If ever there was any question about whether afterschool produces effective role models for youth, Marta Rivera is the answer. Marta has made a monumental impact on the lives of thousands of youth in her impressive 23 years of work at Casita Maria. Her history with the program goes back even further than her career in the afterschool field: Marta and much of her family are “Casita Kids” themselves. It was 23 years ago that Marta recognized the impact that the organization had on her and, leaving a successful career in banking, decided to join the staff of Casita Maria.
In her time at Casita Maria, Marta helped keep youth out of gangs, avoid early pregnancy, and see that drugs got them nowhere. She directed them toward more productive ventures and made sure they dedicated themselves to their studies. She showed them that college was not a dream, but a very real possibility. Because of Marta, young adults that come through her program don’t just seek jobs, they find careers. Through programs that Marta oversees like smART Kids, the Ninth Grade Success Initiative, and the new music program, youth have explored new cultures and are more prepared for the world they face. Even local police officers say that Marta and her work at Casita helped them and their colleagues stay on the straight and narrow when they were young.
Beyond her ongoing work improving the afterschool experience for her youth, Marta’s dedication to Casita Maria and the community it supports is readily apparent the moment she steps out her front door for the short walk to her program. People of all walks of life regularly greet her on the sidewalk, wanting to tell her about the impact she had on them. In addition to her role at Casita Maria, Marta remains active on the Community Board, works with numerous local volunteer organizations, and helps organize many events throughout the year. And despite all of her accolades and achievements, she feels that her close and caring family is her greatest achievement.