2015 BU-GATA Organizational and Program Overview
The BG board of directors is comprised entirely of residents who have led our key efforts over the years. In fact, the current Executive Director, Saul Reyes, is a BYB graduate, along with two other BU-GATA staff members, ensuring that tenant voices are represented throughout the organization and its work.
Our overarching philosophy is grounded in advocacy for Arlington immigrant residents, requesting culturally competent access to County services. Because the majority of BU-GATA clients are Spanish speaking, we strive for increased access to Spanish translation or Spanish language materials and services that meet the needs of our population and its changing demographics.
Housing and Outreach Programs:
Housing-related programs: resident education on housing issues and their rights, working to preserve affordable housing in the neighborhoods throughout Arlington.
Promotoras: BU-GATA is implementing a County-wide program using a peer-to-peer network of neighborhood connectors or liaisons to help immigrants and others with language difficulties gain access to County services.
BU-GATA works year-round with young people in the communities we serve to emphasize the importance of education and civic participation, with the focus on high school graduation, college attainment, community identity and leadership skills.
Buckingham Youth Brigade, an award-winning after-school program for teens, ages 14-18; and
Jr. BYB for middle school children, ages 10-13.
Community events: Sponsor and organizer of two annual events: the Holiday party and the Buckingham Community Festival.
- Since its founding, the Buckingham neighborhood has maintained a high level of socioeconomic diversity and has preserved 1,217 affordable and workforce housing units due to BU-GATA’s and its residents’ advocacy efforts.
- In 2015, Arlington approved the establishment of a County fund that covers relocation expenses for low-income and working residents to ensure that they can return to live in renovated units after a developer decides to renovate and/or demolish multi-family rental units. BU-GATA and its residents were essential in helping negotiate the terms of this important Fund.
- In 2014, BU-GATA hired its first, full-time paid Executive Director, Saul Reyes. Saul, a BU-GATA program alumnus, has been a key member and contributor to the Affordable Housing Study and was appointed by the County Board and County Manager to the Affordable Housing Study Working Group.
- In 2013, BU-GATA and Arlington County co-led the coordination of a countywide Community Forum to help residents engage in meaningful conversations with county representatives about issues of great concern.
- In 2012, BU-GATA opened an office at Buckingham Gardens’ Cesar Chavez Community Center, providing resource and referral services to interested community members and also a place for youth to attend after school, winter, spring and summer break programming, helping to increase educational attainment and employment levels and of course providing a safe space for youth.
- In 2011, BU-GATA received the James B. Hunter Award from Arlington County, a prestigious Human Rights Award. This distinguished Award was also bestowed upon longtime BU-GATA board member, Willians Silva in 2003.
- For several years, BU-GATA worked on language access advocacy leading in 2003 to the provision of County services in a person’s home language and premium pay advocacy for County staff who are certified as a Spanish language speaker.
- The Buckingham Youth Brigade worked with Arlington County to preserve Lubber Run Community Center, the closest center and green space to Buckingham Village. This park and community center is very popular with youth in the community for volleyball and basketball, and in addition, the center now provides Wi-Fi. The retention of this community center has been key to keeping the neighborhood from being a play and exercise desert.