Making a Difference. One Square Mile at a Time.
In 2001, former HUD Secretary and former Mayor of San Antonio Henry G. Cisneros and his wife, the Honorable Mary Alice Cisneros, formerly a member of the San Antonio City Council, established American Sunrise, a non-profit community builder organization. The mission of American Sunrise is to create communities where working families find housing, economic, and educational opportunities in the neighborhoods where they reside in order to achieve an adequate and equitable standard of living.
American Sunrise chose to model itself after a successful program in New York City known as the Children’s Harlem Zone. The idea is to take a one square mile and infuse all our energy, programs, and funds into that targeted area in order to make measurable and visibly significant differences improvements. The one square mile area includes some of the poorest census tracts in the Westside of San Antonio. This neighborhood/area known as Prospect Hill has always been home for Henry and Mary Alice. They were born, raised, educated, married, are proud residents of Prospect Hill and still members of their childhood parish, Sacred Heart Church. This unique model affords residents the on-going opportunity to interact with the founders of the organization and discuss basic needs for themselves and their children. This hands-on model radiates a hope that emanates from the success of its founders and breeds life into their dream that all things are possible.
Our goal is to build the educational capacity of children through our Learning Center and the Prospect Hill 100 Scholarship Fund. The American Sunrise Learning Center (ASLC) provides free after-school tutoring, and educational programs serving K-12 high risk students identified by Margil Elementary School and KIPP Academy. We partnered with Texas A&M University San Antonio to provide an intensive reading and math program to enhance our programs. American Sunrise tracks students from elementary school to high school graduation, providing assistance and scholarships for all of our students to attend college.
We believe in investing in the parents of our students and adults in our neighborhood. We work to build the educational capacity of adults through English literacy classes, technology training and financial literacy classes. We believe these key educational elements enhance the employability of the children’s.
The dream of homeownership is becoming a reality for many of our parents who are primarily first time homebuyers. Our housing program buys older, dilapidated houses, and turns them into beautifully rehabilitated. We provide affordable, safe houses for families in need. In addition most of the businesses our one square mile is located in two major thoroughfares, our goal is to revitalize those economic corridors into thriving economic generators. Our goal is to help them improve or expand their businesses and attract new businesses into the Westside of San Antonio.
The American Sunrise Learning Center serves students and parents in the San Antonio ISD. These students and parents, and specifically those parents in the Census Tract in which the Learning Center is located come from economically distressed families. According to the US Census Bureau, in the targeted geographic area served, 41% of adults 25 years or older did not graduate from high school, and 27% of residents live below the poverty line. Ninety-two percent (92%) of students are economically disadvantaged and 70% are academically at risk. The Median Household Income for the census tract in which the learning center is situated ($26,675) is significantly less than the Bexar County’s Median Household Income ($45,688).