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Student Success Spotlight


“I lost that opportunity. But I will be prepared for the next one.”

Marisol had been overjoyed to be offered a job at her children’s school – her dedication as a parent volunteer had been noticed by the principal. But that joy quickly turned to trepidation, and then dismay.

“I didn’t speak English well enough. I knew I couldn’t take the job.” A phone call with the superintendent only confirmed that fear. “She said the meetings would be all in English. I knew I couldn’t do it.”

Asked how that felt, Marisol reflects for a moment, then says quietly, “It felt really bad.”

You can prepare a parent for their chance at success - when you make a gift to Literacy Advance today.

Not being qualified for a straightforward job was certainly an unfamiliar feeling for Marisol. After a childhood in a poor village in Mexico, she had made her own success, earning a medical degree and starting a rewarding career as a medical practitioner. She was dedicated and focused, working 7 days a week as the head of a team.

But after marriage, a move to Houston, and two children, life changed – radically. As a new parent, Marisol was anxious that her children speak English well, and have a good start in life. But she was figuring out her new life in the U.S. herself, and felt ill-prepared to guide them. Soon, she was floundering.

“The best help we can give our kids is to be an example,” says Marisol today. But she knew that her shaky English and inability to continue her career wasn’t the example she wanted to set. As her children grew older, and homework started coming home, she found herself out of her depth, anxious, and doubting herself.

Marisol resolved to change her life’s path and to open new possibilities for her children. She registered at Literacy Advance, and immediately loved her English classes. She deeply appreciated how practical the content was, and how her dedicated volunteer tutor worked to provide relevant, motivating lessons. She threw herself into practicing school-focused language and learning about the U.S. school system.

“My class at Literacy Advance helped so much. Now, when my kids’ teachers send us homeworks, instructions, I can read the entire thing in English and look for the information I need.” With growing confidence, Marisol signed up at her local library, and says she always has English books in the house now, reading regularly with her children.

Marisol’s success would not be possible without caring friends just like you. There are hundreds more parents at Literacy Advance, striving to make a new future for themselves and their families. Each has their own unique story - and each needs your support. Please, make a gift today to open new opportunities for one of these families.

After some years out of the workforce, and with family finances strained, it became more and more urgent that Marisol find a job. But, she says, “I had a lot of fear. I was scared of speaking in English and that people would not understand me.” Marisol met with the Literacy Advance Transition staff to get connected to vocational classes at partner agencies in Houston. She eagerly joined a Literacy Advance pilot of distance-learning software, which gave her the opportunity to learn language specific to the medical field, at her own pace at home.

Fast forward, and Marisol’s now successfully completed courses in nursing, Phlebotomy, and Medical Terminology – and she’s working on EKG. The community center where she takes those classes works hand-in-hand with some of the big Houston hospitals and will hold interviews with new graduates in September – when, says Marisol with a smile and new-found certainty: “I will graduate, and get a job.”

“This is the land of opportunity, and you have to be prepared when the opportunity comes. I was not prepared before, but I am prepared now.”

We cannot continue to open opportunities without your help.

Please give today.

We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, that you care enough to stand by one of your neighbors as they make themselves and their family ready for their opportunity to thrive.

With gratitude,

melanie fisk robin tooms

Melanie Fisk, MSW, MBA
Chief Executive Officer

 Robin Tooms
Board President





 P.S. Parents and job-seekers reach out to us with hope - yearning to make a change and to set their families on a new and brighter path. And your contribution will make that hope real, paving the way to a future full of promise. Thanks to you, these eagerly waiting families will get what they need to flourish. Please send your most generous gift today, to help more families prepare for the bright opportunities ahead. Thank you, thank you!


Why we urgently need your help

Donors like you are a lifeline for our students. More than a million adults across Houston can’t effectively communicate in English, a crucial lack of skills that ripples out insidiously to affect every aspect of their lives.

Not only does low literacy limit a person’s ability to get and keep a job and to reach their own potential, its heavy weight is also felt on the next generation. Parents are a child’s first teacher and low literacy can repeat itself through generations of families.

When you give to Literacy Advance, you’re part of the solution. Our specialized classes give students the opportunity to focus on the language they need RIGHT NOW.

As of today, we’ve got three new parent-focused English classes on the schedule, using specialized curriculum and tailored to the needs of caregivers with kids in the Houston school system.

If nothing changes, those classes will help 25 families by the end of this year. That’s great, but it leaves more than 300 still on the waitlist - with more registering for classes every day. Your help today will supply tutor recruitment, training, and ongoing support, along with the specialized curriculum and supplementary materials that those waiting parents need.

Will you provide this crucial help to a Houston family today?

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