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Highlands Coalition

 150 Lynnway, Apartment 104
 Lynn, MA 01902
[P] (781) 595-8701
[F] --
David Gass
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 27-3266289

LAST UPDATED: 01/28/2019
Organization DBA The Highlands Coalition
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No


Mission StatementMORE »

The Highlands Coalition is composed of people who live and/or work in the Highlands neighborhood of Lynn, Massachusetts.  We build gardens and rehab parks and promote healthy living. We train college-age youth to work with school-age youth on health and environmental issues. We work on issues such as voting rights, youth jobs, anti-crime, foreclosure and eviction-prevention.  We assist the Lynn Housing Authority with the Lynn Lead Abatement Program and plan to expand into housing development for low and moderate income people.


Mission Statement

The Highlands Coalition is composed of people who live and/or work in the Highlands neighborhood of Lynn, Massachusetts.  We build gardens and rehab parks and promote healthy living. We train college-age youth to work with school-age youth on health and environmental issues. We work on issues such as voting rights, youth jobs, anti-crime, foreclosure and eviction-prevention.  We assist the Lynn Housing Authority with the Lynn Lead Abatement Program and plan to expand into housing development for low and moderate income people.


FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015
Projected Income $65,000.00
Projected Expense $64,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Returning voting to the Ford School
  • Urban agriculture

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

The Highlands Coalition is composed of people who live and/or work in the Highlands neighborhood of Lynn, Massachusetts.  We build gardens and rehab parks and promote healthy living. We train college-age youth to work with school-age youth on health and environmental issues. We work on issues such as voting rights, youth jobs, anti-crime, foreclosure and eviction-prevention.  We assist the Lynn Housing Authority with the Lynn Lead Abatement Program and plan to expand into housing development for low and moderate income people.


Background Statement

We began in December, 2006 at the Ford School (k-5). 

Well past its glory years of the 1950s and 60s, the Highlands has been known as a neighborhood burdened with;

  • drug and alcohol abuse;
  • gang activity;
  • domestic violence;
  • high rate of home foreclosures;
  • low voter turnout;
  • high unemployment;
  • low re-cycling and rodent problem

On the plus side, the Highlands has:

  • some of the best old-style housing in the city;
  • a core of long-term resident-owners;
  • a large number of proud, hard-working immigrant families;
 Ford School (k-5) and KIPP Academy are the only institutions in the Highlands where residents gather. The Ford School was a community school until 2014, when adult ed classes, the after-school program, tutoring and 20 other programs were closed and most of the school garden removed. 

The Coalition aims to reverse the negative state of affairs. We have organized clean-ups, planted trees, built a school garden, held a vigil and march for peace, registered voters.

Impact Statement

Accomplishments in 2015:
1. Expanded our community garden at the Cook St. Park from 25 to 43 beds. Because of its success in displacing gangs and quelling bad behavior, the Parks Commission allows gardens in three other parks. 
2. Created the Healthy Eating Youth (HEY) Club, 12 over-weight or obese children, who worked, exercised and received nutrition education in the garden. 
3. As the city's lead abatement outreach coordinator, helped owners and tenants of 55 housing units remove lead from their homes;
6. Organized Lynn's only Neighborhood Watch group on Allen Ave. Signed up people on several other streets to meet this year. 
7. Worked with Lynn DPW to educate 200 households about re-cycling, raising the rate from 5% to 25% and getting pledges from 125 people to re-cycling 50% of their trash. 
Goals for 2016:
1. Expand Neighborhood Watch groups on streets adjacent to the Park;
2. Bring church and non-profits to the garden to grow food and encourage a healthier diet;
3. Create a community garden at High Rock Park. Our petition to do this was signed by 153 neighbors, 77 of whom would like a plot;
4. Start Camp Creativity, an after-school and summer camp for youth with dysfunctional eating habits who are mainly over-weight or obese. Campers will work in the garden, exercise, learn about nutrition and engage in creative activity from May-October. 
5. Continue our effort to restore voting to the Highlands. Register students at KIPP Academy to vote and engage them in community work; 
6. Work with youth to work in the gardens and on the above efforts. Funded from Youth Works and W.I.B.
7. Again host the World Music Festival this Fall.  

Needs Statement

Most pressing needs:

1.  to pay staff, to manage our garden, which costs $ 5,000 to operate.           
2.  to pay for three Youth Workers - $3,000 a year.                                                                                 
3.  to pay staff to engage neighbors, 325 of whom have attended                  meetings or events. Director spends 1/2 his time applying for grants        instead of engaging neighbors. 
4. To build a garden at High Rock Park. We have collected 300                    signatures of neighbors. Need to negotiate with City.  

CEO Statement

I have worked in community groups since 1964, when I registered voters in Mississippi. I built sub-divisions and houses, worked as Development Director at Somerville Community Corp and as housing project manager at So. Boston Neighborhood Development.
I organized a CDC in Lynn, turning a vacant, historic building into condos. With a grant from Mass. DCR, we planted trees leading into the Highlands. The Ford School principal invited us to meet at the school in December, 2006.
The Coalition is the only neighborhood group in Lynn that brings together people on a variety of social issues and empowers the residents. 
Because of our grass-roots work, Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development awarded us a second grant of $100,000 to find 100 units of housing in need of lead paint abatement. The grant, our main source of income, ends this June. 
Our work in urban agriculture is motivated by the poor eating habits of 50% of youth who are over-weight or obese. Our garden is a source of education and nutrition (junk food is banned).
The garden is a place of beauty (murals, a tableau on evolution) and community gatherings (free lunches during harvest).  We host community pot-lucks there during the summer. 
On the cultural front, supported by Mass. Humanities, we held readings of a Frederick Douglass speech, attracting 40 readers and several hundred people. We produced a documentary History of the Highlands
and host the World Music Festival. 
Lynn is a minority-majority city, which is not reflected in decision-making positions, whether in business, non-profits or government. 
We work closely with Essex County Community Organization, New Lynn Coalition and The Food Project.  
David Gass,  Director

Board Chair Statement

I have lived with my family in the Highlands for 50 years. I chaired My Brother's Table, which has fed thousands, and Lynn Health Task Force, which raised $10 million for the Union Hospital.
The Coalition is tackling serious problems in the Highlands. We worked for seven years with former Ford School principal Dr. Crane at Lynn's only community school, to show how a neighborhood group, allied with a community school, can work on social problems, such as:
  • housing  - 35 students are perpetually homeless; 
  • drug use - the Highlands was dubbed by the US Attorney as the drug capital of the North Shore;
  • domestic abuse  - four women murdered in seven years;
  • the need for adult education - the average schooling for the recent wave of K-1 parents is three years.
Leslie Greenberg, Chair

Geographic Area Served


The Highlands Coalition serves the Highlands neighborhood, an historic area of 1.5 sq. mi. and 13,000 residents with an MFI annual income of $39,000.  It is bounded by Chestnut, Lawton/Rogers, Essex Streets and Western Avenue.  

Organization Categories

  1. Community Improvement, Capacity Building - Community & Neighbourhood Development
  2. Food, Agriculture & Nutrition - Food, Agriculture & Nutrition NEC
  3. Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy - Civil Rights, Social Action, & Advocacy N.E.C.

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Returning voting to the Ford School

The Ford School was a polling place for decades. Through the efforts of the school principal voting steadily increased. In 2002 an Hispanic challenged a white Councilor. City Council, blaming the lack of ‘handicap access, closed the school as a polling place and divided the Highlands into two wards, with voting to take place outside the neighborhood.
Voting has declined disproportionately since then. Aware that voting is power and that middle-income areas of the city turn out five times as many voters as the Highlands, we are working to restore voting to the school. We proved that the school is handicap accessible. Our petition to restore voting to the school was signed by 95% of the 145 people we approached. Elderly, disabled and those without cars especially find it harder to vote. The Election Commissioner will not reinstate voting.
In 2014, we filed a complaint with the city's Human Rights Commission. After an intensive investigation, the Commission unanimously voted to recommend that the City Council work with The Highlands Coalition to return voting to the Ford School. The President of City Council and City Clerk  refused to comply with the Commission's recommendation.  
This year, the current President and Councilors agreed to restore voting to the Highlands. Voting at KIPP Academy was successful and raised the number of voters. However, 50% of registered voters still don't vote.   
Budget  $15,000.00
Category  Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy, General/Other
Population Served Adults Minorities
Program Short-Term Success  Voting in 1/2 of the Highlands increased this year at KIPP Academy. Need to boost higher for the City election next year. 
Program Long-Term Success 
Voting translates to the ability to bring a greater voice and resources to the neighborhood. The previous mayor said to us when we asked for more attention to the rat problem: "You don't vote." 
Success is when Highlanders vote at the same or greater percentage than in middle-income neighborhoods.  
Program Success Monitored By  Voting increases. 
Examples of Program Success  More voters. Last year, only 10% of those registered voted in the city election !

Urban agriculture

Community gardening. We have managed the school garden for six years. Last year we built the Cook St. Park garden and plan to expand that this year. Ours is one of only two school-based gardens in the city and the only one that incorporates school curriculum with the teaching of  botony and nutrition. 
Budget  $15,000
Category  Food, Agriculture & Nutrition, General/Other Agriculture
Population Served Families At-Risk Populations Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Program Short-Term Success 
Engage 30 neighbors, who form Friends of Cook St. Park, in gardening.
HEY Club: lower BMI, improve stamina and physical skills of 12 youth. 
Program Long-Term Success 
Build garden at park.
Engage 600 children and 25 families.
Expand HEY Club for over-weight children. 
Program Success Monitored By  Food Corp members and YMCA counselors.
Examples of Program Success  Youth can swim length of pool, touch toes, do 30 minutes of exercise, touch toes.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Two biggest challenges are:
1. Convincing neighbors to help us build the organization. Many people work two jobs and are raising families, often as single parents. Unless there is a crisis, there is little time for anything except going to an occasional meeting or event.
2. Finding funds to pay staff to carry out the programs.
3. Finding operational funds, not just program-based funds, so that we are able to operate in a professional manner to carry out these programs without worrying about keeping the lights on.


CEO/Executive Director Mr. David Gass
CEO Term Start Dec 2006
CEO Email
CEO Experience Fifty years of community work. See comments. 
Co-CEO David Gass
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


KIPP Academy
The Food Project
New Lynn Coalition
New America Center
Congo Development Center 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 1
Number of Part Time Staff 3
Number of Volunteers 10
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 1
Hispanic/Latino: 2
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 3
Male: 1
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? No
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures No
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy --
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A


Board Chair Mrs. Leslie Greenberg
Board Chair Company Affiliation Lynn Health Task Force
Board Chair Term Apr 2010 - Dec 2016
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term Apr - Mar

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
King Allah Board Member Voting
Sandra Calderon unemployed --
Shamarah Gibson Clerk none Voting
Leslie Greenberg Chair Board Chair/Lynn Health Task Force Voting
Stephen Greenberg Board Member Voting
William Joseph Treasurer Haiti Elders Action League (HEAL) Voting
Louis Yvon Louis self-employed Voting
Ellen Morgan Board Member Voting
Tishlanda Mukala NP PACE-Element Care Voting
Bawa Muvezwa Mass. DEP Voting
Josilane Santos none Voting
Stanley Wotring, Jr. Board Member Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 8
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 3
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 6
Male: 6
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % 85%
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Under Development
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 10%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

The Board has 12 members: all live in Lynn, 11 in the Highlands. Most have been involved in community work for more than 20 years. Members are aware of the problems and committed to work on them.  

Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $48,371 $61,140 $57,870
Total Expenses $48,209 $60,520 $58,470

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$11,000 $17,947 $4,300
Government Contributions $36,371 $42,593 $52,650
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- $4,500
    Local $36,371 $42,593 $48,150
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $1,000 $600 $920
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue -- -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- -- --
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $47,132 $58,140 $57,715
Administration Expense $1,077 $2,380 $755
Fundraising Expense -- -- --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.00 1.01 0.99
Program Expense/Total Expenses 98% 96% 99%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 0% 0% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $1,100 $1,140 $0
Current Assets $1,100 $1,140 $0
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Total Net Assets $1,100 $1,140 $0

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value $0.00
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities inf inf nan

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% nan%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Incorporated 2010. Since revenue last year exceeded $25,000, we will file a 990 for 2013. 

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above are per the organization's internal records, as the organization files a 990 Postcard or 990-N with the IRS. 


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

1.     Build a community garden at High Rock Park. Have 275 names of         those who support the idea and 150 who want a plot. The Food               Project agreed to build /maintain it. KIPP and Girls, Inc support the         idea.

3.     Intern students at No. Shore Community College;  

4.     Expand garden into nutrition/science center;              

5.     Boost voting this year from 11% to 33% in Ward 4. 

6.     Create Neighborhood Watch to deter crime and empower residents.  


2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

Garden at High Rock Park: Get permission from the City.  
Office: open outreach/service center. Be more visible, develop a membership. Encourage people to work with us.  
Voting: phone-bank and door-knock before election.  

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

Eight years of experience in community work. Contact list of 350 neighbors. Our Board members have been community activists for most of their adult lives. 

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

Feedback from neighbors, City Hall, local press. Gain membership, more people attend meetings and take part in our activities.    

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

We have:
A. Held a Peace-in-the-City rally of 600 and a march of 200 against gang and domestic violence:
B. Built a school garden that won 73 prizes at the Topsfield Fair. Trained 60 youth workers in urban agriculture;
C. Planted 120 street trees:
D. Build a community garden at Cook St. Park. Installed play equipment at Henry Ave. Park;
E. Held meetings for seven years attracting 350 people;
F. Held voting forums for School Committee and Mayoral races:  
G. Sponsored planting and harvest festivals at the Ford School, attracting 5-600 people at each event;
H. Created a documentary on the history of the Highlands;
I  Hosted readings of Frederick Douglass' 1852 speech, "What to the          Slave is the 4th of July?" attracting several hundred; 
J. Enabled 150 housing unit owners to delead their apartments.
K. Saved families from eviction, enabling them to buy back their                  homes;  
L. Hosted two Equal Rights Forums.  
M. Won 1/2 the battle to restore voting to the neighborhood - in 2016.