Over the last 80 years, we've moved, we've grown, and we've deepened our programs, but at heart we're still the same organization that Claire and Elizabeth Sullivan (sisters of the television pioneer Ed Sullivan) willed into life in 1934. Working from a small East Harlem apartment, Casita Maria's goal back then was to give the children of recently arrived Hispanic families the educational support needed to thrive in their new homeland the young could lead their parents and their community to full participation in the American Dream. Casita Maria moved to the South Bronx from East Harlem in 1961, and like so many of the changes we have made, we moved to better serve our community. At the time of the move we were offering programs similar to those created by our founders, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers gained vital skills and were offered essential services through our work. Even during one of the darkest periods in our community's history, Casita Maria stayed and served. As the Bronx Burned in the 1970s, Casita Maria was an island of safety and a route out of poverty. Throughout these years we expanded our programs to include homeless services, drug rehabilitation, violence prevention, gang intervention, teen pregnancy prevention,and many other services. When people look back to this time, Casita Maria is credited with protecting many thousands of vulnerable children and adults. Today the need for our work remains as acute as it was when we were first formed and, as a result of a remarkable public/private partnership with the New York City Department of Education, in October 2009 we opened a wonderful 90,000 sq. ft. facility, shared with a New York City public 6-12 grade school, to better meet these needs. Our current programs are focused on arts and education, and they include a wide range of in-school and after-school programs, as well as summer camps and internships.
Number of Students Served:
Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education's mission is to empower youth and their families by creating a culture of learning through high quality social, cultural, and educational opportunities. We are one of the few organizations in the South Bronx that welcomes kids at the age of six and stays with them until college while providing family learning through the arts. We are also different in the plurality of ways in which we can attract community members to utilize our services. Our students introduce their parents to our cultural programs, while our public programs guide parents to our wide ranging education programs. Our work pervades the community, and our positive influence pervades the generations.
The young people of the South Bronx are talented, ambitious and smart. They want to get ahead. They want to succeed. They need and deserve a college education. We launched College Bound to help them meet this goal, and it is remarkable to see how students in the program grow and develop. They learn and experience a very great deal; really as a group, they come to know themselves and their ambitions better. They also come to learn what it will take—what they need to do—for them to fulfill their ambitions. Throughout the year our tutors offer group and individual academic support. As they move through the program, the students’ skills and confidence grow considerably; they become a truly focused group. The program includes college visits, mock college interviews, job shadowing, visiting speakers, and working with the students to develop their resumes and college essays. We also devote time to explaining the financial aid programs that are available—cost and fear of the forms being one of the most off-putting factors for the members of our economically disadvantaged community.
SAT prep, college-bound courses
College and Postsecondary Planning:
Middle School (6-8):
High School (9-12):