The pandemic has increased the need for potential and current students and their families to identify and access financial, career, health, and family care resources. At the intersection of multiple identities or “intersectionality” (e.g., parent + STEM student + first generation + second-language learner + woman of color) barriers to education and workforce are compounded. DACC also serves undocumented and international students who have been negatively impacted because they have lost their jobs, but don’t qualify for support available to citizens, and/or they have been unable to renew their status. In response, the college is scaling the pilot success of a bilingual wrap-around support program—AVANZA— from its initial launch at South County Centers to serve students across all DACC campuses.
In Spanish, AVANZA means “to advance,” and refers to advancing our institutional culture and acknowledging the institution’s responsibility to help students advance toward their educational goals. AVANZA builds on the Working Student Success Network framework developed by Achieving the Dream, providing wrap-around services to DACC students with the goal of increasing retention and completion.
The program delivers bilingual student support through 3 Pillars: Education & Career Services, Income & Work Supports, and Financial Services & Asset Building. In 2021 AVANZA delivered mental health awareness and services for the undocumented/DACA community through “Undocu-Student Support,” connecting them with service providers and an immigration attorney who could assist students, staff members, and families. By designing a culture of compassion, empathy, awareness and empowerment, AVANZA is seeing and supporting the students and families who are most in need, paving the way for them to fully engage in available STEM educational and workforce opportunities.