AVANCE Featured in Austin Statesman

Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

By Juan Castillo – American-Statesman Staff

For much of the past 12 years, Brenda Martinez and her family lived in a bubble, self-isolated to their own detriment, the Honduran and Austin resident readily admits.

With limited English skills, and unfamiliar with educational and other opportunities available in this country, Martinez, her husband, Luis Zuniga, and their three children rarely ventured outside their neighborhood, an experience she said is common among Spanish-speaking immigrants, especially new arrivals.
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2013 Annual Luncheon A Great Success!

On October 23rd, 2013 AVANCE-Austin held its most successful Annual Luncheon to-date!

Guests enjoy lunch at The Driskill

This year, we honored Austin City Council Member Laura Morrison for her work in supporting education and community revitalization, and recognized Former State Representative Mark Strama for his promotion of quality early childhood education for the most disadvantaged in our community. The most heartfelt part of the afternoon, however, was AVANCE mother Brenda Martinez’s speech about how the program has transformed her family’s life.
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Applied Materials Foundation Invests in AVANCE-AUSTIN’S Early Education Program!!





AVANCE-Austin Partners with the Applied Materials Foundation to Meet the Growing Need in the Manor Community

At-risk families to receive school readiness services

Manor, TX – AVANCE-Austin has been granted $20,000 from the Applied Materials Foundation to extend parent-child education services to at-risk families in the Manor community. The Manor Parent-Child Education Project is a public/private alliance between AVANCE-Austin, Manor ISD, and Applied Materials, amongst others. The alliance aims to improve early education opportunities for underprivileged children, focusing where the neediest children live.

“The Applied Materials Foundations commitment to our most disadvantaged children is an example of a best practice for corporate philanthropy. They recognize that supporting early childhood development isn’t simply charity; it’s an investment in our future workforce and a prevention strategy for crime, teen pregnancy, and youth dropping out of school- all of which have economic and social implications for the larger community. We are grateful for their ongoing support,” said AVANCE-Austin’s executive director, Sofia Casini.
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AVANCE Featured On Telemundo

Austin, TX (July 2013) — AVANCE-Austin early childhood educator Angelica Brandt appeared on the local Telemundo station  to discuss the Parent-Child Education Program and its work in the  Latino community. The program offers predominantly low-income, Spanish-speaking families with young children (ages 0-3) the opportunity to increase their parenting skills while children attend a separate class to prepare them for success in kindergarten.  The overall goal of AVANCE is to close the academic achievement gap between Latino students and their peers by teaching parent that they are a child’s first teachers and the home is the first classroom.

AVANCE is currently enrolling for the 2013-2014 program year.  Classes are four hours long, and meet one morning each week at the program site nearest to the family’s home. The program is entirely free and transportation is available for those who do not have access to a car.


AVANCE-Austin Class of 2012-2013

AVANCE graduates from the program site at Baty Elementary receive their certificates.

Austin, TX (June 2013) 74 families, including 75 parents and 89 young children, graduated from the AVANCE program during a ceremony on June 1st at Travis High School. Over the course of nine months, AVANCE parents attended weekly classes to improve their overall knowledge of child development, learn educational toy making, and receive English courses and valuable information about community resources. Their children gained the foundation for future success in school through early childhood instruction, which included monthly home visits and developmental screenings from AVANCE parent-educators.

Community members who provide funds and support for the AVANCE program so that it remains entirely free for all participants were there to congratulate families. Also in attendance was speaker Gina Hinojosa, AISD Board of Trustees Vice President, and Univision anchor Leslie Montoya, who was master of ceremonies at the event.

The graduation is always the highlight of the Parent-Child Education program year.  A majority of AVANCE mothers and fathers have not completed high school and are immigrants  lacking  financial resources and a  knowledge of the U.S school system. The ceremony represents the transformation the parents and their children undergo while participating in AVANCE, as well as their newly found confidence and eagerness to succeed educationally.  Thank you to everyone who made it possible for  us to continue to improve the lives of  families this year!

“Too Small to Fail” Brings Early Childhood Policy Into the National Conversation

Austin, TX (June 2013) An ever growing body of research shows the first five years build the foundation for the rest of a child’s life. “Too Small to Fail,”  a new collaborative initiative between Hilary Clinton and the non-partisan group Next Generation, seeks to increase awareness in the U.S about the scientific research backing early education and the need for parent support programs.

The AVANCE program was recognized  in Hilary Clinton’s book  It Takes a Village as an organization that promotes in mothers the success and good health of their babies.  The  recently released video below discusses the need for critical services like those  AVANCE provides at-risk Latino communities to prepare children, and their parents, for success.


Families Advocate For Home Visits at State Capitol

AVANCE, Inc. CEO Rick Noriega, AVANCE-Austin Executive Director Sofia Casini and AVANCE participants at the Capitol

Child abuse, poverty, unemployment — these are some of society’s costliest problems that have roots in the earliest years of a child’s development.  Quality early childhood education programs, including voluntary monthly home visits, help at-risk families get the right start. AVANCE offers monthly, one-on-one home visits to  families as a part of our holistic approach to promoting school-readiness in underserved communities  On March 15th,  AVANCE  graduates joined AVANCE, Inc. CEO, Rick Noriega, and Executive Director, Sofia Casini,  for Home Visiting Advocacy Day at the Texas  State Capitol.

Sponsored by the Texas Association for the Protection of Children, the day was to garner support among legislators for Senate Bill  426. The bill would provide funding to increase the number of families served by programs that offer home visits. AVANCE participant mothers and their children went door to door at Capitol offices to share their stories with decision makers. Home visits reinforce the skills parents and children gain in the AVANCE classroom, promote a safe home environment, and help identify any delays in the child’s development so that referrals to partner non-profit agencies can be made.
Currently, home visiting only serves 9% of the highest need families in Texas, which experts say is actually costing the state a lot more in the long run through emergency room visits, social welfare programs, and juvenile corrections systems.  The Rand Corporation estimates a return of $5.70 for every dollar invested in quality home visiting programs.  Let your Representative know that you support Senate Bill 426 to help AVANCE families.


For more information visit http://www.texprotects.org/site/News2?id=5974 


AVANCE Recognized for Its Impact

AVANCE’s dual-generation approach to early childhood education makes it  one of the most comprehensive and effective early childhood programs in the country. Each week mothers attend classes to learn how to become better parents, while their children attend to help prepare them to succeed in  kindergarten and beyond.

Rubisela poses with her two children, Ruby (3.5 years) and Alondra (3 months) during a home visit. Mother and both children were participants in AVANCE'S class of 2011.

After impacting families across Texas for almost forty years, AVANCE has been named one of the top-performing nonprofit organizations in the United States on a newly launched online giving platform. The Social Impact 100 (S&I 100) (www.SI100.org) is the first-ever broad index of U.S. nonprofits that have evidence of results and the potential to grow. The Index helps nonprofits find the capital they need to reach more people and empowers donors to make a bigger difference. Out of over 100 organizations, AVANCE is the only early education-focused nonprofit headquartered in Texas to be featured in the S&I 100, and is helping to place Texas at the forefront of discussions surrounding the importance of early education.




The Full Report: AVANCE-Austin exceeds goals for 2011-2012 program

Each year the AVANCE national headquarters in San Antonio sets certain benchmarks that  AVANCE programs throughout the country must meet. We are very excited to report that AVANCE-Austin, not only met, but exceeded all of our yearly objectives for 2011-2012: To promote literacy, increase parenting skills, and instill the importance of education in the families we serve.  The method for measuring our success over the course of the year was a survey filled out by the participants before and after their experience in the 9- month program. Their responses to questions such as, “How many times do you read to your child each week?” along with an evaluation of their parenting skills demonstrates that these mothers are preparing their children for both success in school and in life. Bien hecho!

To view the full report and demographic data on our participants:

AVANCE-Austin End-of-Year Report 2012

AVANCE-Austin Honors Judge Orlinda Naranjo at 5th Annual Luncheon

(Left to right) Telemundo anchor Karla Leal, Judge Orlinda Naranjo, and supporter Janis Pinelli

Friends and supporters of AVANCE-Austin gathered at the Driskill Hotel on October 17thfor the 5th Annual Fundraising Luncheon. This year’s event was one of the most successful to date, bringing in over $40,000 in donations to support the important work of the Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP). 

 Judge Orlinda Naranjo, the first Latina elected to countywide bench in Austin was honored at the Luncheon for her years of public service and commitment to justice for the underserved. She shared her inspiring life story with attendees and applauded mothers in the AVANCE program for taking the first step to give their child a brighter future:

“Moms who have gone through the AVANCE program are successful because they’ve dreamed bigger and better things for their children,” Naranjo said, “They have made a commitment to take their children down the path of success.”

Angelica Mendez, AVANCE-Austin parent graduate shows luncheon guests the doll she made for her daughter in the program.

Judge Naranjo was born into a working-class, Spanish-speaking household in New Mexico. Her mother was a maid and school cook, while her father operated heavy equipment. As a young woman, Judge Naranjo was able to pay her own way through college despite obstacles such as the death of her father when she was just fifteen, and becoming a mother at seventeen.  In 2012, Judge Naranjo was appointed to The National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the courts, served for six years on the Texas Indigent Defense Task Force, and currently serves on the Texas Judicial Council, working to improve the Texas legal System.

Luncheon guests also heard firsthand about the impact of the AVANCE-Austin program from parent graduate Angelica Mendez.  Angelica credits AVANCE-Austin’s Parent-Child Education program with making her a better mother: “I learned how to be a better parent, to make toys and play with my daughter. After AVANCE, my daughter was ready for Pre-K. Her teachers trust her to do errands and she knows all her colors, numbers and letters. I am very proud of her.”