ASPIRA, Inc. de Puerto Rico (ASPIRA) is a 501 c (3) educational, nonprofit, non-governmental organization in Puerto Rico, an entity characterized by its long-standing commitment to the development of leaders within the Puerto Rican community and to learning that promotes the human condition and democratic processes. Our mission statement is to educate for the transformation of Puerto Rico through the holistic development of the person and his/her environment. Since our founding in 1969, ASPIRA has focused on providing low-income youth and adults with opportunities for personal and professional growth, through leadership and personal development services and programs, as well as advocacy eff... read more ASPIRA, Inc. de Puerto Rico (ASPIRA) is a 501 c (3) educational, nonprofit, non-governmental organization in Puerto Rico, an entity characterized by its long-standing commitment to the development of leaders within the Puerto Rican community and to learning that promotes the human condition and democratic processes. Our mission statement is to educate for the transformation of Puerto Rico through the holistic development of the person and his/her environment. Since our founding in 1969, ASPIRA has focused on providing low-income youth and adults with opportunities for personal and professional growth, through leadership and personal development services and programs, as well as advocacy efforts. ASPIRA's efforts over the years have been recognized not only for their success, but also for their creativity, innovation, dynamism and passion. As a result, ASPIRA has been a positive, potent force, contributing to the elimination of social and economic barriers that keep disadvantaged individuals and communities apart from the mainstream of our society. ASPIRA's goals and activities spring from a profound belief that Puerto Ricans have the collective potential to move their communities forward. ASPIRA main office is in the municipality of Carolina, with additional service facilities in the municipalities of Aguada, Cabo Rojo, Mayaguez, Moca and Ponce. ASPIRA has developed a coherent programmatic model that includes the person, the family and the community. Based on this model, we are currently implementing programs in the following areas: alternative education, healthy lifestyles, agriculture education and post-secondary access. Other programmatic lines include promotion of a reading culture, promotion of systemic education change, computer literacy, and parental engagement. Based on these programmatic lines, every year we provide services to over 3,400 youth and adults. Some organizational outcomes to highlight include: 99% of our program participants remain in school (retention), 98% of seniors graduates from high school and 93% of them enrolls in postsecondary education. ASPIRA is proud and satisfied to have assisted approximately 270,000 children, youth, and adults since 1969 in achieving their personal, academic and professional goals. Our served people are underserved populations characterized by high poverty levels, high unemployment, low academic expectations, risky behaviors, high dropout rates, among other risk indicators. The ASPIRA Alternative School are at-risk youths ages 16 through 21 years. Most of them dropped-out of traditional school in ninth grade (47.3%). Most of them come from low-income single-parent families (53.3%) with annual family incomes below $14,999 (80.1%). Participants in our college access programs are students in public, low academic performance schools located in low-income communities. They are in grades 6th to12th in 20 schools and are eligible for the free-lunch services. Academic performances are below 2.50 in a 4-points scale. The Veterans Upward Bound Program participants are low- income veterans with academic levels below college degree. Participants in the HIV/AIDS/STD Education and Prevention Programs are HIV / AIDS / STD at-risk people ages 17 to 44 years old. Our signature programs are the ASPIRA Alternative School (AAS) and the Agri-Educational Project El Pitirre (AEPP). Both initiatives are designed and implemented by ASPIRA to respond to critical community needs. When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, destroyed most of the island's agriculture. Before that, the Island was importing 80% of the products it consumes but after the hurricane suddenly increased to a risky 90%. Based on that situation, ASPIRA decided to contribute to the country's food security by developing the AEPP. AEPP purposes are: To increase the amount of locally grown food and teaching students about the farming industry (growing of plants and animal husbandry). To serve as a mean for ASPIRA financial sustainability in order to keep transforming society through providing high quality holistic education directed to support disadvantaged people in the island. ASPIRA is strengthening the capacity of the agricultural industry and increasing food security by cultivating and harvesting fruits, vegetables, and tubers. In addition, we are providing new hands-on agricultural training opportunities to overcome the constraints that hinder the industry's growth and to foster greater self-sufficiency and resilience that will emphasize both the labor shortages in the industry among younger workers and outdated farming practices. The project is providing hands-on work experiences, training for entrepreneurship development, self-management skills and soft skills to promote Puerto Rico's economic growth and people well-being. Currently, the Mayaguez AAS's students are participating in a taylor-made agriculture elective class. Students completed the semester with approval grade, they evidenced high satisfaction with the 15 sessions of practice that will increase their employability in the agriculture sector. This experience also allowed the students to create awareness of the problem on food security. The ASPIRA Alternative School (AAS) is based on the Resiliency Theory, and the abilities for life proposed by the United Nations Education and Science Organizations (UNESCO) as pillars for the 21st Century education, namely, that the person learns to BE, learns to DO, learns to INTERACT (LIVE TOGETHER), and learns to KNOW. AAS has four centers including Mayaguez, Aguada, Moca and Carolina, and serves 230 students and their families. Our exclusive Curriculum for Life) has seven components: Personal Development Retreat, Academic Courses, Elective Courses (a varied menu from which students choose according to their interests and talents), Mentoring Workshops, Occupational Exploration, Community Projects Experience, and Cultural Experiences. These are competency based, and integrate the Alverno College (Milwaukee, WI) an outcome based assessment approach, in which students take an active metacognitive role, guided by specific indicators and criteria, and the Human Potential Generators (staff members) continuously provide feedback using the same indicators and criteria. AAS has an average retention rate of 94%.
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