AHA! Attitude. Harmony. Achievement. (Santa Barbara, CA)

Work Address

  • Organization Name:AHA! Attitude. Harmony. Achievement.
  • Address:1209 De la Vina St.
    Suite A
    Santa Barbara, CA 93101
    United States

Work Web



  • Mission:
  • AHA! is dedicated to preventing bullying and to the development of character, imagination, social-emotional intelligence and social conscience in teenagers. Through an innovative social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum, AHA! helps teens set goals, surmount challenges, communicate effectively, manage their emotions, support their peers, and improve campus climates.

  • Overview:
  • Bullying, school violence, and their consequences are proving devastating for too many young people. Our most vulnerable fellow humans are being targeted daily. AHA! is the only program in Santa Barbara directly addressing these issues through evidence-based research and producing consistent results. Due to the hateful conversation in the media lately, we have seen a sudden rise in meanness, racism, and sexism. If we want youth to be and do good, it's not enough for us to sit back and hope for the best. We need to take direct guiding action. AHA! is at the forefront of this movement.

    We teach competencies that enhance empathy, resiliency, gratitude, and acceptance/celebration of difference; we teach them how to be aware of the damaging impacts of "-isms" and how to interrupt and prevent bullying; we help connect youth that might otherwise not reach out to one another across lines of clique, color or socioeconomic status; we teach them to practice mindfulness; and we help youth navigate healthier relationships with teachers and other adults in their lives. Our method for working with teens is not didactic, but is based in core principles of mutuality, reciprocity, joy, and collective responsibility. In a ratio of no fewer than one adult per six youth, adults and youth partner in exploring social and emotional skills as a diverse, highly participatory learning community. Our after-school and summer programs are offered by donation. We provide a safe and welcoming space for learning and connection during high-risk after-school and summer hours where youth might otherwise be without adult support or supervision.

    In 2016-17, in schools, we will work with the freshman classes of Carpinteria, San Marcos, and Santa Barbara High School, and youth at La Cuesta Continuation High School. Nine after-school groups (Guys’, two sections of Girls’ Group, Carpinteria High School After-School, two sections of Ally Leadership Training, Peace Builders On the Road, Creative Discoveries, Friday Music Group, Sing It Out), twice-yearly Parent Groups, once-weekly drop-in groups during school breaks, and twice-yearly Outdoor Days will also be offered. A total of 125 youth are served in out-of-school programs each year, and 3000+ are served in in-school programs, including AHA! Peace Builders.

    Although our freshman and after-school/summer (out-of-school) groups continue to be of tremendous value, we are especially excited about the way our AHA! Peace Builders programs have taken off. Educational research shows unequivocally that positive, welcoming campus culture is paramount for student well-being, achievement, and safety from bullying and violence. We developed this program as a grassroots effort to empower youth to transform their own school campuses to make them safe and welcoming for all.

    Our AHA! Peace Builders program began in 2013. It empowers youth to be peacemakers and social-emotional educators with their peers, families, and communities. With skilled AHA! facilitators, youth in the program develop actionable skills and strategies for creating peaceful schools, homes, and communities, starting with a 10-hour workshop where they learn to conduct Connection Circles, a forum for honest sharing and deep listening. Circles can involve anywhere from two people to 30 and can be held virtually anyplace. AHA! Peace Builder students learn to use language in a culturally sensitive way, to interrupt bullying non-violently, and to approach conflict restoratively. They commit to holding a specific number of circles, which they log in our unique PeaceQ online application (www.peaceq.com) – along with Peace Points (pro-social behaviors), self-care points, and positive acknowledgements of others. Facilitator-led AHA! Peace Builder club meetings on their campuses continue learning and engagement throughout the year. A spring convening supports them in inter-school connection and celebration of their achievements.

    In 2015-16, AHA! Peace Builders served 150 youth from Santa Barbara, San Marcos, Dos Pueblos, and La Cuesta High Schools, who oby the end of the year will have outreached to over 5000 peers and community members via Connection Circles. A modified middle school version of AHA! Peace Builders and Leadership group debuted in 2015-16, working with 38 at-risk youth for at Santa Barbara Junior High for a full year to prepare them to enter high school as AHA! Peace Builders and capable leaders. Through AHA! Peace Builders Initiatives, we intend to serve 150+ youth in grades 10-12 and (where funding allows) 70 total middle school students at three area middle schools. This is particularly important in middle schools, as research shows that bullying and violence are worse issues in grades 6-8 than in grades 9-12. We anticipate that each of these students will outreach to 40-50 additional people apiece through Connection Circles, extending AHA!'s reach well beyond its direct service to 3000+.

  • History:
  • AHA! was created by Jennifer Freed, PhD, and Rendy Freedman, MFT as a response to the Columbine shootings in 1999, with the mission of development of character, imagination, emotional intelligence and social conscience in teenagers, through an innovative SEL (social and emotional learning) curriculum. Under the umbrella of the non-profit Family Therapy Institute (FTI), AHA! began to deliver an innovative curriculum that develops character, emotional intelligence, imagination, and social conscience in teens ⎯ first, as an after-school group for teens that focused on exploring relationship, and then as a free summer program. Over the years following, in-school programs were added across the district. We operated as a program of FTI until January 1, 2011, when we began operating as our own 501(c) 3 under IRS tax ID # 20-4418873, with its own Board of Directors. AHA! began a period of rapid expansion, going from service to 500 or fewer youth per year to its current 3000+ in a five-year span. Administrative staff - first a Grant Writer, then a Development Director, and then an Admin Assistant - came on, and all staff expanded their responsibilities to sustain AHA!'s rapidly growing programs. Since 2012, AHA! has held two major fundraising events each year: the Fall Hike for AHA! and the spring Sing It Out concert event. Securing a dedicated space in 2013 helped enormously to sustain this growth and to provide additional space for groups and staff meetings. AHA! Peace Builders joined AHA!'s offerings in 2013.

    The Santa Barbara School Board has pointed out that AHA! is the only organization in the area conducting research-proven programs for transforming campuses into more peaceful places. Santa Barbara School District Superintendent David Cash, PhD, invited AHA! to present on its Peace Builders program at the 2015 statewide conference for school board members in San Diego, California. Executive Directors Jennifer Freed and Rendy Freedman traveled to the conference with the AHA! Peace Builders leadership team and two participant youth. Their presentation was a favorite at the conference; it inspired many inquiries about bringing the AHA! Peace Builders model beyond the borders of Santa Barbara County. Dr. Freed and the AHA! Peace Builders team are conducting numerous presentations and a webinar about the program.

    In 2009, we were named a Local Hero by the Santa Barbara Independent. In 2010, the City of Santa Barbara named us Youth Agency of the Year; and in Fall of 2010, AHA! received the Be the Change award from the South Coast Teen Coalition. We moved into our own dedicated space in downtown Santa Barbara in 2013, where we maintain our administrative offices and hold some of our groups. (Other out-of-school groups are held in a space at the campus of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara.)

    Carpinteria High School principal Gerard Cornejo, who invited AHA! to serve his freshmen in response to a major bullying and clique conflict problem, has attributed a 72% drop in suspensions to the AHA! program. SB High has reported a reduction of period truancies by half in classes served by AHA!. At San Marcos High, administrators report a significant drop in disciplinary referrals and suspensions, particularly those involving conflict between students. In 2013, the Independent honored two of our facilitators, Martin Leyva and Paul Lewis, with Local Heroes awards. In 2014, AHA! was one of 8 organizations across the U.S. to win the prestigious Susan Crown Exchange award, which recognizes superior after-school programs that incorporate social-emotional learning (SEL) into their curriculum; with the other selected organizations, AHA! was part of developing a nationwide best-practices model for teaching SEL in after-school programs. SB School Superintendent David Cash has called AHA! “disruptive innovators” and our Peace Builders program “not just a home run, but a grand slam.”

    Early in 2014, we were selected by the Susan Crown Exchange from a pool of 240 applicant organizations as one of the top eight after-school social-emotional learning initiatives in the US. We participated in a series of roundtables and research initiatives on our work with youth that were then woven into a best-practices SEL Field Guide to be used by educators and youth program leaders at the national level. SCE’s research on our programs, as well as ongoing use of third-party research instruments measuring the impact of AHA! Peace Builders, AHA!’s other in-school programs serving four area high schools, and our after-school and summer intensive programs have provided a rich and substantial evidence base for our work. Research summaries are available upon request.

  • Year established:1999
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None

Types of funding being sought (i.e. funding type)

  • None specified

Program areas of focus and activity (i.e. funding cause)

  • None specified

Geographic areas of focus and activity (i.e. geographic area)

  • None specified

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:204418873
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:
  • Care Of Name:% JENNIFER FREED
  • Organization Address:1209 DE LA VINA ST STE A
  • Organization City:SANTA BARBARA
  • Organization State:CA
  • Organization Zip:93101-5172
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):1, 2
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Charitable Organization, Educational Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:December, 1969
  • Deductibility Code:1
  • Foundation Code:15
  • Foundation Code Desc.:Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
  • Activity Code(s):
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):
  • Organization Code:1 (Corporation)
  • Exempt Org. Status Code:01 (Unconditional Exemption)
  • Tax Period:June, 2016
  • Filing Requirement Category:01 (990 (all other) or 990EZ return)
  • Accounting Period:June
  • NTEE Code:F602
  • Asset Amount:$313,987
  • Asset Code:4 ($100,000 - $499,999)
  • Income Amount:$590,588
  • Income Code:5 ($500,000 - $999,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$577,969
  • Last Updated:3/25/2017 6:41:00 pm

This information is directly from the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File at Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. This information is not under the control of the Common Grant Application and is collected and compiled and can only be changed by the IRS.