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More than 100 AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program Families to Tour Sonoma State University

Published:  March 1, 2017

On Saturday, March 4, more than 100 low-income, mostly Spanish-speaking Latino families will visit Sonoma State University (SSU) to learn how they can make attending college possible for their children and themselves. The parents and their children are part of the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program. Ten classes of families currently participate in the nine-month-long program, where a key message is “graduating from college begins at birth.” First 5 Sonoma County Commission (First 5) has funded AVANCE since 2010. 

“Now, more than ever, it is critical to invest in Sonoma County’s children and their parents so that every member of our community has the opportunity to succeed and thrive. Not only does AVANCE help to ensure children are ready to succeed when they reach kindergarten, but also supports parents to pursue development of English fluency, increased literacy, GED completion, and enrollment in college and vocational programs,” stated Angie Dillon-Shore, First 5 Sonoma Executive Director. One of First 5’s critical investments is the AVANCE program. First 5’s AVANCE commitment for fiscal years 2015-18 is $1.44 million.

AVANCE is a “dual generation” approach that has been proven by research to help parents be their child’s first and most important teacher, as well as pursue their own educational and career goals. AVANCE has reached over a thousand Sonoma County parents who lack equitable access to our K-12 and college education systems due to poverty, social isolation, limited English skills and education.

The tour, made possible with funding by the John Jordan Foundation, begins with a presentation by SSU’s Jose Padilla. He tells parents how they can prepare their children for college, including how to access financial aid. A bilingual student panel will follow, sharing personal stories of how they overcame obstacles on their own paths as first-generation college students. The students offer advice to the pre-K-12 students in the audience as well as their parents. The students then lead the participants on a tour of the campus and dorms. The day ends with a real-life college experience— eating lunch in The Kitchens, the student dining facility inside the Student Center.

“Thanks to AVANCE a world of opportunities have been opened to me. I continue to search and achieve new educational goals. AVANCE means to move forward and that is exactly what we do, we move forward!” said Juan Calvillo of Santa Rosa, 2016 AVANCE graduate and recent GED graduate. Juan is his child’s first teacher and role model. 

First 5 Sonoma County adopted the AVANCE program as one of the evidence-based programs included in its 10-year strategic plan. Locally the program is delivered by Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, Petaluma Adult School, and the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. Since the Fall of 2010, 1,260 Sonoma County families have participated in AVANCE, and First 5 has invested $2.2 million. 

The nine-member First 5 Sonoma County Commission was established through the California Children and Families First Act of 1998 and directed to promote, support, and improve the early development of children from the prenatal stage through five years of age.  The Act established a tobacco tax which funds the work of this Commission.