Our History

Higher Ground Boston evolved out of the work of the Working Group on Nonprofit Stabilization and Recovery, which was a response to struggling nonprofit service organizations in high-poverty neighborhoods and communities of color in Boston. An analysis of the economic indicators related to neighborhoods in Roxbury, North Dorchester and Mattapan, commissioned by the Working Group revealed an alarming picture of negative outcomes for children and youth, particularly related to health and education.

These data led a coalition of nonprofit leaders, foundation program officers and academics to consider the need for new service paradigms to get far better outcomes. Consequently, twenty-five Boston leaders visited the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City on May 1, 2009, to learn about its operations and results. They returned to Boston and decided to establish a place-based service program that would be relevant to Boston’s unique circumstances.

To address the impact gap, Higher Ground seeks to unite various service providers to affect actual, measurable results in one neighborhood at a time. The leaders of Higher Ground recognize that intergenerational poverty and structural inequality will only end with at least a generation of dedicated, results-oriented work. To affect change, Higher Ground will engage communities rather than individuals, generating results that will promote life-long community empowerment that will not end simply when funding for individuals or specific service-providers stops.

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Key Accomplishments to Date

• Higher Ground is led by a diverse Board of Directors with decades of experience in social justice work, youth development, community organizing, financial management and more.
• Higher Ground has assembled a dynamic staff:

  • Executive Director Mossik Hacobian
  • Navigator/Advocate Ericka Florence, a resident of our target area
  • Program and Operations Manager Maria Choi Fernandopulle
  • Interns and volunteers who assist on specific projects and tasks

• We’ve identified a target area and have participated in a series of meetings with resident leaders and with the residents themselves.
• Higher Ground partnered with the Center for Teen Empowerment, ABCD and America’s Promise Alliance to promote youth leadership development, community organizing and conduct community needs assessments in summer and part-time after school jobs.
• In collaboration with Teen Empowerment, America’s Promise Alliance and ABCD, Higher Ground,in our first year of operations, ran a successful Summer Pilot Program  in 2011 which helped 29 youth, both high school and college students, obtain summer employment and mentorships.
• Higher Ground helped launch Boston’s Unity Council, with more than 30 nonprofit organizations serving our target area, and meet quarterly to share best practices and information.
• We launched programming in March 2012, to support new and expectant parents and to support families in the areas of education and health.
• We opened new renovated offices at 384 Warren Street, across from the Roxbury YMCA.
• We have received financial support from banks and foundations including the United Way, Boston Foundation, Barr Foundation, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Hyams Foundation, Riley Foundation, Cabot Charitable Trust, Boston Rising, Sovereign and Citizens Banks.
• We are working with organizations, including Suffolk University Moakley Center for Public Management, to develop an evaluation and data tracking system to ensure that Higher Ground achieves measurable, desirable outcomes.
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