About » History & Background

History & Background

Our Story
In 1961, Dr. Antonia Pantoja along with a group of educators and Latino advocates created ASPIRA (named after the Spanish word for “Aspire”). Today, the ASPIRA Association is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to Hispanic education in the nation, with nine affiliate groups between the U.S. and Puerto Rico. ASPIRA, Inc. of Pennsylvania was formed in 1969, bringing the same dedication to education and youth empowerment to an entire new area. What started with our Leadership Development Program soon became a network of groups and community-based initiatives, and eventually the ASPIRA of PA of today which operates a variety of community programs and Pasos Preschool, while ASPIRA Schools (a connected but separately managed organization) operates five charter schools. The work of ASPIRA Schools as a charter management organization began when ASPIRA founded Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School in 1998. We have since founded two other schools and been given the privilege of managing two more by the School District of Philadelphia.
Our Community
ASPIRA of PA operates primarily North Philly communities like Hunting Park, Olney, and Kensington. As some of Philadelphia’s most impoverished areas, each of these neighborhoods faces huge socioeconomic challenges which bring about high levels of crime, poor public health and a range of other issues that burden children and families. We believe that education is the most fundamental determinant in the mission to inspire growth and improvement in future generations. With the right attitude, knowledge and resources, every member of these communities has the potential to become a leader for good. There’s a great deal of unity and support from key stakeholders in these neighborhoods, and it’s that support which has built the ASPIRA of PA of today. As we continue to invest in the education and leadership development of the youth, we are certain these children will find more and more opportunities for success.