Our History

Like many communities of color, FACGC understood the challenges faced by its people, the struggle to find a sense of belonging, and the need for a safe space that could nurture their cultural heritage. With unwavering determination, FACGC embarked on a transformative journey, tirelessly working towards creating a sanctuary that would serve as a hub for empowerment and social change. In 1974, that vision became a reality when it purchased a facility from the Swedish-American Orphei Singing group. This facility owned by the nonprofit corporation FACGC, now called Rizal Center, is a physical embodiment of its commitment to the community. Rizal Center quickly became a cornerstone of the Filipino American community—a place where connections were forged, stories were shared, and dreams were nurtured. It became a hub, bustling with activities that celebrated its culture and promoted unity. From social services that catered to the needs of its community members to transformative arts and cultural programs that ignited the spirit of creativity, FACGC tirelessly strived to make a positive impact on the lives of Filipino Americans and the broader citizens of Chicago.

Much has changed from when early Filipino community leadership first founded the FNCC in 1953, in order to give the growing Filipino American community a “Filipino clubhouse”, as they put it. The organization is one of the oldest Filipino American nonprofit organizations owning a community center. FNCC was incorporated in 1953. It was a time when the Filipino American community sought a united voice, a beacon of hope, and a sanctuary of support. It was named initially as Filipino National Council of Chicago (FNCC); amended in 1965 as Filipino American Council of Chicago (FACC); and amended last in 1997 as Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago (FACGC). The organization got its 501(c)(3) tax status as public charity in 1998.

Key federal and state legislations were passed that helped Filipinos and other minorities alike into mainstream American society, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Illinois Human Rights Act in 1979.

The FACGC has preserved the founders’ hopes “to inculcate the finest traditions and the rich cultures of this country and of that land of our birth; to instill among our members the prerogatives of better American citizenship; and to promote the mutual welfare of our peoples and contribute to the continued harmonious relations between America and the Philippines.”

The Rizal Center (“Jose P. Rizal Center”) continues to play a significant role in the community. Operating under the aegis of the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago and its name has also evolved to reflect the changing constituency and converging American, Filipino, and Filipino American cultures. Originally known as the Jose P. Rizal Memorial Center, it was renamed the Jose P. Rizal Heritage Center around 2006. In 2017, the building was renamed the Rizal Community Center, or just Rizal Center to foster community and to make it an inviting and welcoming place for all who support the organization’s mission. A new, hand-painted sign was installed to convey the organization’s revitalization.

Nevertheless, FACGC also experienced organizational disruptions throughout its seven decades of rich history; the last being the five-year (2017 to 2022) litigation caused by a hostile takeover of the Board. On August 19, 2022, the Circuit Court of Cook County, Hon. Clare Quish, ruled in favor of the Plaintiff, chairman of the board of directors, Jerry Clarito, restoring his board as the true and legitimate Board and ordering the defendants (FACGC, by its chairman of the board of directors, Alexander Gonzales (Gonzales Faction), and Elaine Lehman), to surrender the keys to Rizal Center on September 12, 2022. A copy of Judge Quish’s ruling may be accessed at this link: Memorandum Order and Opinion

Located in the Graceland West community of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, the FACGC is dedicated to integrating and contributing to the future of our communities and this neighborhood.