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Logo of AVANCE
Type Educational Charity
Focus education and family support to predominantly Hispanic families in low-income communities.
  • San Antonio, Texas, USA
Area served
Method Education and Early Intervention Programs
Key people
President & CEO, Richard J. Noriega
Website www.avance.org

AVANCE is an American non-profit organization, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas with locations across the United States. Formed in 1973, it provides free parenting and early childhood education programs to low-income, predominately Hispanic, families with children of up to three years of age.[1]


AVANCE's name derives from the Spanish word for "advance"[1] It originally started in 1973 as a 500-unit public housing development serving 35 families in San Antonio, Texas. Currently it encompasses over 100 programs across U.S.A. The number of participants in its early childhood education/parenting and family support services number several thousand.[2][non-primary source needed] The concept of the organization was based on the educational theories of Urie Bronfenbrenner, of Cornell University,[2] and whose graduate students established the first AVANCE program in Dallas, Texas in 1973.[2] The founders received start-up funding from the Zale Corporation which allowed for an expansion of the program to San Antonio.


The basis of the pProgram is on Dr. Bronfenrenner's (1979) observations of the impact of environmental factors on human development.[3] This research suggested that factors external to the family were constraints to escaping from poverty cycles , and the research aimed to provide model for intervention.[3] The Parent-Child Education Program, adopted by AVANCE, focuses on the role of both parent and child.[3] It assists parents by providing a stable home environment improving the parents' language and work skills, their parenting knowledge, and awareness of community services.[3]

Parent-child education program[edit]

The principal program AVANCE promotes is the Parent-Child Education Program. This aims to help parents create a cognitively rich environment.[4] Teachers seek to do this by encouraging parents to stimulate their children's development through talking to them, praising them and interacting with the world around them.[5] The New York Times referred to the goal of AVANCE as, "Teaching mothers how to teach their children."[5] The program is structured in two tiers, with the first addressing the children's basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical services. The second stage focusses on the parents' educational needs, where applicable, with the aim of improving the home environment and parents' employment options.

The Parent-Child Education Program consists of weekly three-hour classes that are designed to mirror the local school calendar and comprises curricula based on Play and Toys, Parenting Education, Home Visits and Community Resource Awareness.[6] The average participant in the program is a low-income Hispanic mother in her mid-twenties, with 2 – 3 children. However, it also includes fathers, grandparents and primary guardians or caregivers of children up to three years of age.[7] The majority of participants possess no higher than a ninth-grade education and limited or no work experience.[8] A core tenet of the program is to provide practical support in order to encourage parental participation by arranging transport to and from program services, providing free meals and employing bilingual staff from the same communities as participants.[6] Individuals are not charged for participating in the program.[6]

Assessment of effectiveness[edit]

The effectiveness of the Parent-Child Education Program was evaluated over a four-year period, from 1987 – 1991 with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.[3] The evaluation studied a group of 486 individuals, comprising 207 participants in the AVANCE program and 279 in a control group.[8] The data collected related to maternal knowledge, behavior, attitudes and continuing education.[9] The study continued over a two-year period and concluded that "most of the program goals were attained to an impressive degree."[10] It found the two-generation Parent-Child Education Program for low-income families to be beneficial in such aspects as the home learning environment, maternal behaviors and attitudes towards children.[11] A review of the program in Early Childhood Education Journal, found that children in the AVANCE-Dallas chapter academically outperformed their peers. In the 2005 TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills), 88% of child graduates met the passing standard for reading, compared to 73% in the Dallas Independent School District and 83% in the state.[12]

A 1991 survey of 23 women and 32 children who had participated in AVANCE's first program group showed that 94% of the children had completed high school, received a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or were still in education.[13] In addition, 57% of the mothers who had previously dropped out of school, went back and resumed studies, subsequently attaining a GED.[13]

As part of a 1994 report into the state of care for children in U.S.A., the Carnegie Corporation commented on the AVANCE programs: "Evaluations show that Avance (sic.) programs improve families' ability to provide an emotionally stimulating and nurturing environment for their young children, positively influence mothers' childrearing attitudes and knowledge, and expand mother's use of community resources." [14] This was at a time, the report continued, when three million children, comprising almost 25% of all American infants and toddlers, lived in poverty.[15]

Dr. Susan B. Neuman investigated AVANCE's Parent-Child Education program as part of research into early intervention initiatives. She is Professor in Educational Studies at the University of Michigan, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, and was primarily responsible for implementing the No Child Left Behind Act.[16] The AVANCE program was one of nine non-school intervention initiatives that Dr. Neuman examined. She found high performance levels for children who had participated in the program. 100% of children scored excellent or satisfactory on the Dallas school district's kindergarten test of pre-reading skills.[17] Dr. Neuman concluded that AVANCE and the other programs demonstrated "impressive results".[18]

External recognition[edit]

In 2009 AVANCE was awarded the E Pluribus Unum Prize,[19] presented by the Migration Policy Institute's National Center on Immigration Integration Policy. This award is given in recognition of initiatives that help immigrants and their children to adapt and contribute to the United States.[20] In January 2012, AVANCE was awarded the Simmons Luminary Award for education excellence by Southern Methodist University.

The work of the organization has been commented upon by former First Ladies, Hillary Clinton, Rosalynn Carter and Barbara Bush, in relation to education. In a 1999 forum on educational initiatives and issues held in Washington D.C., Clinton described AVANCE as "...one of the most effective home-building programs of support. If you're not familiar with it, you should see it and read about it."[21] She had also written about the organization in her book, It Takes a Village.[22] Rosalynn Carter, in discussing the effectiveness of several organizations in the promotion of mental well-being, described AVANCE as one of those programs which '...have in common efforts to reduce the risk factors that can contribute to mental illness while they enhance protective factors that can help keep our children well.'[23] Separately, The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy recognized AVANCE among ten innovative family literacy programs that focused on early intervention.[24]

The organization was also included in a 1997 book and photographic exhibition called 'Pursuing the Dream', a joint venture between award-winning photographer, Stephen Shames and the Family Resource Coalition (FRC). This was the culmination of a two-year photographic record undertaken by Shames, of community programs serving disadvantaged youth and families and helping families achieve financial and emotional stability.[25]

The organization's work has been commented upon by Hillary Clinton,[22] Rosalynn Carter[23] and Barbara Bush,[24] and it has also been reported upon by The New York Times.[26]

It has also receivedf avorable notice from The New York Times. [27] and from Sue Mill Wiltz, in Harvard Education Letter, '[28]

AVANCE was ranked by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the top 25 non-profit organizations supporting Hispanic people in the U.S.A. in 2011.[29]


AVANCE operates through donations from business organizations and individuals. In addition, AVANCE receives donations from churches, food banks, schools, government agencies, social and civic groups. Some universities also allow the organization to use their campuses for graduation ceremonies.[13]


  1. ^ a b "'Home'". Avance. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  2. ^ a b c "'AVANCE's History'". avance.org. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  3. ^ a b c d e AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program - paper written by Todd B. Walker, Gloria Rodriguez, Dale L. Johnson, Carmen P. Cortez, published in report entitled Two Generation Programs for Families in Poverty: A New Intervention Strategy'. Edited by Sheila Smith. Ablex Publishing Corporation. p. 69. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  4. ^ "The AVANCE Model". Avance. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  5. ^ a b "The New York Times1"
  6. ^ a b c "The AVANCE Model"
  7. ^ "'Focus'" (PDF). Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison. p. 25. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  8. ^ a b "Focus"
  9. ^ "'Carnegie Corporation Study'". avance.org. Archived from the original on 2011-12-28. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  10. ^ "'Compendium of Comprehensive, Community-based Initiatives'". The Finance Project. Retrieved 2012-01-12. [permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Multisite Parents As Teachers Evaluation – Experiences And Outcomes For Children And Families" (PDF). SRI International. June 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-13. Retrieved 2012-01-11. 
  12. ^ Schaller, Rocha & Barshinger 2006, p. 355.
  13. ^ a b c "Compendium of Comprehensive, Community-based Initiatives"
  14. ^ "The Quiet Crisis" (PDF). Carnegie.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-14. Retrieved 2012-01-11. 
  15. ^ "'Study Confirms Some Fears on U.S. Children'". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  16. ^ "Archived: Biography of Susan B. Neuman, Former Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education". Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  17. ^ "Neuman, Susan B. (2009). Changing the Odds for Children at Risk: Seven Essential Principles of Educational Programs That Break the Cycle of Poverty" (PDF). Education Review. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-14. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  18. ^ "'24/7 School Reform'". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  19. ^ "2009 E Pluribus Unum Winner". mirgrationinformation.org. Retrieved 2012-01-11. 
  20. ^ "Accolades for AVANCE". avance.org. Archived from the original on 2011-12-28. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  21. ^ Hoholik 1999.
  22. ^ a b Hillary Rodham Clinton (1996). It takes a village: and other lessons children teach us. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-81843-6. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  23. ^ a b Rosalynn Carter; Susan K. Golant (27 April 1999). Helping someone with mental illness: a compassionate guide for family, friends, and caregivers. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-8129-2898-3. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  24. ^ a b "Education Resources Information Center". www.eric.ed.gov. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  25. ^ Stephen Shames; Kathy Goetz Wolf; Michael Jordan; Roger Rosenblatt (September 1997). Pursuing the dream: what helps children and their families succeed. Family Resource Coalition (Chicago, Ill.). Aperture. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  26. ^ "'Program in Texas Helps Hispanic Mothers Discover Their Children and Themselves'". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  27. ^ "'Rescue the Future, at Birth'". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  28. ^ "'Bringing Parents on Board'". Harvard Education Letter. Archived from the original on 2010-06-16. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  29. ^ "The Top 25 Hispanic Nonprofits for 2011". hispanicbusiness.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Smith, John; Oglesby Rocha, Lisa; Barshinger, David (2007). "Maternal Attitudes and Parent Education How Immigrant Mothers Support Their Child's Education Despite Their Own Low Levels of Education". Early Childhood Education Journal. 34 (5): 351. doi:10.1007/s10643-006-0143-6. 
  • Hoholik, Suzanne (August 3, 1999). "First lady applauds Avance’s success". San Antonio Express-News (PDF). Hearst Communications Inc. 

External links[edit]