Share |

Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts Inc.

 527 Columbia Road
 Boston, MA 02125
[P] (410) 533-2210
[F] --
www.levelgroundmma.org
[email protected]
Alexandra Fuller
Facebook Twitter
INCORPORATED: 2013
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 46-3915852

LAST UPDATED: 08/31/2017
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No

Summary

Mission StatementMORE »

Level Ground (LG) spurs urban youth to embrace a mindset of grit and resilience, and apply these values in the pursuit of their ambitions. LG couples athletic training with mentorship, college access, and workforce development so that youth can enter college and meaningful careers. With the assistance of LG staff and mentors, high school students map out their career interests and are placed on one or more tracks: college, technical degree, or workforce development.

Level Ground currently serves 120+ youth across 4 sites: the Egleston Square YMCA, Trotter Middle School, Joseph Lee Middle School, and Boston Day and Evening.

In September 2015, LG launched a 12-month Apprenticeship Program where 12 youth are currently pursuing a certification to become fitness instructors and personal trainers. To date, one LG student has received permanent employment at one of our gym partners, and 4 students have been placed with job shadowing partners. We expect 7 more students to enter job shadowing by April 2016. LG has 5 gym partners that have committed to hiring and/or providing job shadowing to youth. We aim to double this number by Spring 2016.

Mission Statement

Level Ground (LG) spurs urban youth to embrace a mindset of grit and resilience, and apply these values in the pursuit of their ambitions. LG couples athletic training with mentorship, college access, and workforce development so that youth can enter college and meaningful careers. With the assistance of LG staff and mentors, high school students map out their career interests and are placed on one or more tracks: college, technical degree, or workforce development.

Level Ground currently serves 120+ youth across 4 sites: the Egleston Square YMCA, Trotter Middle School, Joseph Lee Middle School, and Boston Day and Evening.

In September 2015, LG launched a 12-month Apprenticeship Program where 12 youth are currently pursuing a certification to become fitness instructors and personal trainers. To date, one LG student has received permanent employment at one of our gym partners, and 4 students have been placed with job shadowing partners. We expect 7 more students to enter job shadowing by April 2016. LG has 5 gym partners that have committed to hiring and/or providing job shadowing to youth. We aim to double this number by Spring 2016.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2016 to Dec 31, 2016
Projected Income $180,000.00
Projected Expense $130,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Athletic Training
  • College Access (Track 2)
  • Student Trainer Certification Program (Track 1)
  • Workforce Development/Employment Referral Program (Track 3)

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown (%)

No data available

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


Overview

Mission Statement

Level Ground (LG) spurs urban youth to embrace a mindset of grit and resilience, and apply these values in the pursuit of their ambitions. LG couples athletic training with mentorship, college access, and workforce development so that youth can enter college and meaningful careers. With the assistance of LG staff and mentors, high school students map out their career interests and are placed on one or more tracks: college, technical degree, or workforce development.

Level Ground currently serves 120+ youth across 4 sites: the Egleston Square YMCA, Trotter Middle School, Joseph Lee Middle School, and Boston Day and Evening.

In September 2015, LG launched a 12-month Apprenticeship Program where 12 youth are currently pursuing a certification to become fitness instructors and personal trainers. To date, one LG student has received permanent employment at one of our gym partners, and 4 students have been placed with job shadowing partners. We expect 7 more students to enter job shadowing by April 2016. LG has 5 gym partners that have committed to hiring and/or providing job shadowing to youth. We aim to double this number by Spring 2016.

Background Statement

Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts was piloted in July 2013, and formally incorporated in November 2013. The organization was fiscally sponsored by the Black Ministerial Alliance from December 2013 - August 2015, and is currently fiscally sponsored by the United Night of Worship. The organization was originally launched in partnership with the Egleston Square YMCA, serving 3-5 kids in Roxbury once per week. However, demand for LG’s training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing quickly grew, and over the course of 2014, LG scaled the evening program to two times per week and launched sites at Joseph Lee Middle School and Trotter Middle School. Additionally, LG coupled tutoring, life skills, and professional development programs in conjunction with athletic training sessions, as well as a traveling competition team, and scaled these programs during 2015. Simultaneously, LG created an in-house employment and internship program in partnership with YOU Boston, which has since evolved into our Student Certification program. Because of the commercialized nature of Mixed Martial Arts, we initially found difficulty in getting institutional funders to immediately ‘catch the vision,’ and thus were initially heavily reliant on donors that were often practitioners of the sport themselves. Through these efforts, we have been able to source dozens of volunteers and mentors for our young people. This funding has allowed us to demonstrate the impact our of program in our students’ lives both on and off the mat , and we are now aggressively pursuing support from foundations and corporate sponsors.

Impact Statement

In 2015, Level Ground:

  • Ensured 100% of graduating seniors have entered college, workforce development, or meaningful employment. 
  • In September 2015, launched our pilot Certification Program for 10 students to become fitness instructors and personal trainers. To date, one youth has received permanent employment, 4 youth will start job shadowing with our partners in January 2016.  In partnership with YOU Boston, 2 additional youth have joined the cohort, for a current size of 12 students.
  • Held 100+ life skills and professional development classes for 30+ youth; hosted 175+ athletic training sessions for 120+ youth.
  • Provided in-house employment for 6 youth and internships for 5 additional youth; linked 10+ youth with workforce development opportunities with partner organizations.
  •  Linked 6 high-risk youth to individualized, professional mentors 
  • More than doubled our revenues from 2014, including support from The Boston Foundation, TUGG, and Income Research and Management.
  • Recognized in The Boston Globe, CBS News Boston, Boston.com, The Improper Bostonian, and the Huffington Post.

Needs Statement

  • Scale compensation for Executive Director, and hire full-time Program Coordinator
  • Define strategy to fundraise for our Mixed Martial Arts studio
  • Recruit board members that can help spearhead fundraising strategy, strategy for opening studio; obtain 501c3 status
  • Ensure youth in Student Certification program successfully transition into job shadowing and receive offer for hire after 12 months of entering program
  • Ideally, youth in Certification program will receive stipends during training phase and bi-weekly pay during job shadowing phase; our youth are living at or below the poverty line, and paying them will ensure that they do not have to choose between participating in the Certification program and pursuing paid opportunities that will likely not provide the same caliber of professional development

CEO Statement

--

Board Chair Statement

--

Geographic Area Served

City of Boston- Mattapan
City of Boston- Roxbury
City of Boston- South Dorchester
City of Boston- North Dorchester
The majority of Level Ground youth lives in the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.  Level Ground hosts athletic sites in Roxbury and Dorchester, with professional development sessions held in our administrative space in the Financial District.

Organization Categories

  1. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs
  2. Employment - Job Training
  3. Recreation & Sports -

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

No

Programs

Athletic Training

Level Ground leverages training in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) to create a positive relationship with youth.  MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and combines the striking and grappling techniques found in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Boxing, and Wrestling.  We use the sport to espouse the following values:
 
-Discipline: The mastery of BJJ requires intense mental and physical discipline and focus. The athlete is required to spend countless hours conceptualizing, drilling, and practicing a single technique in order to execute it flawlessly. Students learn that they must balance training with adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and positive relationships with teammates and instructors in order to excel as an athlete.
 
-Respect: Practicing respect is the first value the students learn at Level Ground. Students and instructors must demonstrate tangible signs of respect by bowing as they enter and leave the mats, provide a verbal form of respect and understanding after each member speaks (by saying “oss,” a conventional sign of reverence in BJJ), and shake hands before and after sparring (which we refer to “rolling”).
 
-Humility: The complexity of BJJ technique demands that students cast away their pride and embrace a teachable attitude in order to excel. Students learn that there is always a more knowledgeable person to learn from, which is reinforced through rolling. By rolling with partners that are more technical than themselves, they are placed in a vulnerable position in which they have to ‘submit’ to the other person by “tapping out.” We teach our students to embrace “tapping out,” as it serves as an opportunity to learn and grow.
 
-Tenacity: Students are constantly humbled, as well as mentally and physically pushed to their limits. As such, they must envelop a strong sense of confidence, resilience, and tenacity to keep coming back to the mat. They learn that through a supportive team and their own self-determination, they can exceed their own expectations and strive for goals that they never thought were possible to attain.
 
-Self-Control: The BJJ practitioner cannot succeed in a match by leveraging brute force, as they will become quickly exhausted when rolling with a more technical partner. Instead, they must re-direct their strength to the mental focus required to master technique. Additionally, every student learns to exhibit self-control in order to avoid injury to themselves and their partners.
Budget  --
Category  Recreation & Sports, General/Other Martial Arts
Population Served At-Risk Populations Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Students form trust with LG staff and volunteers through the sport, and start to take advantage of the "off-the-mat" components that the organization offers.  High school students are placed on a college access and/or workforce development track.
Program Long-Term Success  Students will embrace LG values learned through the sport and apply them to school, work, relationships, and the pursuit of their ambitions.  Students find a second family in Level Ground's support system of staff, volunteers, and students, and become leaders at Level Ground and in their community.
Program Success Monitored By  Program success is monitored first and foremost by the students' application of LG values during athletic training and "off-the-mat" programming. Additionally, we monitor student attachment to the LG community by attendance, communication with staff, volunteers, and peers, as well as group dialogue after training.  This dialogue, called "Props and Opps," provides an opportunity for students to acknowledge and thank individuals in the group, as well as identify an 'opportunity for growth' for themselves.
Examples of Program Success 
Embrace values to pursue a healthy lifestyle:
One young person, "E," arrived to LG quite overweight.  After months of disciplined training, "E" managed to loose 130 lbs.  In fact, he was the first LG student to be promoted to blue belt, and remains one of LG's most active and successful competitors.
 
Embrace values to pursue college or career:
100% of LG juniors and seniors are currently on our college access and/or workforce development tracks. 

College Access (Track 2)

Level Ground offers after-school tutoring before athletic training to bolster student grades, as well as assist students with their college applications.  LG maintains partnerships with Foundation Year at Northeastern University and Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in order to guide students towards achieving a four-year or technical degree, depending on their interests. 
Budget  --
Category  Education, General/Other Afterschool Enrichment
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) At-Risk Populations Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success  Students enter college.
Program Long-Term Success  Students achieve a meaningful career.
Program Success Monitored By  Students successfully submit college applications and enter college.
Examples of Program Success  Through Level Ground, 4 students have entered Northeastern University's Foundation Year program.  LG has assisted dozens of other students with college applications, and provides ongoing academic support to students twice per week.

Student Trainer Certification Program (Track 1)

In September 2015, LG launched a 12-month Student Trainer program where 12 youth are currently pursuing a certification to become fitness instructors and personal trainers. To date, one LG student (a recent high-school dropout) has received permanent employment at one of our gym partners, 4 students have entered job shadowing, 5 partner gyms have committed hosting students to job shadow, and 2 partners have committed to hiring multiple students. We expect to double this number of partners by April 2016.

Students complete two phases of the program. Phase 1 includes a 3-month training period where students complete: Leadership and Professional Development, Competency in Fitness Instruction, and Instruction at LG Community Classes. Students will participate in a weekly, 90-minute study group for the National Academy of Sports Medicine Personal Trainer Examination throughout the duration of their Apprenticeship. We hope to scale funding so that students receive a $400 stipend upon successful completion of Phase 1.


Phase 2 consists of a 9-month private sector job placement at a partner gym. Additionally, students instruct at LG Corporate Classes, receive individualized mentoring, and take the NASM exam during their last month in the program. Once funding allows, LG aims to pay students an hourly wage during the course of their shadowing experience to promote confidence and career readiness.
Budget  --
Category  Employment, General/Other Job Training & Employment
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Unemployed, Underemployed, Dislocated Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 
  • Minimum of 85% of students successfully complete Phase 1 (including all required hours) within 3 months of start date.

  • 100% of students that complete Phase 1 placed at private-sector gyms for hands on job training

  • Minimum of 67% students successfully complete Phase 2 within 12 months of start date, including all required hours

  • Minimum of 67% students obtain permanent employment within the fitness industry by end of program

  • 100% of youth that do not complete the program are linked to community partners for alternative workforce development services or employment

  • Minimum of 40% of students that complete their student trainer certification pass the NASM Personal Training exam within 12 months of start date, and 60% pass within 18 months
Program Long-Term Success 

The Student Trainer program provides an opportunity for future career advancement and higher future salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs within the fitness industry are expected to grow by 23.2% by 2020, with personal trainer and instructor jobs driving the majority of growth: these jobs are expected to grow by 31.7% by 2020. In Boston, the median annual fitness instructor salary is $40K and median annual personal trainer salary is $60K (with salaries ranging upward of $60K and $75K, respectively.) These potential salaries represent a minimum of 125-275% increase of the median salary that Black and Latinos earn per capita in Boston ($21K and $20K, respectively.)

The Training program will also serve the purpose of decreasing the youth violence/delinquency. Of our 10 current student trainers, none have engaged in violent activity during their placement to date. Our experience is supported by recent research. For example, the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study on a Chicago-based youth program that incorporated jobs, professional mentorship, and socio-emotional learning classes. The largest decreases in violent crimes came months after the program ended, meaning that the experience may have prompted lasting behavioral change. LG anticipates apprentices to experience similar lasting behavioral changes.
Program Success Monitored By  We monitor students' progression by implementing the Massachusetts Work Based Learning Plan over on a bi-monthly basis.  Additionally, we study the impact on aggression and delinquent behavior by implementing the SAGE Baseline Study on a bi-monthly basis.  Finally, we monitor the number of students prepared to transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2, and solicit bi-weekly feedback from work placement partners.
Examples of Program Success  Within one month of entering the program, "W," who had recently dropped out of high school, received permanent employment at The UFC Gym Boston.  There, "W" teaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and performs various duties at the gym.  In January, another student, "A" was placed with The Club by George Foreman III for job shadowing.  She was originally supposed to perform strictly desk and cleaning duties for 2 months, but within 2 days of working at the location, was invited to start shadowing instructors within their classes because of her conduct and maturity.  Finally, 3 additional students will start shadowing at partners by the end of January, 2016.  

Workforce Development/Employment Referral Program (Track 3)

For students that we cannot serve through the Student Trainer program and that do not want to go to college, we offer a network of community-based organization that we refer youth to.  We realize that one size does not fit all, and believe strongly in not 'forcing' the Student Trainer program, or college, on to youth.  Instead, we want to empower their vision for themselves by assembling a variety of partners that we refer them to.  These include Year Up, Resilient Coders, and YOU Boston.
Budget  --
Category  Employment, General/Other Job Training & Employment
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Unemployed, Underemployed, Dislocated Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success  Define student interests and link them to the appropriate partner.
Program Long-Term Success  Students achieve a meaningful career in a field that they are passionate about.
Program Success Monitored By  Perform 'check-ins' with youth to determine goals and vision.  Link them with the appropriate partner and hold them accountable to taking advantage of the opportunities that partners provide.
Examples of Program Success  LG has successfully linked 15+ youth to external community partners, job training, and employment opportunities outside of our Track 1 and Track 2 partners.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

--

Management


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Alexandra C. Fuller
CEO Term Start Nov 2013
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience
At age 26, Alexandra Fuller piloted a Mixed Martial Arts class with 3 students in urban Boston. After seeing the high growth potential of the program, Ali quit her job with 5 months worth of savings to found Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts (LG) in October 2013. Under Ali’s leadership as Executive Director, LG has grown to serve 100+ students weekly across 3 sites. It the first nonprofit in the U.S. to leverage the sport of MMA to advance holistic, positive youth development by coupling athletics with mentorship, academic advancement, and employment opportunities.
As a female leading a male-dominated organization within the male-dominated space of MMA, Ali has effectively cultivated a leadership style that blends a demand for excellence with an emphasis on inspiring a shared vision among students and staff. Prior to founding LG, Ali worked with 12 nonprofits in roles ranging from direct service to street children in Brazil to micro-finance consulting in Haiti. Ali earned her MBA from Simmons, and received her undergraduate degrees from Penn State.
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --

Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --

Affiliations

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

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --

Collaborations

--

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

--

Foundation Comments

--

Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 1
Number of Part Time Staff 2
Number of Volunteers 15
Number of Contract Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

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

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers N/A
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
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 Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Quarterly

Governance


Board Chair Ms. Tamsin Elias
Board Chair Company Affiliation Third Sector New England
Board Chair Term Jan 2016 - Dec 2018
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
John Connors Connors MMA Voting
Tamsin Elias Third Sector New England Voting
Bryan Medina ITG Voting
Sajeev Popat Insight Squared Voting
Chris Titus Future Chefs 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: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 3
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 1
Other (if specified): Indian
Gender Female: 1
Male: 4
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 4
Board Meeting Attendance % --
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Under Development
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

    --

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

--

Foundation Comments

--

Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown (%)

No data available

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2016 to Dec 31, 2016
Projected Income $180,000.00
Projected Expense $130,000.00
Form 990s

2015 Form 990

Audit Documents --
IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 --
Total Revenue $75,090 $41,978 --
Total Expenses $69,470 $36,471 --

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 --
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$32,500 $5,100 --
Government Contributions $0 $0 --
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $42,049 $29,974 --
Indirect Public Support -- $771 --
Earned Revenue $541 -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- -- --
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- $6,134 --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 --
Program Expense $52,082 $29,177 --
Administration Expense $15,399 $7,294 --
Fundraising Expense $1,990 -- --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.08 1.15 --
Program Expense/Total Expenses 75% 80% --
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 3% 0% --

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 --
Total Assets $0 $0 --
Current Assets $0 $0 --
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 --
Current Liabilities $0 $0 --
Total Net Assets $0 $0 --

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

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

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 2.00

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? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 --
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities -- -- --

Long Term Solvency

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

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

--

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per LG MMA, to show its financial history so far. Additional data will be posted as it becomes available. Please note, asset and liability data was tracked at the fiscal sponsor level only. 
 
Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts Inc. was previously fiscally sponsored by Boston Youth Wrestling Inc. through late 2016. Prior to that, the organization was fiscally sponsored by the United Night of Worship Inc. (from Sept. 2015 to April 2016) and by the Black Ministerial Alliance from (December 2013 to August 2015).  

Documents


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.

Impact

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?

Level Ground aims to cultivate a mindset of grit and resilience in our young people through the practice of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Wrestling, and Judo. These sports are incredibly demanding, both physically and mentally, necessitating the practitioner to adopt an extraordinary degree of determination. Simultaneously, we provide training in a supportive, inclusive environment, which most students label as their ‘second family.’ We believe that if young people have both the mentality and support system to tackle the challenges posed by poverty and violence, they may overcome barriers to success and achieve their goals. Our goal is that 100% of graduating seniors will transition into college, trade school, or meaningful employment.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

Level Ground provides ‘off-the-mat’ programming that includes academic advancement, life skills, and workforce development. With the help of LG staff, mentors, and volunteers, students determine if they want to pursue college, a technical degree, or employment after high school. Students are then placed on one or more of these tracks, where they are held accountable and linked to relevant community partners. Partners include Foundation Year at Northeastern University, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, YearUp, and YOU Boston.


Level Ground’s evening program includes one hour of academic tutoring, a half hour of life skills, and athletic training. Additionally, in September 2015, LG launched our 12-month Student Certification Program for 12 students. The program consists of 2 phases; Phase 1 includes 3 months of leadership development, technical fitness instruction, and professional development. Phase 2 is composed of 9 months of professional mentorship and job training at one of our partner gyms (including The Club, The UFC Gym, Broadway Jiu Jitsu, Redline Fight Sports, and Combat Sports.) Certification Students also participate in a year-long study group for the National Academy of Sports Medicine exam where they may obtain their personal trainer certification.

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

  • Staff - our Executive Director, Alexandra Fuller, worked with 12 nonprofits prior to founding Level Ground. Roles included development, program development and implementation, case management, volunteer management, and evaluation. Our experienced instructors include Hudson Henriques, Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with 5+ year of youth work experience, and Kin Moy, professional fighter and fitness instructor. Additionally, our Lead Designer and Program Coordinator, Fredy Melo, plays the dual roles of cultivating the Level Ground brand and program implementation. These individuals are passionate about Level Ground’s mission, highly skilled within their given fields, and maintain a strong camaraderie while challenging one another’s assumptions to push the organization forward.

  • Volunteers - Level Ground is fortunate to have 12+ regular volunteers, with dozens more providing one-off instruction. Level Ground enjoys a great deal of support from the local combat sports community from which we source volunteers, financial, and in-kind support.

  • Culture - due to the nature of the sport, LG uniquely creates an environment of rigor, inclusion, and family. This culture pushes students to take ownership over their training experience as well as their studies and trainings, and encourages them to hold one another accountable. Additionally, our culture organically teaches students discipline, respect, and humility, and encourages them to ask for help and be vulnerable.

  • Partners - Level Ground fosters collaboration with community partners as much as possible. We do not try to “keep” students to ourselves but encourage them pursue opportunities with our partners, particularly partners that specialize in areas outside of our core expertise.

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

  • Student connection to the Level Ground community - we believe that everything begins with the relationships we foster with and among students. We regularly administer student surveys to assess student connection to the organization and how this influences their sense of hope and determination.

  • Increased leadership, confidence, and self-efficacy

  • Student has selected track(s) (college, technical degree, and workforce development/employment) and are on track to successfully transition after high school through in-house and partner services

  • Certification Students are further evaluated by: 1) change in aggressive or delinquent behavior, according to SAGE Baseline Survey, 2) change in work ethic and professional skills, according to Massachusetts Workbased Learning Plan, 2) Successful completion of Phases 1 and 2, 3) Obtaining job shadowing, 4) Obtaining permanent employment, 4) Passing NASM exam

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

Many of our accomplishments were detailed in previous sections. However, we are currently determining how to formalize our Student Certification program to ensure successful transition into jobs within the fitness industry. Additionally, we aim to launch a Corporate Wellness Program centered around Kickboxing Fitness and Women’s Self-Defense. We have successfully piloted the program, but are yet to secure ongoing corporate clients outside of Northeastern University. Finally, we will need to determine a strategic plan on how to fundraise for and launch our Mixed Martial Arts studio, which will provide affordable classes to non-LG students, and will be run in large part by LG youth.