Press Release: CASA Breaks Ground on New Regional Education and Employment Center

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 11, 2018

PRESS CONTACTS:
Susana Flores (915) 525 2434, susana@communicationsshop.us
Lizette Olmos (240) 706 2624, lolmos@wearecasa.org

CASA Breaks Ground on New Regional Education and Employment Center


WHAT: Groundbreaking of future CASA Baltimore Regional Education & Employment Center at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

WHERE: Location of future center – 2706 Pulaski Highway, Baltimore, MD 21224

WHO: CASA, Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh, state and local elected officials, funders, partners, and community members

BALTIMORE, MD — On October 16th CASA, the region’s largest Latino and immigrant organization with nearly 100,000 members, will break ground on a future regional education & employment center in southeast Baltimore that will significantly expand CASA’s capacity to connect employers with area residents, serve as a hub for multiracial youth education and leadership development programs, and support the city’s immigrant and minority residents through services and programming.

“When the city invests in our immigrant residents, everyone wins.  Both our economy and community are stronger when everyone is included. This project is going to help make Baltimore a welcoming place where all families have a chance to thrive. We are honored to support it and be a partner,” said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh.

CASA purchased the building, which housed the former Belnord Theater,  in November 2015, with the vision of seeing Baltimore as a city with an inclusive economy, vibrant youth leadership, and institutions that promote racial justice.

Once one of the few movie theaters in Baltimore that was never segregated, the theatre embodies CASA’s mission of lifting up communities of color through training and opportunities.

“As a community organization, we know these types of centers work to bring the community together and present opportunities to those that need them the most. We are proud to be a part of this beautiful, multicultural, and thriving community, and we are here to stay,” said Gustavo Torres, CASA Executive Director.

The 16,000 square-foot space will be renovated at a cost of just under $14 million. It has attracted the support of major private funders, the city of Baltimore, and the state of Maryland.

The City of Baltimore is investing $1.25 million, the state of Maryland has committed $1.2 million in grant funding, and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is the largest private funder of the project at $2.3 million. The project is also receiving New Market Tax Credits, federal historic tax credits, and state historic tax credits.

“The Weinberg Foundation is proud to support this project, which we know will make a measurable and significant impact in the lives of many underserved families in the region,” said Marci Hunn, Program Director, Workforce Development.

Tax credit financing partners include PNC Bank, Raza Development Fund, The Reinvestment Fund, and Twain Financial Partners. The building will be both a historic and green building and is anticipated to receive U.S.G.B.C. LEED “Gold” Certification. CASA is also launching a grassroots and public fundraising campaign for the final $1 million needed for the project.

CASA long outgrew its current space on E. Fayette Street with community members expressing the need for on-site vocational training programs, expanded services, and youth programs. Through its new regional center, services will be significantly expanded, allowing CASA to serve an additional 7,000 low-income residents annually – for a total of 11,000 annually.  Programs will include:

  • An on-site vocational training lab with a focus on the healthcare, construction, and IT fields;
  • Expansion of employment placement and workforce development programs;
  • Expansion of afterschool and youth leadership development programs;
  • Expansion of ESOL programming to include intermediate and advanced levels;
  • Increased capacity for tax preparation, financial literacy, citizenship classes, and legal services.

“I grew up with CASA in Baltimore.  From the days when my dad first found help at CASA as a day laborer to our victories for immigrant youth, CASA has been a huge part of my life and growth as a leader in Baltimore,” said Jesus Perez, CASA Board member, and DREAMer.

CASA’s mission is to create a more just society by building power and improving the quality of life in working class and immigrant communities. CASA has been providing legal and organizing programs in Baltimore City since 2002, and in 2007 moved into its current space.  CASA currently serves approximately 4,000 people annually in the Baltimore region through programs including job placement, legal, citizenship, and financial literacy services, ESOL classes, youth afterschool and leadership development programming, and multi-racial organizing.

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