Nonprofit Profile: La Casa de Don Pedro … combining economic empowerment with culture-focused programs

In brief

Location: Newark
Serving: The Greater Newark community, with a primary service area of North Newark and its Lower Broadway neighborhood.
Key members: Board President Arcelio Aponte and Executive Director Raymond Ocasio.


La Casa de Don Pedro, formed in 1972, emerged following a period of social unrest in the late 1960s in Newark. It formed as a community-based, grassroots organization committed to empowering the Puerto Rican and Latino communities. The organization was named in honor of Puerto Rican nationalist Don Pedro Albizu Campos, who advocated the twin virtues of self-sufficiency and empowerment, and was founded by Newarkers of Puerto Rican descent.


La Casa aims to reverse the trajectory of social, cultural, political and economic dislocations and marginalization of children and families.

The organization is aiming to remain nimble and responsive by assessing and addressing the immediate needs of the community, including housing and food insecurity, unemployment, lack of digital resources and mental health initiatives.


La Casa de Don Pedro, which serves upward of 50,000 people per year with its 280 employees, is a social service and community development organization with a mission of fostering self-sufficiency, empowerment and neighborhood revitalization through advocacy, education and support  in a culturally sensitive and caring environment. 


La Casa de Don Pedro transitioned its day care program into an education-based early childhood program in collaboration with Newark Public Schools in the early 2000s. Most recently La Casa grew its early childhood education program — which today educates 598 pre-K children, 144 infants and toddlers, as well as expecting mothers — through a new partnership with Head Start and Early Head Start. 

La Casa has grown its adult education, job training and placement initiatives to prepare low-skilled workers with highly desired skills training programs to ensure their economic vitality.

Together with the Lower Broadway Neighborhood Association, which La Casa helped to form and continues to support, it has organized community events that showcase the neighborhood’s vitality. La Casa has also helped empower residents to become community leaders by connecting them with leadership development training. Finally, La Casa’s own neighborhood revitalization work around affordable homeownership development, creating new homeowners and helping new green community spaces emerge has helped make the neighborhood more attractive and inviting to investors.


La Casa de Don Pedro provides services in the following areas: early childhood development, youth educational, cultural and recreational programs, youth and family counseling, HIV/AIDS prevention and services, workforce development, affordable housing development and counseling, community engagement and development, lead remediation and abatement, home energy conservation improvements and home energy assistance. 

The organization has made a concerted effort to address new (and ongoing) issues that have emerged or worsened in the wake of COVID-19. Recent initiatives include distributing 600 Chromebooks to preschoolers and adult education students in Newark to sustain educational programs virtually, distributing food to hundreds of families, as well as developing a rental relief program for households in danger of eviction.


La Casa de Don Pedro has a significant range of individual and corporate funding, including generous support by the Victoria Foundation, the Prudential Foundation and NeighborWorks America. Along with the banking sector playing a critical role, La Casa remains highly dependent on government resources.


La Casa de Don Pedro raises money to support its programs by acquiring government-funded contracts, foundation and corporate grants, and organizing charitable events and fundraisers.


With more than 45 years of mission-driven and visionary service, La Casa de Don Pedro’s resident-centered agenda empowers people and builds self-sufficiency. Through education, economic development strategies, neighborhood revitalization initiatives and family-stabilizing programs, La Casa works to ensure that Greater Newark’s residents are instrumental to both the city and region’s growth/development.

Conversation Starter

For more information, please contact Carrie Puglisi, director of program & fund development, at: