FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 17, 2016. Philadelphia– In a Philadelphia School Reform Commission public hearing held on Tuesday, February 16, Esperanza, Inc.’s application for a new K-5 charter was approved.
A group of students, parents and educators clad in bright yellow t-shirts bearing the words “Esperanza Pride” attended the hearing in support of the new school. Founder, President and CEO of Esperanza, Reverend Luis Cortés, Jr. spoke as the Applicant Speaker Representative positing, “What Mayor Kenney hopes to create already exists at Esperanza. We are a community school.”
Seven of the 24 Public Comment Speakers signed up to speak on behalf of the proposed Esperanza Elementary Charter including a student, an alumnus, parents, board members, and the CEO of Esperanza Academy, David Rossi. “This community has been underserved for decades,” Rossi said, “and this is the community we intend to serve.”
Esperanza currently operates a middle and high school in the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Hunting Park, located in the poorest congressional district in Pennsylvania. With a student body of about 1400, 100% minority and 92% low-income, Esperanza Academy High School is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report and boasts graduation rates well above both city and state rates.
“It has been a long nine years since we first applied to create schools in a community that desperately needed educational opportunity,” said Rev. Cortes immediately following the hearing, “This is only the beginning of instituting a seamless educational pipeline from Kindergarten to college for children in Hunting Park. Esperanza has worked for three decades to alleviate poverty in North Philadelphia, and a new elementary school is one step closer to establishing a long-term solution to poverty for Latino Philadelphians. When the children of the fastest growing minority in the country receive a quality education, it’s not only a win for Latinos. It’s a win for Philadelphians.”
In addition to a robust application and hearing process, Esperanza solicited support from the community and was met with hundreds pre-registrations and nearly 800 letters of the support from the community, including Philadelphia City Council Members Maria Quiñones-Sanchez, Alan Domb, and David Oh.
Esperanza Elementary is set to open in the fall of 2017.
Esperanza, Inc., is a national community-based organization founded in 1987 by Rev. Luis Cortes & the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity with the biblical mandate to serve and advocate for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) in mind. What began as a local initiative, with programs targeted to address the unmet needs of North Philadelphia’s Hispanic community, Rev. Cortes is now sought by national and international leaders alike on issues of economic and workforce development, housing, immigration, and education. Under his leadership, Esperanza has grown from a small 20 person operation to more than 350 employees and a $35 million organization. For more information, please visit www.esperanza.us.