Our History

Jerry Spanos, founder and CEO of the Heritage Community, struggled as a teenager in the public school system. But despite being overwhelmed by a traumatic, education-based phobia, he persevered through high school and conquered his fear of failure. Ultimately, Jerry went on to graduate — with honors — a get a master’s degree in clinical social work.

Because of his experiences, Jerry understands that education is sacred. He is a powerful role model and advocate for teenagers who are struggling with the seemingly overwhelming challenges of life. Driven by his passion, perseverance and his dedication to serve others in their time of need, he created the Heritage Community, an industry-leading treatment center and educational facility for at-risk adolescents.

Since its inception in 1984, Heritage has successfully nurtured thousands of young people, helping them and their families overcome their struggles. Jerry Spanos developed the unique, relationship-based approach that is the hallmark of our therapeutic program, allowing us to effectively work with teens suffering with mental health issues. We specialize in the treatment of mood disorders, trauma, anxiety, attachment and a variety of other challenges typical among adolescents and teenagers. We also maintain a profound therapeutic commitment to students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Our intrinsic core values are family-based. We believe in aligning strong traditions and connecting family, education, health, social and emotional functioning with dynamic relationships and spirituality to build successful life skills.

Our Heritage

Since 1984, the Heritage Community has provided our students and their families with valuable, research-based services and state-of-the-art therapies. Our founder and CEO, Jerry Spanos, pioneered the revolutionary Heritage School Relationship Model for the residential treatment of at-risk youth. The Spanos model is now used in teen and adolescent residential treatment centers across the United States.

Since our inception, Heritage has focused on evolving and discovering innovative ways to serve our students and their families with excellent, compassionate and highly personalized treatment protocols.


As innovative leaders in the youth mental health industry, we choose to be a nonprofit organization, dedicated to our mission and unwavering values.

Heritage is a 501(c)(3), run by a governing board with a focus on not-for-profit treatment. Beyond our programs’ basis of therapy and education, Heritage Community students thrive and benefit from state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge programs. As a true nonprofit, Heritage reinvests all revenue into its programs to help sustain and support our students and their families.

Friends of the Heritage Community, including parents, corporations and community members, see the direct and profound effects that their meaningful donations make in the lives of our students. Heritage carefully controls and monitors these funds to ensure that contributions are used for optimal program enhancement. We expressly prohibit their use for operating expenses.

Heritage has undertaken a remarkable initiative to raise $10 million, which will enable us to construct facilities and develop programs designed to meet the specialized needs of our student populations. These plans include the construction of a new school, two new homes and an administration building where parent training courses will be held.

Your gracious contribution to the Heritage Community’s future will leave a powerful legacy, blessing the lives of grateful families for years to come. Contact our foundation director to learn more.

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