St. Anthony Mary Claret Parish in Fresno, California, was founded by the Claretians in 1951 and has been serving the area ever since. Members of the community face a number of challenges, and the parish is working hard to meet their needs.
The median annual household income in the parish community is only $35,635, barely more than half of the statewide median income in California. Unfortunately this means that 38% of the community population lives in poverty, with the childhood poverty rate rising to a staggering 46%. Poverty in Fresno corresponds with the high unemployment rate—nearly 18% in the parish area. Unsurprisingly, 28% of area families have had to rely on supplemental nutrition benefits to keep food on the table.
One major concern for the community is providing for its youth. The median age in the area is only 27, and almost a quarter of the population is under the age of 18. Fifteen percent of area households are single-parent families, compared with only 9.6% statewide and nationally.
Local schools struggle to provide for the community’s needs. Standardized test scores are lower than the state average, with only around 10% of high school students meeting expectations in math. Only 56.5% of area residents have completed high school, with just half of graduates completing all the needed classes for college admission. A mere 7% of residents have at least a bachelor’s degree. Fresno youth need strong role models to keep them in school and increase their chances for academic success.
Lack of English language skills is also an issue. The population is 67.5% Hispanic, and 63% speak a language other than English at home. Of those, around half don’t speak English very well. Insufficient English can lead to communities feeling isolated and unable to access services.
Claretians in Fresno are working hard to create positive change, but there is still a lot of work to do. Consider making a donation to the Claretian Initiative to help St. Anthony Mary Claret Parish expand its program offerings and help this community meet its needs.