In 1969, Houston's East End was plagued with problems of drug abuse, school dropouts, teen pregnancy and juvenile crime. A small group of students, businessmen and teachers banded together to discuss how they could reduce drug abuse, keep teens in school, provide wholesome recreational opportunities and prepare students to become leaders. As a result of their discussions, the Association for the Advancement of Mexican-Americans was formed in 1970. The first board included:

  • Luis Cano
  • Froilan Hernandez
  • Ninfa Laurenzo
  • Roland Laurenzo
  • David Martinez
  • Yolanda Navarro

Offering recreation and other programs out of an old house on Sampson Street, AAMA received its first grant of $40,000 to provide youth services in 1971. Today, AAMA's budget exceeds $11 million and the organization helps more than 11,000 people annually.

Historical Highlights

  • 1970 - Association for the Advancement of Mexican-Americans founded
  • 1973 - George I. Sanchez School founded
  • 1976 - Drug prevention program begun
  • 1978 - Casa de Esperanza - later named Casa Phoenix - opened
  • 1985 - Golf Tournament held for first time, raising $1,000
  • 1986 - Largest fundraising gala held featuring San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros
  • 1987 - Adelante program for adults created
  • 1987 - AAMA became an affiliate of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization
  • 1988 - AAMA formed a Community Development Corporation to develop affordable housing
  • 1990 - AAMA purchased Houston Office Center, the former NASA office site, on Gulf Freeway
  • 1991 - Developed key partnership with HISD to assist school dropouts
  • 1994 - Began Counseling and Prevention programs along the Texas/Mexico border
  • 1996 - State Board of Education named Sanchez High School as one of the state's first Charter Schools
  • 1997 - Hispanic Magazine recognized Sanchez Charter School as one of "Five Schools of Excellence"
  • 1999 - New $4.2 million Multi-purpose Educational Center opened
  • 2001 - AAMA Family Healthcare Clinic opened
  • 2004 - Received the first of three grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation totaling $1.6 million
  • 2005 - Sanchez Charter School added 7th grade
  • 2008 - The $5 million AAMA Learning Center opened
  • 2012 - NCLR named AAMA the Affiliate of the Year
  • 2013 - Sanchez Charter School added 6th grade
  • 2015 - Sanchez Charter North opened in Northside of Houston

AAMA's future plans include construction of a parking garage on the Gulf Freeway campus, opening new Sanchez Charter School campuses, extending the reach of AAMA Adelante, and expanding the services offered through our Prevention and Counseling Services.