Our History

The Spanish American Committee for a Better Community (SAC) opened its doors in 1966, at the time when there were no Hispanic organizations for the Hispanic community. At this time, poverty was at an all-time high and many needed assistance in the areas of workforce, basic needs, social services, housing, childcare and other needed services. SAC opened the first Bilingual Childcare Center in 1971 and have continued still today to teach many of our young Hispanic children, as well as non-Hispanic children, showcasing the diversity and level of trust that the overall community has placed within the Committee to educate and take care of their children.

The founding members of SAC had a vision to establish and create the most robust Hispanic social service agency to ensure the community would have a place to come and aid them in their journey to success and opportunity, as they arrived in Cleveland experiencing the same struggles of those they now serve. SAC became a place in which many viewed as a safe place and like home, very much so attributed to the Spanish-language assistance offered to each and every client seeking assistance.

Local government organization had very little or no Hispanics working in the early 1960’s, to which SAC became an advocacy organization for the community pushing for the local government within the city to place Hispanics in the different areas of government offices, so that when a non-English speaking person would go to their offices with issues, someone was there to help them. Many issues have arose since the inception of SAC, as well as many years of continued struggles with the Hispanic community at large, such as: discrimination with housing, lack of equitable resources in schools, and even in the political arena. 

Throughout the years, SAC has been referred to as ‘The City Hall of the Hispanic Community’ due to the wrap-around services provided while also being the center of all Hispanic needs. Furthermore, many leading Hispanics who today are leading in top positions from the public and private sectors started their journey at SAC. SAC was very helpful in the creation of the Office of Bilingual Services for the Board of Education to help the many children that were not fully bilingual, as well as aiding in City Hall hiring the first Hispanic Liaison to deal with Hispanic issues within the city of Cleveland.  

SAC has helped many people that have been devastated with disasters, as far back as when Fidel Castro released many prisoners in the early 80's, who ended up arriving to Cleveland and at the SAC’s doorsteps for basic needs, housing, and employment assistance. Throughout the years and recently, SAC has stepped up to be the leader aiding Hispanics in Cleveland after natural disasters, such as the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico in the early 90’s, and as recently as helping over 2,500 families that were affected by Hurricane Maria. Recently, the devastating earthquakes in December 2019 that continued into 2020, we aided 400 families that came to Cleveland after fleeing Puerto Rico.

The population of the Hispanic community was about 14,000 in 1969. Today, we have seen the growth of the Latino/Hispanic community grow over 60,000 and still counting. We serve a diverse group of clients from Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, and many others.

SAC is the oldest non-profit in the state of Ohio serving the Hispanic/Latino communities. SAC has over five decades serving our Latino/Hispanic community. Recently, there has been a growth of non-profits also offering services to the Hispanic/Latino communities, in many instances focusing on specific populations. Nonetheless, the history of the SAC provides it with a unique and respected presence in the community.