The 2017 CASA National Institute Gets Underway in Los Angeles

By Cindy Zavala, Education Programs Associate, UnidosUS

UnidosUS service-learning program—Cultura, Aprendizaje, Servicio, and Acción (CASA)—works to develop culturally aware youth leaders who serve as agents of change to address issues that impact their communities. Through active engagement, students develop complex critical thinking and reflective skills while gaining high levels of academic learning.

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The CASA National Institute took place on September 7 and 8 in Los Angeles with 22 instructors from 10 Affiliates, who will be implementing the CASA program during this school year. CASA will launch across four states (California, Tennessee, Illinois, and Texas) through these 10 Affiliate organizations. All 10 will launch cohorts of a minimum of 30 middle school students and will be implementing the CASA program from fall 2017 through spring 2018.

At the CASA National Institute, each Affiliate received two Samsung Galaxy tablets with the new after-school and in-school curricula as an online file for instructors. Instructors were divided into two tracks, after-school and in-school, where they received more in-depth training for the implementation of CASA at their organization.

The first day of training consisted of a presentation on UnidosUS’ history as an organization, our new youth leadership philosophy, and the CASA program as a career readiness model where students gain soft skills for college. Instructors were divided into two tracks, after-school and in-school, where they received more in-depth training for the implementation of CASA at their organization.

On the second day of training, each instructor practiced delivering a lesson from the CASA curriculum as their colleagues played the role of students. Through their presentation, instructors practiced modifying lessons to meet the needs of their students and created fun hands-on activities.

An online survey was administered at the end of the CASA National Institute to collect data regarding areas of improvements for the professional development of CASA instructors. Throughout the year, Affiliates will stay connected with online webinars and trainings. Affiliates will begin teaching CASA in the next few weeks as students adjust to the new school year.

CASA has served approximately 5,417 middle school students since its inception. Each year the CASA Youth Summit also brings together instructors and students participating in the program to present on their service-learning project. This past year the CASA Youth Summit brought together 46 students and 16 teachers from across seven states to UnidosUS’s headquarters in Washington, DC. For more information, please contact Cindy Zavala, Education Programs Associate, [email protected].

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