher Ground was founded in 2010 by community leader and social activist Hubie Jones. Jones wanted to understand why children and families were not seeing improvements in health and education despite the wealth of resources available in Boston.

He was motivated to learn more after reading a report by Tufts University Professor James Jennings that showed over 130 social service organizations within Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. However, these neighborhoods continued to have negative health and educational outcomes for children and families. There was a disconnect and Jones wanted to understand why.

Jones brought together a group of 40 leaders from the community, government, social services, and philanthropy to explore the issue. The group highlighted a lack of collaboration and competition for resources among organizations as one major barrier. Another major barrier was that systemic racism and resulting inequity removed from decision making about the services that were funded and provided.

The group started asking parents, residents, youth, and educators “what do you need and how can we help?” They then got to work finding solutions working in collaboration across groups.

Our History

Boston to Harlem
Hubie Jones organizes a group of Boston civic leaders to travel to New York to learn about place-based work and its potential application in Boston.

“Resource Rich, But Impact Poor.”
James Jennings publishes “Placed-based Service Delivery & Strategic Collaboration in Boston’s Distressed Neighborhoods: Framework for Planning and Action”. This report inspires Hubie Jones to convene leaders and activist to better understand the relationship between neighborhood, child outcomes, and service delivery.

Invited By The Community
Higher Ground is invited by residents of Roxbury’s Warren Gardens neighborhood to begin services. Resident meetings begin with the goal of identifying community priorities.

2009

Filling a gap

Boston to Harlem
Hubie Jones organizes a group of Boston civic leaders to travel to New York to learn about place-based work and its potential application in Boston.

“Resource Rich, But Impact Poor.”
James Jennings publishes “Placed-based Service Delivery & Strategic Collaboration in Boston’s Distressed Neighborhoods: Framework for Planning and Action”. This report inspires Hubie Jones to convene leaders and activist to better understand the relationship between neighborhood, child outcomes, and service delivery.

Invited By The Community
Higher Ground is invited by residents of Roxbury’s Warren Gardens neighborhood to begin services. Resident meetings begin with the goal of identifying community priorities.

Following over a year of convenings facilitated by Tulaine Montgomery at City Year Boston’s community space on Columbus Avenue, Higher Ground was founded by Hubie Jones and led by Board Chair Charlotte Golar Richie in its early days.

2010

Officially Founded

Following over a year of convenings facilitated by Tulaine Montgomery at City Year Boston’s community space on Columbus Avenue, Higher Ground was founded by Hubie Jones and led by Board Chair Charlotte Golar Richie in its early days.

Higher Ground Launches Community Programs
Higher Ground works with community members in census tract 817 to learn about needs and leverage partner resources to address them. 

A New Home For Higher Ground & Teen Empowerment
Higher Ground moves into the same office as Teen Empowerment, to leverage resources and better serve the community. Present at the Open House Welcome Event are Mayor Thomas Menino, Higher Ground Founder Hubie Jones, Teen Empowerment Board Chair Joe Jackson, and City Councilor Tito Jackson.

Investing in Data Security and Impact Evaluation
With support from community activist Clarence Cooper, Higher Ground develops data and evaluation partnership with Suffolk University.

2011

Getting Started

Higher Ground Launches Community Programs
Higher Ground works with community members in census tract 817 to learn about needs and leverage partner resources to address them. 

A New Home For Higher Ground & Teen Empowerment
Higher Ground moves into the same office as Teen Empowerment, to leverage resources and better serve the community. Present at the Open House Welcome Event are Mayor Thomas Menino, Higher Ground Founder Hubie Jones, Teen Empowerment Board Chair Joe Jackson, and City Councilor Tito Jackson.

Investing in Data Security and Impact Evaluation
With support from community activist Clarence Cooper, Higher Ground develops data and evaluation partnership with Suffolk University.

Higher Ground builds new partnerships including Families First to support expectant parents and ABCD and America’s Promise Alliance to promote jobs and leadership skills for young people in the community.

2012

FOcusing on Families

Higher Ground builds new partnerships including Families First to support expectant parents and ABCD and America’s Promise Alliance to promote jobs and leadership skills for young people in the community.

Higher Ground serves as the community outreach support for the court-appointed receiver following the closing of the Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center (RoxComp) and assisting the receiver to connect with former employees and clients, and marketing the facility. It is now the Bridge Boston Public Charter School.

2013

Stepping Up to Support A Community Pillar

Higher Ground serves as the community outreach support for the court-appointed receiver following the closing of the Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center (RoxComp) and assisting the receiver to connect with former employees and clients, and marketing the facility. It is now the Bridge Boston Public Charter School.

Services connecting schools including the Ellis, Higginson-Lewis, and Higginson K0-K2 and their families accelerate. Families First, Friends of the Children, and Generations, Inc., Union Capital Boston, and more partners join the collective.

2015

School-Based Partnerships Accelerate

Services connecting schools including the Ellis, Higginson-Lewis, and Higginson K0-K2 and their families accelerate. Families First, Friends of the Children, and Generations, Inc., Union Capital Boston, and more partners join the collective.

Facilities Improvements for Early Education Center
With Higher Ground’s supports The Crispus Attucks Children’s Center receives $4 million in government grants and tax credits for a major facilities upgrade to improve the health, safety, and educational environment for over 200 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

School Leaders Advocate Collectively For Students
Principal meetings begin for a “campus” of schools including leaders collaborating to support their students and families. Schools include Higginson Lewis, Ellis, Higginson K-2, Bridge Boston, Brooke, KIPP, and Mission Grammar.

Parents Organize
Higher Ground coordinates the founding of the Roxbury Dorchester Mattapan (RDM) Parent Coalition building a strong network of parent leaders to support children in neighborhood schools.

Playground for the Higginson K-2
After school committee testimony by parents, teachers, school leaders, and students the Higginson K-2 school gets a new $500,000 playground where there was once only a sheet of asphalt for young children to play.

2016

Organizing for change

Facilities Improvements for Early Education Center
With Higher Ground’s supports The Crispus Attucks Children’s Center receives $4 million in government grants and tax credits for a major facilities upgrade to improve the health, safety, and educational environment for over 200 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

School Leaders Advocate Collectively For Students
Principal meetings begin for a “campus” of schools including leaders collaborating to support their students and families. Schools include Higginson Lewis, Ellis, Higginson K-2, Bridge Boston, Brooke, KIPP, and Mission Grammar.

Parents Organize
Higher Ground coordinates the founding of the Roxbury Dorchester Mattapan (RDM) Parent Coalition building a strong network of parent leaders to support children in neighborhood schools.

Playground for the Higginson K-2
After school committee testimony by parents, teachers, school leaders, and students the Higginson K-2 school gets a new $500,000 playground where there was once only a sheet of asphalt for young children to play.

Following 2 years of planning, The Family Led Stability Pilot formally launches to address student and family homelessness in BPS schools. Partners include BPS, Mayor Marty Walsh’s Education Cabinet, Boston Housing Authority, Department of Neighborhood Development, City Councilor Essaibi-George, DSNI, Project Hope, and New Lease for Homeless Families.

2018

innovative Housing Pilot Begins

Following 2 years of planning, The Family Led Stability Pilot formally launches to address student and family homelessness in BPS schools. Partners include BPS, Mayor Marty Walsh’s Education Cabinet, Boston Housing Authority, Department of Neighborhood Development, City Councilor Essaibi-George, DSNI, Project Hope, and New Lease for Homeless Families.

Higher Ground Forms Board of Advisors
As Higher Ground’s network of advisors, past board members, and volunteers grows the group is formally convened to offer advice and generate support. Advisors include parents, residents, and individuals from the academic, philanthropic, faith, government, business, and non profit sectors.

Invited to Join Open Opportunity Massachusetts
Higher Ground serves as the backbone organization for the Thriving Families Leverage Team of Open Opportunity Massachusetts, a cross-sector network focused on transforming the educational system by removing barriers that segregate students and families by race and class.

First Educator Appreciation Event
Higher Ground hosts the first Educator Appreciation Event clambake on Thompson Island that draws more than 60 principals, teachers, and leaders from 4 Boston schools.​ The event is so popular that it has become an annual event.

Early Care Provider Awarded UPK Designation
Higher Grounds Assists the Crispus Attucks Childrens Center to become an official Boston Public Schools Universal pre-kindergarten site providing funding and curriculum support for up to 60 children in three classrooms for the 2019-2020 school year.

2019

leveraging educational resources

Higher Ground Forms Board of Advisors
As Higher Ground’s network of advisors, past board members, and volunteers grows the group is formally convened to offer advice and generate support. Advisors include parents, residents, and individuals from the academic, philanthropic, faith, government, business, and non profit sectors.

Invited to Join Open Opportunity Massachusetts
Higher Ground serves as the backbone organization for the Thriving Families Leverage Team of Open Opportunity Massachusetts, a cross-sector network focused on transforming the educational system by removing barriers that segregate students and families by race and class.

First Educator Appreciation Event
Higher Ground hosts the first Educator Appreciation Event clambake on Thompson Island that draws more than 60 principals, teachers, and leaders from 4 Boston schools.​ The event is so popular that it has become an annual event.

Early Care Provider Awarded UPK Designation
Higher Grounds Assists the Crispus Attucks Childrens Center to become an official Boston Public Schools Universal pre-kindergarten site providing funding and curriculum support for up to 60 children in three classrooms for the 2019-2020 school year.

Summer Learning Academy Begins
In response to needs identified by parents and school staff, Higher Ground launches summer programming with culturally relevant curriculum and staff.

Responding to Remote Learning
Higher Ground teams up with One Bead and JFYNetworks to support remote learning at partner schools during COVID-19

Culturally Responsive COVID-19 Information
Higher Ground supports culturally responsive COVID-19 Information public health information. Dr. Jeffrey Edwards of Children’s Hospital Boston and Erika Florence, public health educator and executive, support this effort.

Race Equity Conversations Launched
Following the murder of George Floyd, Higher Ground partners with NAACP Boston and the Commonwealth Seminar to create Community Crossover Dialogues – a forum for conversation on social justice issues related to race and ethnicity.

A Health Equity Approach for Schools
Higher Ground begins community meetings to plan and implement the Resilient Families Surround Care Coalition focused on health equity using schools as community hubs. Support and technical assistance resources is provided by Boston Children’s Hospital ‘s Children’s Health Equity Initiative.

2020

RESPONDING TO crises

Summer Learning Academy Begins
In response to needs identified by parents and school staff, Higher Ground launches summer programming with culturally relevant curriculum and staff.

Responding to Remote Learning
Higher Ground teams up with One Bead and JFYNetworks to support remote learning at partner schools during COVID-19

Culturally Responsive COVID-19 Information
Higher Ground supports culturally responsive COVID-19 Information public health information. Dr. Jeffrey Edwards of Children’s Hospital Boston and Erika Florence, public health educator and executive, support this effort.

Race Equity Conversations Launched
Following the murder of George Floyd, Higher Ground partners with NAACP Boston and the Commonwealth Seminar to create Community Crossover Dialogues – a forum for conversation on social justice issues related to race and ethnicity.

A Health Equity Approach for Schools
Higher Ground begins community meetings to plan and implement the Resilient Families Surround Care Coalition focused on health equity using schools as community hubs. Support and technical assistance resources is provided by Boston Children’s Hospital ‘s Children’s Health Equity Initiative.

Celebrating 10 Years of Collective Impact
Higher Ground celebrates its 10th anniversary by hosting a virtual event with partners, community leaders, philanthropic partners, families, and policy leaders. The Liberty Mutual Foundation and Boston Children’s Hospital are recognized for their support.

Housing Pilot Enters Next Phase
Due to the initial success of the Family Led Stability Pilot, the collaborative scales up its work and becomes the Family Led Stability Initiative expanding capacity to partner with 20 schools.

2021

Celebrating 10 years

Celebrating 10 Years of Collective Impact
Higher Ground celebrates its 10th anniversary by hosting a virtual event with partners, community leaders, philanthropic partners, families, and policy leaders. The Liberty Mutual Foundation and Boston Children’s Hospital are recognized for their support.

Housing Pilot Enters Next Phase
Due to the initial success of the Family Led Stability Pilot, the collaborative scales up its work and becomes the Family Led Stability Initiative expanding capacity to partner with 20 schools.

Capacity Doubles
The program team increases by 2x and immediately begins an increase of services and coordination across education, health, and housing focus areas.

Afterschool Begins
In response to community requests for afterschool services, Higher Ground begins offering free afterschool programming at the Ellis school.

The Story of Higher Ground Published
Renowned Professor Emeritus James Jennings of Tufts University along with co-authors Kadineyse Paz and Lisette DeSouza, produce a case study of Higher Ground’s first 10 years.

2022

Growing Capacity

Capacity Doubles
The program team increases by 2x and immediately begins an increase of services and coordination across education, health, and housing focus areas.

Afterschool Begins
In response to community requests for afterschool services, Higher Ground begins offering free afterschool programming at the Ellis school.

The Story of Higher Ground Published
Renowned Professor Emeritus James Jennings of Tufts University along with co-authors Kadineyse Paz and Lisette DeSouza, produce a case study of Higher Ground’s first 10 years.

2023

2024

Higher Ground’s History