Casita Maria, headquartered in the South Bronx, was established in 1934 by Claire and Elizabeth Sullivan as the first charitable organization to serve Hispanics in New York City. Operating from a five-room tenement apartment in East Harlem, the Sullivan sisters, public school teachers who were also relatives of TV personality Ed Sullivan, had a primary mission to offer after school enrichment and recreational activities for the children of newly arrived families from Puerto Rico and other Spanish-speaking countries. Through the years, the need for more diversified programs and services grew as Hispanic families came to New York City in greater numbers. Before long, Casita Maria became a valued resource for these families adapting to life in a new environment.
Today, Casita Maria remains dedicated to its original mission, delivering services to the mostly Hispanic youth, families and seniors of the community it serves. In 2009, Casita Maria inaugurated a state of the art facility encompassing performance spaces, exhibition gallery, dance and music studios, and more on its Simpson Street campus. This 90,000 square foot, six-story educational and cultural facility in collaboration with the Department of Education has enabled Casita Maria to expand its scope and capacities as a beacon of excellence.