Círculo de la Hispanidad, Inc. History
Círculo de la Hispanidad held a historic celebration on October 24, 2015, celebrating the completion of construction on its Green-Gold Center in Hempstead, NY. For this celebration, Circulo created a book reflecting on moments of its history. Click here to see the book.
Círculo de la Hispanidad was founded in Long Beach, New York in 1980 by Gil Bernardino, as a grassroots organization, to serve the needs of Hispanic immigrants.
Growing from one program, the organization now offers over twenty programs and allied activities in the areas of Education & Career Services, Health, Housing, Crisis Intervention, Violence Prevention, and Youth Development programming to the Hispanic and non-Hispanic community.
Círculo opened its Hempstead office shortly after opening its Long Beach office in 1980.
In 1980 the idea of Círculo de la Hispanidad was just a dream. Círculo’s story of the present and growing success is rooted in the experience of our founder and Executive Director, Gil Bernardino. When Gil, a teacher from Spain, first arrived as an immigrant in 1974, he began working at the Long Beach Youth Board, serving as an active member of the Long Beach Spanish Brotherhood, and teaching in the Long Beach Adult Education Program. It was there that he first recognized the many diverse needs of his Hispanic community.
To give form to the Círculo of his imagination, Mr. Bernardino joined together in the late 1970s with two dedicated and talented allies: Barbara Dubow, a bilingual adult education counselor and teacher and Pat McCormack, Director of Long Beach Youth Services, who generously offered crucial advice and direction. Both helped transform Círculo “the Idea” into Círculo, the viable, enduring organization it is today.
Círculo was awarded its very first grant in 1980 by the Nassau County Youth Board after receiving its nonprofit registration from New York State. After that, Círculo got awarded its first New York State grant of $25,000. Círculo has been able to competently serve the community while growing and developing itself, thanks to their commitment and personal sacrifices.
The organization has continued to grow and change in response to community needs. Recognizing that its purpose is to help individuals and families improve their lives, through a continuum of services and educational enrichment activities, Círculo has developed programs in response to needs, and continues to advocate on behalf of underserved individuals helping them improve their lives.
In 2009, Mr. Bernardino, together with Dr. Sarah Brewster, founded Evergreen Charter School, with support from Círculo de la Hispanidad and community professionals. The creation of this elementary charter school, serving 300 children from kindergarten to fifth grade, emerged in response to educational challenges many families in the Hempstead community faced.
On August 7th, 2010, Círculo achieved another milestone when it celebrated the inauguration of the “Green Center”, a 35,000 square foot LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) facility that features classrooms, a large multipurpose room and a commercial kitchen among other space. Círculo de la Hispanidad is the first nonprofit organization in New York State to have achieved gold certification for its green facility from the US Green Building Council.
Since 2010, the agency has continued to build out features of the facility, including its lower level and second floor. The completion of the final phase of construction is scheduled for the summer of 2015.