As it turns out, the third time is the charm. After applying in 2010, 2011, and again in 2012 for the highly competitive Promise Neighborhood planning grant, CASA de Maryland (CASA) finally received a $500,000 U.S. Department of Education award. The grant will help CASA design a system of family, school, and community supports to support children’s education from cradle to career in Langley Park, Maryland.
Langley Park, a 0.8 square-mile census-designated place just inside the Capital Beltway in Prince George’s County, is home to more than 18,000 largely immigrant residents, among them 4,100 children. Seventy-seven percent of residents are of Latin American heritage and nearly three of every four people speak a language other than English at home, as opposed to only one of six Maryland residents and one of five in the United States as a whole. Langley Park families also struggle to stay afloat in this economy. About 18 percent of households live in poverty in the neighborhood, 3 times the rate in Maryland and nearly twice that of the US.
Despite these challenges, many families in Langley Park are either un- or under- served by traditional federal safety-net programs because of their immigrant status. Consequently, families often rely heavily on institutions like schools and nonprofits like CASA to meet their needs. Aligning these resources through the Langley Park Promise Neighborhood represents a tremendous opportunity to build an innovative system that comprehensively supports immigrant families and children and helps build a pathway to economic mobility and social integration.
In order to build this system, CASA will convene many partners, including Prince George’s County and Prince George’s County Schools, as well as community residents throughout the planning year and engage them in a community needs assessment, scan of available resources, and decision-making about the solutions that will work best for Langley Park’s families. Lessons learned from this process could inform approaches to serving first and second generation Americans in many communities across the country. The Urban Institute will be there to support this effort.