One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: ASPIRA
Contact(s): Ronald Blackburn Moreno, President: (202) 835-3600
Purpose: To promote the development of the Puerto Rican and Latino community through education and leadership development of its youth

ASPIRA began as a project of the Puerto Rican-Hispanic Leadership Forum in 1961, with the goals of motivating Puerto Rican youth to stay in school and aspiring them to pursue higher educational opportunities. ASPIRA was also established as a bilingual counseling agency to assist Puerto Rican youth through career guidance. The ASPIRA process of leadership development is described by three words: awareness, analysis and action. The program is comprised of associate offices, school-based clubs, and numerous programs. A national network of school clubs that help students develop leadership skills, the federation of ASPIRA clubs also helps students learn to work together, improve self-esteem and gain a better understanding of their community. The ASPIRA Parents for Education Excellence Program (APEX) reaches out to Latino parents who want to become involved and informed advocates in their children's education. The Teachers, Organizations, and Parents for Students Program (TOPS) brings together teachers, corporate volunteers and parents to promote academic achievement in Latino youth. For 25 years, ASPIRA's National Health Careers Program has worked to fulfill several objectives, including: recruitment of high school and college students; entry of those students into allied health programs and professional schools; and dissemination of financial aid information to the students. Providing 90 high school students with the opportunity to study public policy and work with local leaders in community service internships, the ASPIRA Public Policy Leadership Program gives selected students a hands-on introduction to policy making and government action. Of ASPIRA's over 250,000 alumni, more than 98% remain in school, while approximately 90% go on to college. ASPIRA has grown from a staff of only seven who worked out of a small office in New York City to a national organization composed of seven associate sites that provides services to more than 25,000 young people a year. ASPIRA maintains associate offices in Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico to implement the youth leadership development program. The ASPIRA Association, Inc. continues to advance its mission through research and advocacy activities at the national level. The ASPIRA Institute for Policy Research was founded in 1985 to carry out this goal and continues to address Hispanic needs. The American Institute of Philanthropy gave ASPIRA an A rating in its annual Charity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report, making it one of the top 10 charities in the country.

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