Education is key to unlocking success for a new generation, but the barriers both students and parents face can make it difficult for Latino, immigrant, and working class children to get their fair share out of the education system that is supposed to serve them. CASA’s education department works with students and parents alike to give kids the best chance to succeed in school. This means helping newly arrived families enroll their children into school, teaching parents the ins and outs of the American school system, helping to improve parent-teacher communication, and giving parents the tools and knowledge to actively assist their kids’ academic success, all so parents can take an active role in their kids’ education.
2019 ANNUAL REPORT
— Fredrick Douglass
CASA is tremendously proud of the services it offers and the many victories achieved alongside its members, but the legacy of CASA’s work is not in the number of members, or hours of service delivered, nor individual political battles won. Our legacy is each new generation of leaders, growing up in a community that is stronger, more diverse, and, above all, more JUST. Our legacy is fighting for the power to stand, so that our children can march forward. And march they have…
Youth Leading the Way
2019 was a noteworthy year in CASA’s history for youth programs and youth organizing. Most notably, 2019 saw CASA establish our Youth Leadership Council, which mirrors our existing member Leadership Council and elevates the incredible youth organizing work CASA has been engaged in across our footprint. In particular, the Youth Committees in Baltimore and in York, PA have been shining examples of what is possible when you give youth the tools, knowledge, and confidence to lead and seize their own power.
In May 2019, the York, Pennsylvania Youth Committee was established – a first of its kind in the community, and within a very short time, there were already over a dozen youth activists coming to every meeting to campaign for issues they care about. How did this amazing group get started? It was actually at the suggestion of one of our amazing young members (and now a member of CASA’s Board of Directors), local York student, Arlette Morales!
Arlette from Puebla, Mexico
But Artlette isn’t the only Pennsylvania youth activist making a big difference in her community.
Yatciri Cruz Pizano is responsible for helping to develop the emerging Youth Comite in Chester County, PA.
And Mitzi Colin, a DACA recipient from Chester County, has taken it upon herself to start a new Youth Comite with her fellow students at West Chester University.
Yatciri Cruz Pizano from PA
Mitzi Colin from PA
Education Success in School and Beyond
EDUCATION PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
10,700 enrolled in an educational
workshop or course of some kind (including citizenship workshops, KYR sessions, health workshops)
1,587 enrolled in comprehensive vocational training courses
Over 3,250 members received basic financial education and counseling
1,205 members made positive changes to their financial well being
1,850 members built financials assets through establishing a new bank account, receiving a tax refund or obtaining citizenship
Over 300 community members participated in health insurance literacy workshops that included how to navigate the system
2019 was a banner year for CASA’s signature after school program, Mi Espacio. Focused on building academic engagement, helping students to take control of their future planning whether that be academic or vocational, and giving students the tools to be leaders in their communities, Mi Espacio has been a pathway to growth for so many Latino and immigrant youth in CASA communities:
Ander from Guatemala
Climate Justice is Social Justice
Our youth leadership is keenly aware of the existential threat of climate change on our communities and on our planet. Like our membership, especially those recently displaced by extreme weather events like Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, our youth leaders know climate change is not some obscure concept but the very immediate reality of their lives. We say climate justice, because though climate change affects and threatens us all, it is the marginalized and poor of every country that are facing the worst effects and getting the least help. CASA is committed to not only fighting climate change to save our planet for future generations, but to ensure that the cost of the shift to a green economy doesn’t fall on CASA communities and other working class people, but instead is channeled through investment that makes us more equal rather than less.
In 2019, our York, Pennsylvania Youth Committee put climate action on the agenda in a major way, pushing for and winning a BIG commitment from the York City Council. Only 4 months after the creation of the York Youth Committee, the group brought their resolution “Supporting the Development and Implementation of a Plan to Transition to 100% Clean and Sustainable Energy” to the York City Council. The plan, committing the City of York to support a transition to 100% clean and renewable energy, passed the council unanimously, giving the newly formed Committee, the City of York, and the planet a much needed victory!
In addition, CASA organizers and canvassers took to the streets, knocking on doors to unite, inspire, and empower people to take action on climate change.
The heart of this work is very much with the large Puerto Rican community we serve in South Central Pennsylvania, but that isn’t the only place where climate justice is front of mind for our members. We were so pleased in 2019 to be able to canvass in the coastal community of Hampton Roads, Virginia, a new expansion territory for CASA, to help organize people from Newport News, Virginia Beach, and the surrounding areas to fight for climate justice. Our dedicated issue canvass reached voters throughout the area, spreading information about climate change and encouraging people to join CASA and get involved in the fight.