CASA of Maryland was founded in 1985 by representatives of various congregations, both Central Americans and native-born U.S. citizens. CASA was created in response to the human needs of the thousands of Central Americans arriving to the D.C. area after fleeing wars and civil strife in their countries of origin. In the basement of the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church , CASA provided emergency clothing, food, immigration assistance, and English instruction to new immigrant arrivals from Central America. CASA started with a staff of 2, a handful of volunteer teachers, and funds from various congregations.
As the community grew in numbers and its needs grew in complexity, CASA so expanded its programs. In 1991, in response to growing numbers of day laborers congregating on street corners looking for work in the Long Branch neighborhood of Silver Spring, with the support of Montgomery College and private foundations, CASA set up a temporary trailer to provide legal and employment assistance to the workers. In 1993, Montgomery County granted CASA space and funding to operate a formal Center for Employment and Training at 734 University Blvd. East, in Silver Spring. This was CASA's first welcome center, which has served as a model for the creation of numerous other centers in Maryland and across the country.
Today, CASA organizes and advocates with its thousands of individual members and provides direct services in the areas of employment placement, workforce development and training, financial literacy, adult ESOL and Spanish literacy instruction, citizenship and legal services, health education, and human services navigation at its 5 welcome centers, three training centers (including a rented high school where we provide adult ESOL training to hundreds of students each evening), Our offices are located throughout the state of Maryland , specifically focusing on our community in Baltimore City, and Prince George's and Montgomery Counties. CASA caters its programs to three main constituencies: low-income women, workers, and tenants.
CASA is currently recognized as the largest Latino and immigrant organization in the state of Maryland, and is the recipient of national and international recognition for its work, including awards such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation's "Families Count!" Award (2005), the National Council of La Raza's "Affiliate of the Year" Award (2004), the Institute for Policy Studies' Letelier-Moffit Domestic Human Rights Award (2003), and the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund's Community Service Award (2006). Thanks to partnerships with local governments, private foundations, individuals, congregations, civic associations, and other organizations supporting CASA's work, over 20,000 low-income Latinos and immigrants directly benefit from CASA's programs and services every year.