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Media Kit


About Us

East Coast Migrant Head Start Project was established in 1974, through a grant to the Leadership of Christian Women, to provide services to migrant farmworkers and their children. Under the leadership of Sister Geraldine O’Brien, Head Start centers were opened along the east coast and mid-west of the United States to ensure continuity of services as families migrated to work in agriculture. Today, ECMHSP operates at 48 educational campuses and serves approximately 3,000 children annually.


Maria C. Garza is the Chief Executive Officer at East Coast Migrant Head Start Project (ECMHSP).  ECMHSP is a non-profit organization that provides high-quality comprehensive Head Start services to farm-worker families in 49 educational campuses located in 10 different states.


A former migrant farm-worker and a high school dropout, Maria is a strong human rights advocate and a national expert on farm-worker issues.  She is a fully bilingual motivational speaker. Recently Maria spoke to the Global MBA Program from Spain’s Salamanca University. She hosted a group of leaders from North Africa and the Middle East in conjunction with the Council for International Visitors addressing mutual issues impacting migrant workers. She also visited Israel and met with Palestinian leaders to learn more about peace and collaboration efforts in the region and the world. Last month, she


established the Women in Power Alliance with more than 30 female CEO’s of the most important nonprofits serving Latinos in the U.S. to promote COVID-19 vaccination efforts. In addition, to kick-start this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, she launched “Cultivating Minds” a podcast inspired by children, where adults learn from them and from experts about education, psychology, medicine, science, art and more.

Maria graduated from Florida International University with a master’s degree in marketing and social media. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Barry University and an associated degree from Miami Dade College. Maria has a rich and extensive professional career that includes; Hispanic Community Liaison for The White House Office of Public Liaison under the Clinton Administration; AmeriCorps Director at UNIDOS-US, (NCLR); President and Founder of the Mexican American Council, (MAC); CEO for Democracy for the Americas with Zambrano Foundation, Director at Miami-Dade County, and a migrant farm-worker.  

Maria has been highlighted in many books, received numerous prestigious awards and recognition's.   But most important to her is, being a woman of faith, married to Cip for 40 years, mother of three sons, and grandmother to five-month-old Leonardo.


Our Services

We serve farmworker families in educational campuses around North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Virginia. In areas where ECMHSP lacks a local presence, we partner with delegate agencies, that are other non-profit organizations, which deliver services to the same high standards as we do. We also have a corporate office in North Carolina and an administrative office in Washington D.C.

Our Mission

East Coast Migrant Head Start Project is committed to preparing the children of migrant and seasonal farm-workers for success.  We do this by providing holistic, high quality early childhood education services for children and families in a nurturing, culturally sensitive environment and by providing services and advocating for children and families in their other areas of need, something they could not get anywhere else.


East Coast Migrant Head Start Project Families; A Snapshot

  • 79% of families are below the federal poverty index guidelines.

  • 72% of children are seasonal, and 28% of children are migrants.

  • 93% of families identify as Hispanic/Latino.

  • 80% of families speak Spanish as their primary language.

  • 12% of families speak English as their primary language.

  • 7% of families speak Indigenous or Haitian Creole as their language.

  • Enrollment of Haitian Creole families is increasing; there are also more mixed-race families, Indigenous families, and African families.

  • 55% of families are two-parent families, and 425 are single parents.

  • 72% of heads of households have less than a high-school diploma.

  • 45% of families are enrolled in the SNAP program

  • 24% of staff are former Head Start parents.

  • 95% of children are up to date on immunizations, or 77% are up to date on the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) recommended for their age.

  • 51% of children aged 0-3

  • 49% of children aged 3-5


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Contact Information

2301 Sugar Bush Road, Suite 400, Raleigh, North Carolina  27612

Telephone: 919-270-9195   Email:

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