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Hurricane Harvey Update

Dear Friends and Supporters,

On September 11,  we started our first day of classes for Head Start, Early Head Start and GED programs.  It was heartwarming to see all our staff back in action welcoming the parents and children into our centers. As you know, these last couple of weeks have been difficult for our community due to the impact of Hurricane Harvey. I want to thank you for reaching out to AVANCE either by contacting me directly or through other staff members to express your thoughts, concerns or to offer your support throughout these unprecedented times.

My infinite gratitude also goes to first responders, volunteers, organizations, foundations, and all individuals who rolled up their sleeves during the preparation period and recovery stage of Hurricane Harvey. While we still have a journey ahead of us, I am certain that we will continue to join forces as a community to rebuild and rise stronger together.

As we continue our path to recovery I would like to share with you a brief update reflecting some actions taken by AVANCE to get back to our regular operations:

  • Assessed and Repaired All Locations:

All AVANCE locations were assessed and repaired to meet safety standards for our staff and students.

  • Identified Impact on Staff and Provided Assistance:

We assessed the impact Harvey caused on staff and their families and identified internal financial assistance and counseling services to assist those affected. We also offered flexible work  schedules.

  • Identified Impact on Participants and Provided Assistance:

Communicated with students enrolled in our programs and connected them to resources based on their needs.  They were also updated on new start dates for all programs.

  • Collected Donations to Aid Staff and Families:

We set up a donation site and received many donations from the community.  These donations were distributed to our staff and families who were affected by the storm.

  • Provided Links to Other Resources:

Continuously sought resources providing assistance and shared information with staff and families

We will continue to work with staff and families to identify ongoing needs that aid in the recovery of our community.

I once again thank you for all your support throughout this period.  I am excited to share more updates and smiling photos of our parents and children in our classrooms soon.

We are #AVANCEHoustonStrong !

Sincerely,

Luz Flores,

Executive Director

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Congratulations Class of 2017!

It’s graduation time! Congratulations to all of our graduates from our Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP), Head Start, Fatherhood, Healthy Marriage and GED programs! I also want to congratulate members of our own AVANCE-Houston family who have earned their graduate degrees.

Graduation is a time of reflection, but it is also a beginning. Regardless of where you are in your educational journey, each step takes you further along your path. All of our graduates will face challenges, from our Head Start preschoolers to our parents and staff members. But with every step, you are creating something wonderful, you are creating your life, you are creating a better family, and you are creating a better community.  As President Barak Obama said to the graduating class at Howard University in 2016, “… When your journey seems too hard, and when you run into a chorus of cynics who tell you that you’re being foolish to keep believing or that you can’t do something, or that you should just give up, or you should just settle—you might say to yourself a little phrase that I’ve found handy: Yes, we can.”

Each of our graduates not only could, but they did! We are so very proud of you.

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Over 200 participants graduated from our PCEP program. AVANCE Board Member Daniel Arguijo delivered the keynote address at the ceremony held at the Houston Community College West Loop Campus on June 2. PCEP, a national model of early childhood intervention, teaches parents how to help their children excel during their most critical years of learning. The program is based on the premise that parents are their children’s first and most important teachers.

Congratulations to the 638 children who completed our Head Start program. These 5-year-olds are ready for a successful transition into the formal classroom, and a life-long college-bound culture.

This year, 184 adults and 110 young students graduated from our  Healthy Marriage: Strong Families, Strong CommunitiesProgram. The program served three groups, English speaking adults, Spanish speaking adults and youths in the City of Pasadena. The workshops focus on relationship building, job placement, and educational opportunities. The workshops were held at AVANCE Houston Head Start Centers and community partner locations.

Thirty-five fathers and father figures graduated from our Fatherhood: Fathers in Action program. This is a holistic, whole family program that provides education information, and counseling services on domestic violence and child maltreatment, and workforce development. Fathers in Action is an intensive program aimed at maintaining and improving relationship, enhancing parenting skills and fostering economic stability.

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We are also proud of our 16 GED graduates who prepared for their high school equivalency exam through the AVANCE Adult Education Program. The program delivers access to educational services for participants throughout the Texas Workforce Solutions system.  It increases opportunities for students and promotes transitions at all levels of postsecondary education and training or employment.

AVANCE is all about our students, parents and even our staff appreciating the value of higher education. So, as I congratulate the graduates of our AVANCE programs, I must also congratulate a few of our staff members who have graduated this spring. Eric Johnson earned his Master of Business Administration, Nonprofit Management from Springfield College-Tampa in April. Also in April, Bernadette Lewis graduated from Devry University’s Keller Graduate Program with a Master of Business Administration, Concentration in Human Resources with honors. In May, Janely Diaz received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with Honors, specializing in field accounting, from Ashworth College, and Katya Sousa earned a Masters in Early Childhood from Stephen F. Austin University. Dora Hinojosa graduated from Springfield College and University Massachusetts-Houston Campus with a Masters of Leadership and Management in June.

Education at every stage opens up new opportunities, new possibilities. AVANCE-Houston is here to help you realize your dreams and your potential. To borrow from another successful individual, Oprah Winfrey, “Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.”

 Congratulations graduates!

 

 

 

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Our Luncheon “Composing Notes of Education” is Only a Few Weeks Away

A child’s education is like a well-crafted symphony. It begins with the basic notes, and with care and nurturing, develops into a full orchestral progression of learning and a crescendo of achievement.  We,  at AVANCE are dedicated to Composing Notes of Education” and helping parents to advance their children’s potential through effective parenting education and support programs. I want to let you know that we are celebrating our achievements and sharing future plans at our 4th Annual Luncheon.

You are invited to join us at the Junior League of Houston on Friday, April 7 at 11:30 a.m. 

The learning tools acquired before a child enters the formal classroom is essential to their success.  The value of our programs in their academic careers of Houston students is recognized by this year’s keynote speaker, Houston ISD Superintendent Richard A. Carranza. We are also honored to host a special guest this year, Classical Violinist and Innovative Composer, Kai Kight, who will perform for your delight.

The luncheon is a platform that helps inform our community about our nationally recognized Parent-Child Education Program and our holistic service model.  During the event, two AVANCE families will be honored and will share their story with nearly 200 community leaders and education advocates. We hope to inspire those who care about strengthening the family unit and communities across Houston. The funds raised at the luncheon will allow us to continue to offer our programs and will be further used to award college scholarships for our GED graduates.

We need your help to continue Unlocking America’s Potential. Please join us at our 4th Annual Luncheon.  Table sponsorships and individual tickets are available at  http://www.avancehouston.org/2017-annual-luncheon.

 

 

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Luz Flores Recognized for Her Passion to Mentor Others

In recognition to thirty years of dedication and commitment to inspiring, mentoring, and serving others, AVANCE Houston Deputy Director, Luz Flores received the Wise Woman Award by the Houston Woman Magazine on August 19th, 2015.

Flores has been with AVANCE for the last six years empowering not only the Latino community but everyone who has had the pleasure to work with her out and inside an office.

This acknowledgment not only proves her great leadership, but also her continuous passion to serve AVANCE families.

The event took place at La Colombe d’Or Hotel and Restaurant where nearly two hundred people gathered to celebrate, suppo9rt, and connect with these exemplary women.

A total of 7 awards were presented during the inspiring awards ceremony for achievement in various fields including missions, community, business and many more.

Flores’ sister, Lilian Flores-Perez said “for my sister and for all of u
s (siblings) the family nucleus is very important, this award it’s with not doubt a reflection of that, […] as she is always ready to provide guidance and share her experiences with anyone who allows her to be their mentor.”

Beverly Denver, publisher of Houston Woman Magazine “Being able to put the spotlight on women who live their lives in ways that help and inspire others is especially rewarding.”

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AVANCE Board of Directors Appoint Luz Flores as Executive Director

Luz E. Flores has been designated to lead AVANCE-Houston, a United Way agency offering parenting, preschool, adult education, and workforce training serving nearly nine-thousand individuals annually in 20 locations across the city.

Flores’ appointment comes after José Villarreal, who served in the position since 2006, announced his retirement. AVANCE is distinguished for parental engagement, nationally recognized pre-school programs, and partnerships with school districts and universities.

Board Chairman, Ron Oran announced that Flores was selected from an extensive pool of qualified candidates.

Flores left her native Puerto Rico in the late 80’s and moved to Philadelphia P.A.  She arrived with a strong desire to build a career in public service; 10 years later she decided to call Houston her home, and over the past 28 years, she has lived her dream of helping transform communities.

She joined AVANCE-Houston in 2009 as Sr. Director of Human Resources, and shortly after transitioned to Deputy Director, serving as a key contributor to strategic planning, government and Board relations.

2Prior to joining AVANCE, she held the role of Vice President of Human Resources with the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, and also held leadership roles with United Way of Greater Houston and SER Jobs for Progress.

AVANCE is a two-generation national nonprofit with chapters in Texas, New Mexico, and California, and Flores feels thrilled for the opportunity to lead a team of over 400 employees in Houston; the largest AVANCE chapter.

“Luz brings a wealth of experience to this position. I am confident her leadership will guide Houston on its path of innovation to better serve more families and children,” said AVANCE President/CEO, Rick Noriega.

The AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) has been recognized among the top six, two-generation models in the nation.  The organization takes pride in serving a diverse population by offering services in English and Spanish; and also ranks among the top U.S. Hispanic-serving nonprofits.  Furthermore, five of the AVANCE-Houston Head Start centers have been recognized among the top early childhood education providers in the nation by earning NAEYC accreditation.

  “ An exciting journey lies ahead for me, and I look forward to working with the Board, partners, and staff to continue expanding and delivering the highest quality services to our families, ” says Flores, as she commences her new role leading the first AVANCE Health & Wellness Clinic, which opened its doors in July 2016 serving families in the Jensen Drive area.

The ground-breaking project, achieved through a partnership with UT Health School of Nursing, marked a new era for AVANCE, by incorporating a more comprehensive health component into its program model.

“It is gratifying for me, to continue this innovative and much-needed project that Jose initiated,” she adds.  

Throughout her career, Flores has successfully led hundreds of employees through periods of substantial growth and transition, and has developed strong partnerships in the community.

In 2015, she was honored with the Wise Woman award by Houston Woman Magazine for her professional achievements and contributions to the Houston community.   Under her leadership, the AVANCE-Houston communications and marketing department was honored “Non-Profit Communications Team of the Year,” by the Public Relations Society of America-Houston, in 2012 & 2015.

Flores holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Non-Profit Management from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio Texas, a Human Resources Certificate from Rice University. She is an American Leadership Forum (ALF)-Senior Fellow Graduate of Class XXXII, and serves on the Investing in Impact Committee with the National Head Start Association in Washington DC.