For immigrants with no family or contacts, it can be an extremely difficult and emotional time integrating into American society. In many cases, they don't even know how to take the first step toward finding a home, a job, or a community of peers. And with immigrants now accounting for 12% of the United States' population, representing the highest percentage in eight decades, critical services and resources are necessary to aid these individuals and help show them that the American Dream is truly within reach.
CASA de Maryland is a nonprofit in the Washington, DC, area providing services for immigrants, such as workforce development programs, English language and computer classes, and vocational training. CASA is helping immigrant workers transform themselves from day laborers to people who are able to find full-time jobs at competitive rates so they can help support their families and their community.
Despite strong involvement with the immigrant communities in the DC Metro area, CASA had no place it could call home—a place where it could house its organization and programs. When they were looking, they came across a run-down building in Langley Park that could be the perfect location.
"For the last 15 years, this facility was totally abandoned," said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland. "The crime around this neighborhood was really bad. You would never see kids walking around here. We developed a plan to renovate this great facility, but the question was 'where is the money?'"
Bank of America identified $6 million in tax credits and provided a bridge loan for an additional $4.5 million. "It was just unbelievable," remarked Torres. In addition to the funding, the Bank offered financial literacy services for people who receive services from CASA and worked with Torres to put together partnerships to solve the cost of becoming a citizen.
Every year, CASA helps place 18,000 jobs in the DC community. This ultimately helps the community by finding more competitive, better-trained workers for employers. CASA not only helps immigrants get jobs, but also helps them integrate into American society.
Together, Bank of America and CASA are providing opportunities for immigrants to make positive, worthwhile contributions to their communities. In turn, this builds a strong society and a better country.
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