Once a week for four hours, Avance parents participate in educational toy making classes, ESL classes, and parenting workshops while their children follow a thematic curriculum. The fourth hour of each weekly meeting always focuses on literacy. “Literacy is the greatest gift. It unlocks the world. When a child can read—when we unlock that love of reading in a child—he or she can find out anything, be anything. All careers are open,” said Dallas Avance’s Executive Director Anne Thomas.
Thomas believes that schools can lose a child in Kindergarten when he or she arrives already behind. “We decide the future need of jail cells based on third grade statistics,” she said. Avance responds to this need through early intervention for parents and children. With a 2.2 million dollar budget, Avance also operates twelve free book clubs for parents in the DFW area. Each family keeps eight books after the completion of the program.
Avance tracks its children through high school and has identified significant outcomes. “Our programs inspire high attendance rates and affect graduation rates. Avance children have an 87% graduation rate from high school,” Thomas explained.
A significant part of the Avance program is home visits to its members. These are not a social work visit but rather an opportunity for parents to learn about developmental stages for their children, how to play with the home-made educational toys, and how to incorporate literacy into the home environment.
Each Avance child graduates in June with cap and gown. “Today I am still practicing what I learned in Avance to guide my children in their education, and they have always been in talented and gifted classes. Both of my children know that one day they will go to the university,” said Avance mother Marielena. Such emphasis on education is truly aligned with Uplift’s mission of closing the achievement gap one scholar at a time.
Avance’s mission is to unlock America’s potential by strengthening families in at-risk communities through effective parent education and support programs. To find a local cohort of Avance, visit :