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Executive Director's Message

Academia Avance - Moving kids forward for 20 years!

When we developed Avance in 2004, we proposed a new school model for Highland Park that promised a rigorous preparation for college, with real-world experiences in a professional setting. Beginning with our first graduating class of 2011, there is real proof that Avance alumni are achieving these promised outcomes. Avance ranks among the top 10% of all public high schools located within the LAUSD boundaries, as measured by the California Department of Education "College Going Rate" index. Avance alumni now surpass 800, with graduates from all the campuses of the University of California, and almost all of CalState universities. Some two dozen alumni have returned to work at Avance, passing forward their experiences to the current students.
Avance-ros receive excellent classroom instruction from our dedicated teachers, with pedagogical support from the Success for All Foundation. But they also gain deep understanding from experiential learning OUTSIDE of the classroom. The Avance Workplace Education Experience program places seniors in professional setting internships in over two dozen enterprises like the Huntington Memorial Hospital, VETCO Veterinarian Clinic, MALDEF, and Red House Realty. Avance students have collaborated with youth of the Mohawk in Montreal, Cherokee in Oklahoma, Navajo in Arizona, Havasupai at the Grand Canyon, Seminole in Florida, and Zuni of New Mexico as part of the annual Senior Avance KidsBridge projects since 2011. They also have studied on-site the causes and impacts of the Flint Water Crisis in Michigan, the DuPont PFAS chemical contamination in West Virginia and New York, PCB pollution of Akwesasne along the banks of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Black Mesa coal mining controversy in Arizona. 
As an extension of KidsBridge visits to Chicago, Nashville, Miami, Houston and Upstate New York, Avance students, staff and parents have joined the advocacy efforts of the ACLU, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) and NDLON (National Day Laborer Organizing Network) which have led to the Governor signing into law AB 278 in 2023 which authorizes Dreamer Resource Center for high schools; of SB 54 in 2017, the California Values Act that ensures that our schools, our hospitals, and our courthouses are safe spaces for everyone; of AB 699 also in 2017 that protects immigrant students and their parents.
Avance students were recently recognized by the National DIversity Coalition as the exemplar model for peer-to-peer youth delivered financial literacy programs, based on Avance's work with the "Money Tale" children's book series authored by Sheila Bair, past Chair of the FDIC federal bank regulatory agency.
Avance students study hard, work harder, and play the hardest! Evidence that Avance students are well-rounded in addition to college-bound, consider the achievements of the Avance Athletics program. Of the 10 intermural athletic teams - basketball, soccer, volleyball, and cross-country for boys and girls at the high school and middle school levels - 5 have been champions in their leagues over the past decade.
Avance has always quickly adapted to the fast changing challenges of public education, and of our topsy turvy world. We moved with urgency to safeguard our students and staff and their families against COVID-19. And now we are reworking our courses to have our students know how to use AI correctly and effectively. We know that now there is artificial intelligence, but that there is no artificial WISDOM. Our students hold dear Consciousness, Reason, Synergy and Action - the Avance Core Values. We stand by the wisdom of Civil Rights leader and educator Dr. Howard Fuller who tells us: "To be able to continue in the struggle IS the victory!"
Visit the school! ...again if it's been awhile. Come talk with Avance students. They will describe their college and life plans, and listen to your advice. You will immediately see how your continued support has direct outcomes that will make Avance graduates the home owners, business and community leaders of Highland Park and Los Angeles.
Ricardo Mireles
Executive Director