Mission: Higher Achievement was founded in 1975 by Greg Gannon, a teacher at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, DC. Higher Achievement closes the opportunity gap duri ... (More)

Higher Achievement is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1985, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  http://www.higherachievement.org

  1750 Columbia Road NW
Washington DC 20009 

  202-861-7753


 Important note on the timeliness of ratings

The IRS is significantly delayed in processing nonprofits' annual tax filings (Forms 990). As a result, the Financial and Accountability & Transparency score for Higher Achievement is outdated and the overall rating may not be representative of its current operations. Please check with the charity directly for any questions you may have.

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Star Rating System by Charity Navigator


Charity Navigator evaluates a nonprofit organization’s financial health including measures of stability, efficiency and sustainability. We also track accountability and transparency policies to ensure the good governance and integrity of the organization.




Needs Improvement

This charity's score is 78.70, earning it a 2-Star rating. Charity Navigator believes donors can "Give with Confidence" to charities with 3- and 4-Star ratings.

This score is calculated from two sub-scores:

This score represents Form 990 data from 2019. More recent filing data is available, but it has not been factored into this score, due to COVID-19's effect on this organization.

View this organization’s historical ratings.

Rating update postponed due to COVID-19's impact on this organization. View Higher Achievement's response.


Back to Overall

Star Rated Report

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Program Expense

Program Expense Ratio

68.7%


The Program Expense Ratio is determined by Program Expenses divided by Total Expense (average of most recent three 990s).


This measure reflects the percent of its total expenses a charity spends on the programs and services it exists to deliver. Dividing a charity's average program expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Administrative Expenses

19.8%


As reported by charities on their IRS Form 990, this measure reflects what percent of its total budget a charity spends on overhead, administrative staff and associated costs, and organizational meetings. Dividing a charity's average administrative expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Expenses

11.4%


This measure reflects what a charity spends to raise money. Fundraising expenses can include campaign printing, publicity, mailing, and staffing and costs incurred in soliciting donations, memberships, and grants. Dividing a charity's average fundraising expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Liabilities to Assets Ratio

22.2%


The Liabilities to Assets Ratio is determined by Total Liabilities divided by Total Assets (most recent 990).


Part of our goal in rating the financial performance of charities is to help donors assess the financial capacity and sustainability of a charity. As do organizations in other sectors, charities must be mindful of their management of total liabilites in relation to their total assets. This ratio is an indicator of an organization’s solvency and or long term sustainability. Dividing a charity's total liabilities by its total assets yields this percentage.


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Efficiency

$0.12


The amount spent to raise $1 in charitable contributions. To calculate a charity's fundraising efficiency, we divide its average fundraising expenses by the average total contributions it receives. We calculate the charity's average expenses and average contributions over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Working Capital Ratio

0.47 years


Determines how long a charity could sustain its level of spending using its net available assets, or working capital, as reported on its most recently filed Form 990. We include in a charity's working capital unrestricted and temporarily restricted net assets, and exclude permanently restricted net assets. Dividing these net available assets in the most recent year by a charity's average total expenses, yields the working capital ratio. We calculate the charity's average total expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Program Expense Growth

1.04%


We compute the average annual growth of program expenses using the following formula: [(Yn/Y0)(1/n)]-1, where Y0 is a charity's program expenses in the first year of the interval analyzed, Yn is the charity's program expenses in the most recent year, and n is the interval of years passed between Y0 and Yn.


Source: IRS Form 990

Governance


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990 that the organization has these governance practices in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990

Governance:
Independent Voting Board Members  ... (More)
No Material Diversion of Assets ... (More)

A diversion of assets – any unauthorized conversion or use of the organization's assets other than for the organization's authorized purposes, including but not limited to embezzlement or theft – can seriously call into question a charity's financial integrity. We check the charity's last two Forms 990 to see if the charity has reported any diversion of assets. If the charity does report a diversion, then we check to see if it complied with the Form 990 instructions by describing what happened and its corrective action. This metric will be assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Full Credit: There has been no diversion of assets within the last two years.

  • Partial Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity has used Schedule O on the Form 990 to explain: the nature of the diversion, the amount of money or property involved and the corrective action taken to address the matter. In this situation, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity's explanation on Schedule O is either non-existent or not sufficient. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
(Less)
Audited Financials Prepared by Independent Accountant ... (More)

Audited financial statements provide important information about financial accountability and accuracy. They should be prepared by an independent accountant with oversight from an audit committee. (It is not necessary that the audit committee be a separate committee. Often at smaller charities, it falls within the responsibilities of the finance committee or the executive committee.) The committee provides an important oversight layer between the management of the organization, which is responsible for the financial information reported, and the independent accountant, who reviews the financials and issues an opinion based on its findings. We check the charity's Form 990 reporting to see if it meets this criteria.

  • Full Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant with an audit oversight committee.

  • Partial Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant, but it did not have an audit oversight committee. In this case, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: The charity did not have its audited financials prepared by an independent accountant. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
(Less)
Does Not Provide Loan(s) to or Receive Loan(s) From Related Parties ... (More)
Documents Board Meeting Minutes ... (More)
Distributes 990 to Board Before Filing ... (More)
Compensates Board ... (More)

Policies


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization has these policies in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Policies:
Conflict of Interest  ... (More)
Whistleblower ... (More)
Records Retention and Destruction ... (More)
CEO Compensation Process ... (More)
Donor Privacy ... (More)

Donors can be reluctant to contribute to a charity when their name, address, or other basic information may become part of donor lists that are exchanged or sold, resulting in an influx of charitable solicitations from other organizations. Our analysts check the charity's website to see if the organization has a donor privacy policy in place and what it does and does not cover. Privacy policies are assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Yes: This charity has a written donor privacy policy published on its website, which states unambiguously that (1) it will not share or sell a donor's personal information with anyone else, nor send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations or (2) it will only share or sell personal information once the donor has given the charity specific permission to do so.

  • Opt-out: The charity has a written privacy policy published on its website which enables donors to tell the charity to remove their names and contact information from lists the charity shares or sells. How a donor can have themselves removed from a list differs from one charity to the next, but any and all opt-out policies require donors to take specific action to protect their privacy.
  • No: This charity either does not have a written donor privacy policy in place to protect their contributors' personal information, or the existing policy does not meet our criteria.

The privacy policy must be specific to donor information. A general website policy which references "visitor" or "user" personal information will not suffice. A policy that refers to donor information collected on the website is also not sufficient as the policy must be comprehensive and applicable to both online and offline donors. The existence of a privacy policy of any type does not prohibit the charity itself from contacting the donor for informational, educational, or solicitation purposes.

(Less)

Transparency


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization makes this information easily accessible.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Transparency:
CEO Salary Listed on 990 ... (More)
Board of Directors Listed on Website ... (More)
Key Staff Listed on Website ... (More)
Audited Financial Statements on Website ... (More)
Form 990 Available on Website ... (More)

Additional Information

Unscored

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Total Revenue and Expenses

Total Revenue and Expenses

This chart displays the trend of revenue and expenses over the past several years for this organization, as reported on their IRS Form 990.

Salary of Key Persons

Presented here are this organizations key compensated staff members as identified by our analysts. This compensation data includes salary, cash bonuses and expense accounts and is displayed exactly how it is reported to the IRS. The amounts do not include nontaxable benefits, deferred compensation, or other amounts not reported on Form W-2. In some cases, these amounts may include compensation from related organizations. Read the IRS policies for compensation reporting



Lynsey Wood Jeffries, CEO

$201,161 (2.10% of Total Expenses)


Current CEO and Board Chair can be found in the Leadership & Adaptability report below.

Source: IRS Form 990 (page 7), filing year 2019

Business Master File Data

Below are some key data points from the Exempt Organization IRS Business Master File (BMF) for this organization. Learn more about the BMF on the IRS website


Activities:

Private school (BMF activity code: 046)


Foundation Status:

School 170(b)(1)(A)(ii) (BMF foundation code: 11)


Affiliation:

Independent - the organization is an independent organization or an independent auxiliary (i.e., not affiliated with a National, Regional, or Geographic grouping of organizations). (BMF affiliation code: 3)

Data Sources: IRS Forms 990

The Form 990 is a document that nonprofit organizations file with the IRS annually. We leverage finance and accountability data from it to form Encompass ratings. Click here to view this organization's Forms 990 on the IRS website (if any are available).

Pandemic Response

This organization was impacted by COVID-19 in a way that effected their financial health in 2020. This normally would have reduced their star rating. Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, we give charities such as this one the opportunity to share the story of COVID's impact on them, and doing this pauses our revision of their rating. Charities may submit their own pandemic responses through their nonprofit portal.


Higher Achievement reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Revenue

  • Staffing

  • Administrative Capacity

  • Balance Sheet


How COVID-19 impacted the organization's operations financially:

We applied and received the PPP loan and were able to retain all of our full-time staff. We transitioned our in-person fundraising events to virtual or cancelled some of the smaller events.


How COVID-19 impacted the organization's delivery of programs:

Due to extended school closures, we had to transition all of our in-person programming to virtual program via Zoom. We adapted our model for the virtual space which included shorter, high-impact sessions so as not to create Zoom fatigue amongst our scholars. Our program components consisted of math tutoring, high school placement support, humanities mentoring, and large group community meeting. We also offered virtual office hours where students could bring homework or receive extra support.


How this organization adapted to changing conditions caused by COVID-19:

Operationally, our entire staff has continued to work remotely and we are now beginning to implement return to in-person work, particularly for out staff who work directly in schools with students.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

We now have an option for virtual programming, especially if students are sick or need to miss a large chunk of programming. We are also hosting our biggest fundraising event virtually again. Finally, our work from home policy has been adapted to be more flexible.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
3/1/20212019 78.70
2/1/20212018 86.68
12/1/20192018 86.38

This organization received multiple star ratings within this fiscal year, due to an update to its Accountability and Transparency data and/or the receipt of an amended Form 990.

12/21/20182017 88.67
3/1/20182016 88.12
3/1/20172015 92.25
2/1/20172015 90.80
6/1/20162014 80.42
Rating Version: 2.0
11/1/20152014 84.81
9/1/20142013 91.66
10/1/20132012 88.87
2/1/20132011 78.63
11/6/20122011 77.26
3/1/20122010 90.23

Previous: Finance & Accountability  / Next: Leadership & Adaptability

...   Impact & Results


This score estimates the actual impact a nonprofit has on the lives of those it serves, and determines whether it is making good use of donor resources to achieve that impact.


Impact & Results Score

Not Currently Scored

Higher Achievement cannot currently be evaluated by our Encompass Rating Impact & Results methodology because either (A) it is eligible, but we have not yet received data; (B) we have not yet developed an algorithm to estimate its programmatic impact; (C) its programs are not direct services; or (D) it is not heavily reliant on contributions from individual donors.

Note: The absence of a score does not indicate a positive or negative assessment, it only indicates that we have not yet evaluated the organization.

Learn more about Impact & Results.


Back to Overall

Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



Higher Achievement reported its largest program on its FY 2019 Form 990 as:


$6,744,278

Spent in most recent FY

100%

Percent of program expenses


After School & Summer Academic Enrichment


Previous: Impact & Results  / Next: Culture & Community

...   Leadership & Adaptability


This score provides an assessment of the organization's leadership capacity, strategic thinking and planning, and ability to innovate or respond to changes in constituent demand/need or other relevant social and economic conditions to achieve the organization's mission.


Leadership & Adaptability Score

100

out of 100

The score earned by Higher Achievement is a passing score. This score has no effect on the organization's Star Rating.

Encompass Rating V4 provides an evaluation of the organization's Leadership & Adaptability through the nonprofit organization submitting a survey response directly to Charity Navigator.


Back to Overall

Leadership & Adaptability Report

100

of 100 points

Mission

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking through articulating the organization’s mission


Higher Achievement closes the opportunity gap during the pivotal middle school years. By leveraging the power of communities, Higher Achievement’s proven model provides a rigorous year-round learning environment, caring role models, and a culture of high expectations, resulting in college-bound scholars with the character, confidence, and skills to succeed. We provide services in Baltimore, MD; Richmond, VA; and the Washington, DC metro area.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking through articulating the organization’s vision.


Higher Achievement seeks to build a world where every child’s promise and potential are realized, regardless of circumstance.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Strategic Goals

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking and goal setting through sharing their most important strategic goals.


Goal One: Implement our COVID-19 learning recovery model including high-impact literacy tutoring, high school readiness mentoring, SEL, and social justice principles.

Goal Type: New program(s) based on observed changes in needs among our constituencies/communities served.


Goal Two: • Serve 1,000 scholars over two years at 15 Achievement Centers in metro Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; and, Richmond, VA.

Goal Type: Grow, expand, scale or increase access to the existing programs and services.


Goal Three: • Partner with at least six College/University partners to recruit and retain 240 literacy volunteers for the high-dosage literacy tutoring component of our model.

Goal Type: New program(s) based on observed changes in needs among our constituencies/communities served.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Leadership Development

The nonprofit provides evidence of investment in leadership development


Describe an investment in leadership

We hired a DEI consultant to lead our work in becoming an anti-racist organization. This consultant meets with our leadership team on a regular basis to provide support and guidance.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Mobilizing for Mission

The nonprofit provides evidence of leadership through focusing externally and mobilizing resources for the mission.


This organization mobilizes for mission in the following ways:
  • Strategic Partnerships

  • Networks of Collective Impact Efforts

  • Thought Leadership

  • Raising Awareness

  • Policy Advocacy

What are this organization’s external mobilizaton efforts?

Each of our Executive Directors in each program location participates in OST coalition groups focused on advocacy for our sector. Additionally, we are active on social media and share a monthly e-newsletter. We also have formal partnerships with other organizations to advance our work including colleges/universities and other nonprofits and community-based organizations.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Story of Adaptability

The nonprofit has an opportunity to tell the story of how the organization adapted to tremendous external changes in the last year.


Within the first 10 days of the school closures, we called all of our scholars and families to ask about their health, wellness, and how we could best support. We also called all of our school partners to ask how we could help, and we connected with our mentors as well. We listened closely. We knew we could not build virtual supports based on staff assumptions, we needed to ask our stakeholders themselves. We used a rapid improvement cycle approach to our virtual programming. Every Thursday, our Directors of Program Operations convened to share scholar engagement numbers, successes and challenges, and to adapt the plans for the next week. One example of early adaptation was to add incentives for participation, and we distributed hundreds of Amazon and grocery gift cards to scholars and families. For the 2020-21 school year, we adapted our program based on the first few months of virtual program to focus on the needs of scholars and families during extended school closures. In March 2021, our leadership team met with an external facilitator to develop our COVID-recovery plan and in fall 2021, we launched our COVID-recovery model in each of our program locations.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Additional Information

Unscored

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Organization Leadership

Organization Leadership


Lynsey Wood Jeffries

Chief Executive Officer

Chris Leech

Chair

Previous: Leadership & Adaptability

...   Culture & Community


This score provides an assessment of the organization's culture and connectedness to the community it serves. Learn more about how and why we rate Culture & Community.


Culture & Community Score

92

out of 100

Higher Achievement has earned a passing score. This score has no effect on the organization's Star Rating. The organization provided data about how it listens to constituents (Constituent Feedback) and its Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) practices (see report below).

The Culture & Community Beacon is comprised of the following metrics:

  • Constituent Feedback: 100/100 (30% of beacon score)

  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion: 88/100 (70% of beacon score)


Back to Overall

Culture & Community Report

92

of 100 points

This beta feature is currently viewable only on desktop or tablet screens. Check back later for updates.

Constituent Feedback

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

88/100 points

70% of beacon score


This organization's score of 88 is a passing score. The organization reported that it is implementing 6 diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices. Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations implementing effective DEI policies and practices can enhance a nonprofit's decision-making, staff motivation, innovation, and effectiveness.


View this organization's DEI Strategies


Methodology


We are utilizing data collected by Candid to document and assess the DEI practices implemented by the organization. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to fill out the Equity Strategies section of their Candid profiles to receive a rating.


Learn more about the methodology.

Constituent Feedback

100/100 points

30% of beacon score


This organization reported that it is collecting feedback from the constituents and/or communities it serves. Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations that engage in inclusive practices, such as collecting feedback from the people and communities they serve, may be more effective.


View this organization's Constituent Feedback Practices




Methodology


We've partnered with Candid to survey organizations about their feedback practices. Nonprofit organizations can fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile to receive a rating.


Learn more about the methodology.

Analysis and Research


Like the overall Encompass Rating System, the Culture & Community Beacon is designed to evolve as metrics are developed and ready for integration. Below you can find more information about the metrics we currently evaluate in this beacon and their relevance to nonprofit performance.


Constituent Feedback


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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