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Explore our website in English and Spanish to become more familiar with what we do as a lead agency in Oakland! We are passionate about community, education, and our youth! Check out our site for more about us!

 Celebrating 20+ Years of Service 

Join Higher Ground as we celebrate 20 plus years of providing youth and neighborhood development service in the Town! 

When: August 11, 2024

Where: For the Culture

Time: 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm



Higher Ground

Neighborhood Development Corp.

Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corp. (Higher Ground) was incorporated in 2002 as one of Oakland Unified School Districts' first elementary Charter Schools to use a Community Schools Model.  Higher Ground was founded by a motivated group of dedicated teachers, principals, licensed mental health therapists, and community school experts.  Its BIPOC board of directors is female-led with a dynamic balance of educators, small business owners, and community members.

Our organizational mission is to provide services that address the development of systems that increase the intellectual development of children through workforce development, social emotional learning, after-school enrichment, technical assistance, service-learning, and school/community-based partnership development for youth and the organizations that serve them.

Higher Ground’s community school philosophy is designed to offer a plethora of services that develop and help families ensure they have a voice at every level of decision making at their student’s school.  Through the children and school communities, schools become stronger partners.  Providing technical assistance to schools and school districts on ways to create programming that encompasses a dynamic set of services is our expertise. Higher Ground Community School General Operating Systems show school leadership and personnel how to create programs with community partnerships that allow families to participate alongside their student in ways that build on concepts of community schooling.   


Provide Developmental Services

Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corp.'s mission is to provide services that address the intellectual development of young people through providing comprehensive after-school programming, career-to-college workforce programming, school-based behavioral health treatment, professional development, and service-learning experiences. HG acts as an information storehouse on school/community-based service coordination for youth and the organizations that serve them.

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After School Programs


Comprehensive School Support Services

Higher Ground offers a collection of best practice youth development strategies combined with mental, physical, emotional, and community health projects that develop school culture and climate. 

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Developmental Recess and School Climate Regulators

Higher Ground daytime staff are highly skilled and qualified in the areas of second step, tribes, and HG character development curriculum that impacts schools climate and culture.

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Professional Development and Teacher Coaching

The mantra of Higher Ground’s professional development and teacher coaching program is to “help teachers teach.” Higher Ground assists teachers in their ability to recognize, understand, and respond to students’ stress-triggered and challenging behaviors. 

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Service Coordination

We work to assure that multiple services at a sight or within a district are managed and implemented in a cohesive manner and students receive the appropriate services in a timely manner. We also make certain that projects are fiscally sound and support the overall school site plan. 

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Grade Level Collaborative Support

Because different schools want different activities to occur during this time, we have come up with several different options to meet their needs. Some of the options are, but are not limited to, Physical Education, Service Learning, Second Step Violence Prevention Program and different Enrichment Programs.


Comprehensive Expanding Learning and Lead Agency Programs

After school program sites provide cultural and physical enrichment, homework help, service-learning activities, and participation in wellness activities.  Youth engage in non-traditional recreational games, and explore visual, performing, and culture art opportunities. Higher Ground after school programs is proud to say that our curriculum complements the positive academic experiences children have during their daytime school days.  We empower and strengthen our students with a sense of belonging and create reciprocal opportunities to serve in the communities in which they live.

As a Lead Agency, Higher Ground provides quality assurance and fiscal oversight.  As a lead agency clients have access to our professional development portals, general liability, worker compensation, and stolen property insurance.  Higher Ground is responsible for background checks and all human resources and payroll functions.  Training, Coaching, and Appraisal of programming is also a part of our lead agency services.  Partnering organizations will undergo continuous quality improvement programming as a lead agency partner.  Principals of partnership and shared decision-making is the fabric of our service delivery model.  Higher Ground charges 18% to 25% indirect fee on total amount of any lead agency agreement.

Know More about our Founder

Helping to strengthen families through their children, and helping to strengthen communities by providing opportunities for them to define for themselves what they need to thrive is my passion and life’s work.

I am Amber Blackwell-Lee, M.A. the founder and Executive Director of Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corp. I am a twenty-year school reform revolutionary and founder of Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corp.

Higher Ground is a multi-service nonprofit designed to deliver comprehensive after-school and educational programs with mental health treatment and service-learning experiences.  Workforce development, college and career exploration, environmental justice, and travel abroad programs for young people ages 16 to 25 are highlights.  Community school technical assistance and professional development round out our multi-tiered service delivery model. 

My mission as a Founder and Executive Director is to help guide the organizations community school approach to partnering with community-based organizations.  School districts and school site leadership teams can benefit from her thirty years of knowledge in planning and implementation of community school models as a means of impacting and influencing the lives of children and families.

x Amber Blackwell

We are creating a net of support for our community!

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While America's established leadership continues to debate about race, class, and the role education plays in the development of "ideal" citizens, America's inner city youth, parents, educators, and the professionals who serve them are struggling for ways to serve each other in quality and authentic ways.

According to B. Bennet, one of several contributing authors of the book From Risk to Resiliency, today's children and families are facing more stress than they have the skills to cope with. From working parents who are stressing over daily life circumstances. To working parents who are unable to spend quality time with their children doing homework and developing them socially

and emotionally, to households where children return daily to unpredictable and often dangerous circumstances families are in trouble.

According to the leading headlines, Governmental institutions created to provide a safety net for children and families are now needed a safety net of their own. Broad partnerships that work together with schools, community-based organizations, and city, state, federal, and private entities are proven approaches to providing an interlocking net of support.


Parents Recommend

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 “The program helps my son better in school by making sure his homework is complete and helping him solve issues he faces everyday. The best part of the program is the tutors. They care for the students and their academics. My son has a better attitude because of the program. Instead of getting upset and giving up, he is more willing to talk it out”

Mr. Almas

Parent at New Highland Elementary School
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Principals, Teachers & Parents Recommend

Parent Testimonial

Principal Testimonial

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Working with the BEST Partners

Higher Ground partners with our local community based organizations to support the OUSD Community School Concept. Every year, Higher Ground participates & facilitates local events, fundraisers, field trips, workforce opportunities and as a lead service agency. As resources become limited each year, Higher Ground reaches out to the local, city, and state organizations to build relationships who have a common goal or interested in serving youth. We are about change and welcome all partners who are about nurturing and service the whole child. H.G.B-" Higher Ground Believes"
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