History of AVANCE

The story of AVANCE began in 1973 in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Gloria Rodriguez, an elementary bilingual teacher, had been inspired by the revolutionary work of Dr. Phyllis Levenstein and was looking for funding to start her own program for local families. At the same time, the Zale Foundation had funded a pilot of a Mother-Infant Program in Dallas, led by Cornell doctoral students, and was searching for someone to oversee an expansion of the program into San Antonio.


Providence brought the two together, and Dr. Rodriguez founded AVANCE in September 1973. Not long afterward, AVANCE began offering programming at the Mirasol Housing Project on the West Side of San Antonio.

AVANCE has grown since those early days – first within San Antonio, then across Texas, and by 2012, across the Nation. Today, AVANCE serves more than 13,000 caregivers and children annually across Texas and California.


Over the past 50 years, AVANCE has earned broad recognition as being one of the leading two-generation programs in the nation. Notable visits from national and international dignitaries include the Reverend Jesse Jackson, King Charles III, and former U.S. First Ladies Laura Bush, and the late Rosalynn Carter and Barbara Bush. AVANCE and PCEP were highlighted in books by former First Ladies Hillary Clinton and the late Rosalynn Carter and Barbara Bush. AVANCE has been featured in the New York Times, NBC’s Education Nation, ABC’s World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and several social documentaries such as Ounce of Prevention, Scared Silent, and No Small Matter. Explore our historical timeline below to learn more about how we have grown into a national leader in two-generation programming.

Timeline of Accomplishments

1972 - Every story has a beginning

1972 – Every story has a beginning

With funding from the Zale Foundation, doctoral students studying under Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner at Cornell begin piloting the Mother-Infant program in Dallas, TX.
1973 - AVANCE is born

1973 – AVANCE is born

In an expansion of the Dallas model, Dr. Gloria Rodriguez, a teacher and advocate for parent education, founds AVANCE in San Antonio and begins offering the Parent-Child Education Program (originally called the Mother-Infant Program) at the Mirasol Housing Project on San Antonio’s West Side.  
1986 - Your Majesty, may we present AVANCE

1986 – Your Majesty, may we present AVANCE

During his trip to Texas, Price Charles, now King Charles III, King of the United Kingdom, stopped by San Antonio’s West Side to visit the organization advocating for parent education, AVANCE. 
1988 - AVANCE in the Spotlight

1988 – AVANCE in the Spotlight

The New York Times and ABC World News present the widely acclaimed Parent-Child Education Program, and the First Lady, Barbara Bush visits AVANCE for the first time.  
1988 - Another Door Opens

1988 – Another Door Opens

AVANCE expands in Texas with the opening of a new chapter office, AVANCE-Houston. 
1990 - An Even Start for children

1990 – An Even Start for children

AVANCE receives one of the first Nationwide Even Start Programs grants to improve the academic achievement of young children and their parents in low-income families, especially in the area of reading. 
1991 - AVANCE goes National

1991 – AVANCE goes National

AVANCE opens the National Headquarters in San Antonio, TX and establishes the first National Board of Directors 
1991 - An Oprah-tunity

1991 – An Oprah-tunity

Oprah Winfrey invites AVANCE to be part of “Scared Silent,” a documentary about child abuse. 
1996 - A New Chapter

1996 – A New Chapter

AVANCE-Dallas (now AVANCE-North Texas) opens with five employees, three sites, and a budget of $300,000. AVANCE is featured in First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book “It Takes a Village” in which she presents her vision for the children of America.
1997 - Deep in the Heart of Texas

1997 – Deep in the Heart of Texas

AVANCE opens a new chapter in the state capitol, AVANCE-Austin. 
1998 - Book Debut

1998 – Book Debut

In her book, “Helping Someone with Mental Illness,” First Lady Rosalynn Carter cites AVANCE in discussing the effectiveness of organizations in the promotion of mental well-being. 
2010 - Unprecedented Achievement

2010 – Unprecedented Achievement

AVANCE makes history by becoming the recipient of a $12.6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to expand the core Parent-Child Education Program across the Nation. 
2012 - Excellence in Education

2012 – Excellence in Education

AVANCE receives the H-E-B Excellence in Education Award and the Simmons Luminary Award for Education Excellence for its innovative programming that serves as a model for improving education. 
2014 - Taking 2Gen to a Higher Level

2014 – Taking 2Gen to a Higher Level

AVANCE joins the Ascend Network at the Aspen Institute, a catalyst and convener for collaborators to elevate innovative two-generation approaches to educational success and economic mobility. 
2014 - Focusing on Rural Communities 

2014 – Focusing on Rural Communities 

AVANCE opens the first Parent-Family Community Engagement Center in Alamo, TX, serving the broader Rio Grande Valley Region. 
2018 - 45-Year-Old Startup

2018 – 45-Year-Old Startup

AVANCE Inc. refocuses and begins updating the core Parent-Child Education Program with assistance from The Harvard Center on the Developing Child, Frontiers of Innovation, Child Trends, and True Point consulting. 
2019 - Expanding our Two-Gen Model

2019 – Expanding our Two-Gen Model

AVANCE pilots a new program to support family child care providers to increase the quality of care for children in their homes: the Quality Child Care Matters Program.  With great success of the pilot in Hidalgo County, TX, the Texas Workforce Commission funds AVANCE to expand the Quality Child Care
2020 - Resilience amid a Global Crisis

2020 – Resilience amid a Global Crisis

In response to COVID-19, AVANCE adapts the Parent-Child Education Program for virtual delivery. AVANCE becomes an affiliate of UnidosUS. Office of Head Start awards AVANCE a grant expanding Head Start and Early Head Start in the Rio Grande Valley across Starr and Zapata Counties. 
2021 - Continued Growth & Innovation

2021 – Continued Growth & Innovation

With support of the Texas Workforce Commission, AVANCE launches a statewide business coaching program for family child care providers. In partnership with El Paso Community College and Workforce Borderplex, AVANCE pilots AVANCE to College, a program that utilizes the Parent-Child Education Program to provide parents direct access to postsecondary education.
2022 - All Together Now

2022 – All Together Now

AVANCE hosts the first annual Two-Generation Learning Conference, bringing together staff and educators from PCEP sites all across the network. AVANCE begins a pilot of Families Building Communities, a follow-up leadership development program for PCEP graduates.