History

Students in the after school program

There is No Place Like Casita

Over the last 80 years, we’ve moved, grown, and deepened our programs. But at heart we are still the same organization that Claire and Elizabeth Sullivan (cousins of the television pioneer Ed Sullivan) willed into life in 1934. Working from a small East Harlem apartment, Casita Maria’s goal was to give the children of recently arrived Latino families the educational support needed to thrive. The youth could then lead their parents and communities in achieving the American Dream. 

Casita Maria moved to the South Bronx from East Harlem in 1961. During one of the darkest periods in our community’s history, Casita Maria stayed and served.  As the “Bronx Burned” in the 1970’s, Casita Maria expanded programs to include homeless services, drug rehabilitation, violence prevention, gang intervention, teen pregnancy prevention and many other services. Casita Maria protected thousands of vulnerable children and adults.

In October 2009 through a partnership with the New York City Department of Education, we opened a wonderful 90,000 sq. ft. facility shared with a New York City public 6-12 grade school, to better serve the community.  Since moving into the new building we have increased the number of students in our education programs from about 300 to 1,500 and we launched a range of arts, education and public programs. 

We are proud of the organization’s long history of achievement and the positive impact on the lives of thousands of people. We look forward to 80 more years of serving the youth and families of the South Bronx.

2014 Accomplishments

  • 200 additional middle school youth enrolled in Casita's after-school program
  • 100% of students in Casita's after-school program graduated from high school and were accepted into college
  • Launch of the Warriors basketball team
  • Casita Maria Gallery, Main Stage program and Performing Arts Residency program continue to celebrate the vibrant culture of our South Bronx community
  • Launch of Open Stage, a program that brings the arts to public spaces
  • Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra joined Casita Maria for a 3 year residency and for the creation of “Guerrilla Jazz” concerts, a program supported by a $20,000 grant from the Doris Duke Foundation
  • Installation of the Youth and Community Gallery exhibits the artistic works of the community members and students of Casita Maria
  • The South Bronx Culture Trail initiative presented a week-long festival that honored Pioneers of Hip Hop-including Casita Maria Alumni Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Melle Mel and GrandWizzard Theodore
  • A $80,000 grant from the New York Community Trust allowed Casita to create a series of physical markers that identify key locations in the history of the South Bronx, a project featured in the New York Times
  • Additional partnerships include Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and New York Housing Authority (NYCHA), Banana Kelly, The Laundromat Project, Rocking the Boat, The Literacy Project and KidFest CinemaFest
  • Increased support from foundations, including a $90,000 grant from the Pinkerton Foundation to support Casita's education programs and a $450,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to support Casita's arts programs