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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, behavioral health treatment, 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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Know More about our Founder

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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 company’s 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



"I truly believe that HG brings a lot to the Oakland Community and hope that this continues. We are so in need of organization like Higher Ground that are willing to help students learn and grow."

Michelle Coz Grant, M. Ed

Principal, East Oakland Pride

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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.

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