History of Higher Ground

Boston’s Higher Ground was founded in July 2010 following two years of meetings convened by long-time Boston community leader and social activist Hubie Jones who had brought together more than three dozen community, government and philanthropic leaders to explore reasons for lack of improvement in health and educational outcomes for children and families in Boston’s neighborhoods despite the wealth of resources available in the city. The group was concerned about the number of organizations within communities of color that were at risk and the less than optimal outcomes due to silo behavior of many organizations. One insightful comment described the neighborhood as “resource rich and impact poor.”

The concept behind Higher Ground’s mission and work was developed in 2009, after Boston civic leaders took an inspiring trip to New York City to visit the famed Harlem Children’s Zone.  Among the visitors was Higher Ground’s founder, Hubie Jones, who had read the data in a 2009 report about Boston’s most distressed neighborhoods. The study, authored by former Tufts University Professor James Jennings, highlighted the existence of over 130 service organizations along the Blue Hill Avenue corridor, extending 5.2 miles from Roxbury’s Dudley Square to Mattapan Square.  Yet, despite the presence of these community-based institutions, and the wealth of services and programs they represented, poverty and structural inequality with their deeply negative effects continue to plague the most distressed neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan.


Higher Ground’s community base is primarily residents of color including Black/African American (47%) and Hispanic (27%).

Major Milestones

  • Assisted the Warren Gardens Resident Association and Housing Cooperative Board to resolve issues related to finances, governance and capital needs of their development.

  • ​Served as the community outreach support for the court-appointed receiver following the closing of the Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center (RoxComp) and assisted the receiver to connect with former employees and clients, and market the facility resulting in its acquisition and development by the Bridge Boston Public Charter School.

  • Worked with the City of Boston to launch a pilot program to house homeless families of 255 students attending seven target schools in Roxbury and Dorchester and have successfully housed 132 formerly homeless students since January of 2018.

  • Crispus Attucks Children’s Center (CACC) is completing a major capital improvement project that will enable the Center to continue to serve families of more than 200 children. Included in the campaign is a $1 million dollar grant that Higher Ground helped CACC get from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.

  • Secured $500,000 for the Henry Higginson K-2 School to build a playground. The ribbon-cutting celebration took place on November 5, 2019.

  • Facilitated the formation of the Roxbury Dorchester Mattapan (RDM) Parent Coalition that advocates for improved educational services for all children regardless of the school they attend.

  • Collaborated with Families First and Crispus Attucks Children’s Center to provide parenting skills workshops for parents of young children.

  • Assisted CACC with completing a successful application to become an official Boston Universal Pre-Kindergarten site serving up to 60 children in 3 classrooms beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.

  • Hosted our first annual Educator Appreciation event in partnership with Thompson Island that drew more than 60 principals, teachers, and leaders from 4 Boston schools.​

  • ​The high level of trust we have built between local school educators and parents has led to a successful $150,000 planning proposal to Children’s Heath Equity Initiative of the Boston Children’s Hospital that we anticipate will lead to a 3-year $1 million implementation grant to support local children and their families using schools as the connectors to the families. A 14-member coalition consisting of three local schools, CACC, BPS, eight other non-profit organizations, and Higher Ground as the “backbone” organization of the coalition, is now engaged in weekly meetings preparing the plan through August 2020.

Working with local partner organizations, we’ve tackled what we’re calling “a trilogy of disparity” that exists in some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods.  Through these partnerships, and through our efforts to work across silos, to bridge common ground between and among service providers, to advocate for and leverage resources, and share best practices, we aim to utilize collective impact strategies to tackle challenges in three specific areas:  education, health and housing.

Current Focus