CASA Pitzer Director Tessa Hicks Peterson (second from left) and students celebrate a successful year of collaborations during a gala event last December.

A Major Milestone

CASA Pitzer celebrates 25 years of community outreach in the Inland Empire

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ritical Action & Social Advocacy (CASA) Pitzer has experienced many transformations during its 25 years of justice-oriented learning. Today, CASA Pitzer resides in Ontario in the Frankish Building—where murals, natural light, diagonal bookshelves, and cozy furniture welcome everyone who comes in. Here, activist research and community building become one.

Originally known as Pitzer in Ontario, CASA Pitzer advances critical analysis and local partnerships around issues in incarceration, immigration, education, labor, art, and more. CASA Pitzer brings residents, activists, artists, and nonprofits together with Pitzer faculty and students to enact change.

The two-course CASA Pitzer academic program facilitates student fellowships and community-based participatory action research with 10 core community partners. CASA Pitzer also offers scholar-in-residence programs to students, faculty, and community members.

Meanwhile, the building in Ontario has become a vibrant community center for Pitzer and local residents to host events and exhibitions.

“There are a few places that have what we have, which is an off-campus community center that involves longitudinal research projects for students to engage deeply and hands on.

–CASA Pitzer Director Tessa Hicks Peterson

CASA Pitzer has the same founders as the Community Engagement Center—former Pitzer professors Lourdes Arguelles and Alan P. Jones. While the CEC supports community engagement at large for the College, CASA Pitzer is a place-based, three-credit program that works with a cohort of students every semester.

Students complete a 125-hour fellowship, which “provides deep cultural immersion in the Inland Empire,” said CASA Pitzer Director Tessa Hicks Peterson.

“There are few places that have what we have, which is an off-campus community center that involves longitudinal research projects for students to engage deeply and hands on.”

Last fall, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians provided a grant for an oral histories project in collaboration with Native and Indigenous communities. This summer, North Atlantic Book Press is publishing CASA Pitzer’s work in restorative and healing justice through the Know Justice, Know Peace initiative.