The First Comunitario PTA
The first Comunitario PTA was begun by a non-proselytizing, faith-based group made up of immigrant women, called ARISE, A Resource in Serving Equity. This organization helps empower community women to take up challenges seen in their highly economically distressed communities. Often in groups of dozens, sometimes hundreds, ARISE marshals resources for voting and information campaigns to raise awareness on infrastructure issues in the area.
One of their main concerns has been education and how students from poor areas are often ignored and looked over as worthy of going to college. Since the organization is not geographically bound, its members are served by many different school districts. Seizing on the opportunity to state their concerns and make their case ARISE’s Comunitario PTA has been forging relationships with school districts in the area.
In 2010, ARISE invited PSJA ISD superintendent, Dr. King, to one of their meetings that are held homes in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. This was a momentous occasion for all participants as it began a series of collaborative efforts that are taking place, such as ESL classes being held at ARISE centers and the formation of more Comunitario PTAs in the school district boundaries.
That first cohort of 35 families report that all of their children, mostly children learning English as a second language, who were in high school and scheduled to complete their studies, graduated and those of college age went on to higher education. There are now well over 100 Comunitario PTA families there working with leaders in one school district to monitor the academic success of their children and other neighborhood children.
Based on this success, in late 2012, IDRA was selected by the U.S. Department of Education to expand development of the Comunitario PTA model in five communities in Central and South Texas, through the i3 Initiative.