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Our Programs

Navigate by Program Type

Youth Mentorship
Family and Community Development
Workforce Developement
Mental Health & Wellness
Human Trafficking Prevention

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Youth Mentorship

after-schoo enrichment
After-School Enrichment

To prepare for lifelong learning, resilience, and socio-economic stability, Higher Ground focuses on social-emotional learning skills by surrounding youth with caring and competent mentors and by providing a space for youth to develop competencies to assist them in transitioning to healthy and successful adulthood. The five competencies are: ​ Health/Physical Competence: Diet, nutrition, and health. Personal/Social Competence: Intrapersonal and Interpersonal skills. Cognitive/Creative Competencies: Educational, academic, and analytical thinking skills, artistic and individual expression. Vocational Competency: Openness to learning, working well in groups, active listening and participation, identifying career interests, and self-initiative. Citizenship (Ethics & Participation): Contributing to the community and believing you can make a difference. Engaging in activities to develop one’s own self-interest.

field trips
Field Trips

Higher Ground participants also find time to hit the road and explore the local community! Whether it's a visit to a local company, going to the movies, a day at the beach, or a local sports camp, Higher Ground field trips offer youth the opportunity to experience new, engaging, and fun activities. Farm & Animal Encounters Sailing Trips Hiking Adventures Fishing Excursions Tidepool Explorations Beach Day Horseback Riding Sports Day Angel Games

literacy program
Literacy Program

The COVID-19 pandemic and insufficient educational funding have had a substantial effect on K-12 student learning. Many students, particularly those in underprivileged communities, have fallen behind academically due to the pandemic's disruptions. This has resulted in a significant literacy issue among our Higher Ground youth, with nearly half of the students performing below their grade level, and some even unable to read. To address these challenges, Higher Ground has implemented the Literacy Program, which aims to tackle these issues through a comprehensive approach. The program involves assessing all students to identify those who are struggling, providing personalized one-on-one tutoring and mentorship, and introducing literacy activities into daily programming. The goal is to uplift the students and bridge the educational gaps caused by the pandemic and lack of funding.

teen community
Teen Community

Our Higher Ground Teen Community is a free weekly program open to everyone.  We offer a range of activities and learning opportunities with the goal of developing our teens to have excellent social, cognitive, creative, vocational, and citizenship competence. Higher Ground teens are mentored by college students and Higher Ground staff who encourage and support the group to achieve their goals.

summer camp
Summer Camp

Summer Camp is a time for fun! Mentoring is always a part of everything we do, but our focus during this academic break is a more active approach to personal growth. Throughout the 8-week program, our staff members engage youth in a variety of activities such as STEM, art, music, dance, all sports, and various field trips. As always, our youth are surrounded by caring and competent adults, peer leaders, and volunteers who join them in activities. Our summer camp participants are youth and adolescents from 7 to 17 years of age.​

youth sports
Youth Sports Leagues

Our sports leagues work on creating a culture in which youth have a great experience versus a focus on winning. Everyone involved makes an intentional effort to encourage effort and learning, even while making mistakes. Through teaching life lessons, coaches work with youth to improve themselves and their teammates. Youth Baseball: ​Higher Ground created a summer baseball and softball league thanks to a grant from the Orange County Youth Sports Foundation. Our summer leagues focus on teaching kids baseball mechanics and most importantly, the life skills that come along with it, like teamwork, patience, and communication. Youth Soccer: Higher Ground recently began a soccer program to enrich our youth sports program with one of the most popular global sports. This program teaches critical character-building skills like sportsmanship and teamwork and is available to all ages in the program. Youth Basketball:  This program mirrors our overall youth sports philosophy and focuses on character-building through team play.  Playground Sports: For our younger future athletes, we have developed some starter activities to get kids involved in physical fitness. In conjunction with our nutrition program, these playground sports facilitate the development of better health and wellness. The activities are fun, engaging, and begin to build teamwork and positive habits at a young age.

Family and Community Development

family engagement

Higher Ground engages families through weekly and monthly social events and social activities to provide emotional support, education, and training, providing positive, healthy coping skills to build resilience. Events and activities include an annual health and resource fair, monthly family dinners, parent and child activities, parenting classes, and feedback on program development.

parent advisory board
Parent Advisory

Our parent advisory is a leadership group comprised of parents active in our organization who provide input, advice, and feedback regularly to ensure we provide for and meet the needs of families participating in our program and the community.

adult learning classes
Adult Learning

In collaboration with the North Orange County Community College District, Higher Ground provides adult learners with opportunities to increase basic skills in reading, writing, and math, prepare for high school equivalency testing, learn English, increase civic engagement, computer skills, Microsoft programs, as well as social media awareness and develop the skills to transition to further education and jobs.

family health days
Health Days

Family Health Days are held in Lincoln Park. This year 50+ vendors provided health education, health related services (eye glasses made on the spot, diabetes testing, dental screenings) and other essential healthcare evaluations.

basic needs services
Basic Needs

Through assessments done by social workers who are part of our behavioral health team, we know that our families sometimes struggle to meet their basic needs. A food pantry, monthly family dinners, access to household goods and special events with giveaways like pillows, heaters and blankets, we are working to provide what is needed for our community.


Workforce Development

Teens2Work initiative

Our Teens2Work program began early on as we realized parents were dependent upon their children’s summer income to help support basic needs. Each summer we hire local teens to be part of our summer camp. They are with us to be mentored and to earn much needed income. Some of these teens work all year round and others have become full time employees after they graduate.

Scholars2Work initiative

The Scholars2Work program is funded by one generous donor who pays for Higher Ground summer teens to receive a generous hourly wage pays for college tuition.

behavioral health pathway
Behavioral Health Pathway

It is our privilege to host practicum students working on their marriage and family therapy or their master of social work degrees. These mental health professionals work on our campus for 1 or more academic years as they hone their skills and integrate the practices learned in the classroom. Our community benefits from these services as we can help monitor and support their emotional and social well being. Not only does it impact how we think, feel and act, it also determines how we handle stress, make choices and relate to others.


Mental Health & Wellness

group counseling
Group Counseling

Every child at Higher Ground participates in weekly group counseling. Topics include self care, social learning, emotional regulation and social media safety.

Individual & Family

What began with one marriage and family therapist (MFT) 8 years ago, has now become an entire behavioral health team at Higher Ground, consisting of MFTs and Master of Social Work students.  Some are completing graduate school and some have graduated and are working towards their 3,000 hours of counseling needed for licensure. Together they make up a very strong foundation in the form of a team that provides crisis counseling, family and individual therapy, and group counseling for each one of our participants.

thriving families program
Flourishing Families

Higher Ground's Thriving Families Program goes upstream to identify and recruit families seeking to heal and transform their lives. Families complete applications that help assess overall health determinants such as economic stability, the need for educational support, and overall family wellness. The answers to these questions allow us to extrapolate and prioritize risk in order to be proactive with our approach to impacting healthy youth and family development. Our Thriving Families Program focuses on: *Family and individual therapy *Reengagement in education or job training *Individual tutors for youth behind in academic performance *Case management services that lead to stronger employment options *Community engagement that builds purpose


Human Trafficking Prevention

human trafficking prevention program
Human Trafficking Prevention Program

Since the pandemic, rates of psychological distress among young people have increased, most heavily affecting those who were already vulnerable, but all our youth are affected. Risky social media use, low self esteem, family dysfunction, all things that are common during teens years, are also those things that create the vulnerability that attract this criminal activity, the largest growing criminal activity in Orange County. Our students are being targeting at an alarming rate. In late 2018, Higher Ground was asked by the OC Human Trafficking Task Force and the CSEC Steering Committee to create a robust, impactful human exploitation and trafficking prevention program. In the last two years, it has evolved into much more. To date, we have presented our program within junior high and high school health classes, to over 7000 students. With a heavy focus on education and awareness, Higher Ground’s Human Trafficking Prevention Program (HTPP) is a five day curriculum that allows for interactive discussion focused on the importance of self esteem/self confidence, healthy relationships, and social media safety, all leading up to sexual exploitation and human trafficking prevention.

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