About

Casita Maria, headquartered in the South Bronx, was established in 1934 by Claire and Elizabeth Sullivan as the first charitable organization to serve Latinos 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. 
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Today, Casita Maria remains dedicated to its original mission, delivering services to the mostly Latino youth, and families of the Hunts Point community it serves in the Bronx. 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.

Mission

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 education opportunities.

Vision

We envision being a vital contributor to the South Bronx renaissance, fostering culturally and artistically vibrant neighborhoods which effectively prepare the next generation for success.

Core Beliefs

To address poverty and ensure systemic, durable change in disadvantaged neighborhoods by:
  • Building community
  • Investing in youth
To provide high quality arts and culture programming by:
  • Catalyzing a sense of place and purpose for youth and the broader community
  • Making learning interesting and meaningful
  • Helping the community express its aspirations and coalesce a compelling vision for its future

History

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.
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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.
Photo credits: Argenis Apolinario, Luis A. Pagan, Sirley Lopez
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