ASPIRA, Inc. of New Jersey is a private, nonprofit community-based organization founded in Newark, New Jersey in 1968 by a group of parents and community leaders distressed by the high dropout rates of Hispanic students. Since its inception as a small storefront in Newark, ASPIRA NJ has grown into a statewide organization, now operating in Camden, Pleasantville, Jersey City, Paterson, Vineland, Long Branch, and the City of Newark.
ASPIRA NJ is an Associate of the ASPIRA Association. The ASPIRA Association is the second largest national Hispanic organization in the United States, providing services to over 5,000 communities. Each associate operates a variety of programs that grow out of the specific conditions and needs of their own communities. As an ASPIRA affiliate, we are dedicated to empowering primarily the Hispanic community and other minorities through the development of its youth. Our basic belief is that the path out of poverty must be through education. ASPIRA NJ implements a variety of evidence-based youth development, workforce development and social service programs designed to promote self-sufficiency within the Hispanic community.
ASPIRA NJ's history of excellence has enabled us to maintain strong, multi-generational connections with community residents, parents, educational institutions, and community-based organizations. Annually, we serve over 1,800 youth and families, of which 75% are Hispanic, 20% African American and 5% Other. Within the Hispanic community, ASPIRA has become one of the leading organizations creating quality educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth. ASPIRA specializes in engaging parents and community residents to advocate for the educational advancement of Hispanics, and providing culturally sensitive services to Hispanic and ELL youth.
ASPIRA implements best practices and evidence-based after school programming in sixteen (16) schools in seven (7) communities (Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Long Branch, Pleasantville, Vineland and Camden) across the state. Our largest program is the ASPIRA Youth Development and Dropout Prevention Program serving over 1,000 middle and high school students. ASPIRA has a track record of promoting college access among underrepresented groups. Graduation rates in the high schools served by ASPIRA range from 50-75%. Statewide, 90% of students remain in the program as they persist through their senior year. Of students who persist, 95% graduate from high school and 90% of those enroll in postsecondary education. Program retention is mostly affected by mobility of students both within and outside of the districts. Some students remain engaged by transferring to other ASPIRA schools or by receiving services at our community-based locations in Newark, Passaic, and Vineland.
ASPIRA has also been selected to operate several nationally recognized model programs – Juvenile Delinquency Alternative Initiatives Evening Reporting Center (Essex County), Family Friendly Centers (Jersey City and Pleasantville), Family Success Centers (Newark), Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (Newark), Upward Bound (Camden), and YouthBuild (Vineland).