Millions awarded to AVANCE to boost fathers, healthy marriages

November, 2015

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has awarded AVANCE $3.3 million in grants to promote healthy marriage, responsible fatherhood, and foster economic stability through workforce development and financial education.

With $1.3 million per year for five years, AVANCE will pilot its Fathers in Action/Padres Actívos Program to low-income fathers and their significant others in the Rio Grande Valley and Houston. In these areas,  34.8 percent and 18.5 percent of residents live in poverty, respectively.

"Poverty is one of the harshest inhibitors to good family functioning," said Rick Noriega, AVANCE president and CEO. "Poverty experienced during the first five years of life is more detrimental than in any other point during childhood or adolescence. The children we serve frequently do not receive adequate cognitive stimulation, nurturing, emotional stability, and physical comforts that promote their optimal growth and development. These programs aim to intervene at this decisive point and change the course for Texas families."

AVANCE-Houston was also awarded $2 million a year for five years to extend their Healthy Marriage Program. This interactive weekly program provides married, engaged couples or singles access to marriage education services, so they can acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to form, sustain and enhance the quality of their relationships for the well-being of the family unit.

"We are excited about this grant because it also includes an evaluation and research component that will allow us to measure the benefits for the families that participate in the program," said Jose Villarreal, AVANCE-Houston Executive Director.

Current research shows that children do better with present fathers. Other studies show that children with loving, engaged fathers are significantly more likely to succeed in school, have healthy self-esteem, and avoid high-risk behaviors including drug use, truancy, and criminal activity.

ACF funded 55 organizations across the United States to provide Responsible Fatherhood activities to help fathers:

 AVANCE is a national nonprofit dedicated to providing innovative education and family support services to hard-to-reach families since 1973. AVANCE strives to empower families to break the cycle of poverty through a proven two-generation approach combining early childhood development and parenting education. For more information, visit