In 1961, Dr. Antonia Pantoja and a group of Puerto Rican educators and professionals created ASPIRA (the Spanish word for "aspire") to address Puerto Rican youth's exceedingly high dropout rate and low educational attainment. They were convinced that the only way to free the Puerto Rican community from poverty and promote its full development was by focusing on the education of young people and developing their leadership potential, self-esteem, and pride in their cultural heritage.
The ASPIRA Association is currently the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to Hispanic education in the United States, with nine (9) national affiliates.
ASPIRA, Inc. of Pennsylvania was formed in 1969 and primarily served the North Philadelphia community, the third-largest Puerto Rican population outside of Puerto Rico. To address the low academic attainment of youth in Philadelphia, ASPIRA began its hallmark Leadership Development program in 1969, which is still active in several schools today.
Fast forward to today, ASPIRA, Inc. of Pennsylvania operates a variety of community programs, after-school programs, summer camps, a childcare program called the ASPIRA Learning Academy Scholars, and an early childhood educational development program called Pequenos Pasos de ASPIRA. The work of ASPIRA schools as a charter management organization began when ASPIRA founded Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School in 1998. ASPIRA has since founded two other schools, Antonia Pantoja Charter School and ASPIRA Bilingual Cyber Charter School, and has been given the privilege of managing two more by the School District of Philadelphia, totaling the operation of five charter schools.
ASPIRA, Inc. of Pennsylvania believes in education through leadership and its fundamental determinant in the mission to inspire growth and improvement in future generations. With the right attitude, knowledge, and resources, every member of each community has the potential to become a leader. As we continue to invest in the education and leadership development of the youth, we are confident these children will have the necessary tools to find more and more opportunities for success.
- Grow and develop our schools and programs and the way they educate and affect people.
- Strengthen nonprofit community engagement for greater reach.
- Deepen the relationships between member organizations to increase knowledge, effectiveness, and capacity for collective action.
- Build bridges between nonprofits and key institutions (business, local government, philanthropy, etc.) to increase partnerships and cooperation.
- Increase opportunities for effective cost-saving programs and services.