AHA! Means Epiphany

By Giving List Staff   |   October 26, 2021

For the organization known as AHA! (which stands for “Attitude, Harmony, Achievement”), 22 years is long enough to have had a lot of epiphanies on how to improve the social and emotional intelligence of thousands of teenagers, teachers, and parents who benefit from their programs.

AHA!’s in-school programs bring social-emotional learning (SEL) into classrooms, helping students learn to listen deeply, communicate clearly, and appreciate — even celebrate — differences. (Anyone who doubts that SEL can make school campuses safer and happier and improve academics should be reassured by this: at one struggling high school that received AHA!’s in-school programming, suspensions dropped 70 percent and standardized test scores rose by 11 points.) AHA! groups for adults have radically enhanced the social and emotional wellness of parents and guardians.

These programs are the combined legacy of an organization that has helped more than 25,000 middle and high school students (and adults too!) become more mindful, aware, connected, empathetic, and resilient. 

In June, the nonprofit launched the AHA! Digital Cleanse, taking a group of nearly 40 teenagers and facilitators on a five-day retreat at El Capitan Canyon. Screen-free adventures included horseback riding, kayaking, creative arts projects, music, and theater/movement improvisation. “All devices went into a lockbox, and we did a deep dive into connecting with nature and each other,” says AHA! Senior Director of Development Molly Green. “We hoped to not only wean teens from being constantly attached to their devices, but also to discover and enjoy what is possible when they put them away.”

A growing body of research continues to establish a link between teen addiction to electronic devices and their risk of anxiety and depression. The Digital Cleanse addresses this issue through the proven health-promoting power of nature and through socially and emotionally intelligent activities that build self-awareness, self-confidence, listening and communication skills, and sense of belonging. More Digital Cleanse retreats are being planned for 2022. 

The importance of AHA!’s work has only grown over the year and a half of the ongoing COVID pandemic. “Kids are really struggling,” says Green. “Our community has seen an increase in instances of self-harm and multiple suicide attempts.” In all its programs, AHA! works to help teenagers remember what it’s like to connect in person, human to human, deeply and vulnerably — the most important antidote to the distress of separateness and fear.


Attitude, Harmony, Achievement

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(805) 770-7200 x 2
Senior Director of Development  Molly Green


AHA! equips teenagers, educators, and parents with social and emotional intelligence to dismantle apathy, prevent despair, and interrupt hate-based behavior.

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We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.

It’s never been harder to be a teenager. Social isolation, skyrocketing gun violence, social media divisiveness, bullying and discrimination, and persistent anxiety about an uncertain world have led to unprecedented levels of mental health issues in youth. For me – as a donor, volunteer, and now board member of AHA! – I know we must show up for our teenagers now more than ever, and this program is the surest way I know to make a profound difference. AHA! provides lifetime tools for social and emotional well-being, enabling teens to better care for themselves, each other, and their communities.
Justine Roddick
AHA! Board Member

Providing a Path to Peace

All donations to AHA! go to direct services for its programs, as one of the nonprofit’s longtime supporters continues to cover operational expenses. A gift of $25,000 enables AHA! to offer one school a customized AHA! Peace Builders curriculum emphasizing empathy, agency, and kindness; this would serve up to 40 students for the full school year. Gifts of any size are more than welcome and allow AHA! to continue to provide all of its SEL-based in-school, after-school, and summer programs for students, parents, and teachers.

Key Supporters

Lisa and Bryan Babcock
Susan Budinger
Jennifer and Peter Buffett
Daun and Daniel Dees
Lucy and Mary Firestone
Lisa Foley
Kerrilee and Martin Gore
Nancy Grinstein and Neal Rabin
Karen and Bayard Hollins
Beryl and Neil Kreisel
Jill Martin
Natalie Orfalea and Lou Buglioli
Nora McNeely Hurley and
Michael Hurley
Marla McNally Phillips and
Lee Phillips
Stacy and Ron Pulice
Justine Roddick and Tina Schlieske
Rand Rosenberg
Leanne Schlinger
Susan and Bobby Shand
Regina Scully
The Smidt Family
Norm Waitt