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Congreso North American Street Campus Expands Educational Opportunities

PHILADELPHIA – With the completion of the third building on its campus, Congreso hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony, Sept. 14, 10 a.m., 2830 N. American Street, in celebration of the official opening of the Trujillo Center. The building is named for Congreso Board Chair, Kenneth I. Trujillo, Esq., a prominent Philadelphia leader and attorney. Completed in July 2012, the new facility houses learning, educational and support programs to over 1,000 K-8 and adult students each year. Event speakers included Cynthia Figueroa, President and CEO, Congreso; Kenneth Trujillo, Board Chair, Congreso; Wanda Novales, Principal and CEO, Pan American Academy Charter School; Jon Jay DeTemple, President, Harcum College, and Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez. The event also featured a performance by Pan American Academy Charter School students.

“We are very excited to introduce this new facility to the Eastern North Philadelphia community,” said Cynthia Figueroa, Congreso President and CEO. “This ribbon cutting marks a significant milestone in Congreso’s growth and an important investment in educational supports for this community. In addition to employment, health and social services, the Congreso Campus now offers high-quality educational facilities for Pan American and Harcum at Congreso students.”

Financed through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), and Chase, the $15.7 million project is an example of how the right partnerships can lead to viable educational solutions for the residents of Eastern North Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation also provided bridge financing for the State grant.

The new site, built by PZS Architects, is located in Eastern North Philadelphia. The facility will is home to Pan American Academy Charter School, a K-8 now serving more than 700 students, which was founded by Congreso in 2008.

“We have outgrown our old space. As we expand to 717 students from 476 students last year, we simply would not have the physical space to educate these students in our old facility,” said Wanda Novales, Principal and CEO of Pan American Academy Charter School. “This beautiful new facility will house our 717 students quite comfortably, and give them the opportunities to benefit from state-of-the-art classroom, playground, cafeteria, and computer lab spaces. We are very excited about all of the educational opportunities that this space has afforded our students. Their faces on the first day of school were priceless.”

The Trujillo Center will also house Congreso Health and Social Support Services, which offers after-school and summer school programming for youth, counseling and case management, and other community services. Harcum College at Congreso, an accredited associate degree program, will also hold evening classes in the new building. Harcum College at Congreso offers degree coursework in Law and Justice, Leadership, Human Services and Early Childhood Education.

“Through Congreso, Harcum has been able to bring its tradition of career-based education to a wider community,” said Harcum President Jon Jay DeTemple. “We are thrilled to offer our programs at the new Trujillo Center and continue to help Congreso transform the lives of Latinos in the area by providing access to affordable, accredited associate degree majors.”

This new facility continues Congreso’s 35 year footprint in Eastern North Philadelphia, serving 14,000 unduplicated individuals a year through more than 50 programs. Its close proximity to the Trujillo Center now ensures that K-8 and adult students facing barriers to a complete education, such as health issues, social services, and/or those in need of family supports have immediate access to Congreso Headquarters, just across the street.

On having a building named after him, Congreso Board Chair Kenneth I. Trujillo shared, “My entire family is deeply touched by this recognition. Congreso is a special organization that improves the lives of many in our community. We are pleased to be a part of that legacy.”