Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors

What if all parents felt honored, supported and confident as leaders of their families and used their powerful voices to shape policies?

Photo of Sandra Gutierrez
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors (AP) was launched in 2007 to address the "opportunity gap" that prevents many Latino children from succeeding in school and beyond. AP has honored and supported the deep aspirations and efforts of Latino parents to overcome this challenge by delivering an effective, popular and well-respected curriculum that addresses school readiness, parent engagement and leadership-- all known to be significant factors in children's wellbeing. AP was designed by FIRST LISTENING to parents to ensure the curriculum addresses their concerns, questions and hopes. Along with best practices in child development and literacy, the social-emotional wellbeing of children and parents is addressed through engaging role plays and by creating a safe and welcoming environment for sharing and reflection. Parents embraced the curriculum as theirs and share they appreciate each 2-hr AP session is filled with activities they can use each and every day to nurture their child's optimal development. Because it is strength based, honors the life experiences of participants and is fun and engaging, the program enjoys great word of mouth from parents and community partners alike. Through our national network, AP maintains an active feedback loop with the program's primary stakeholders and consistently involves them in advocacy on matters of mutual interest such as ESSA, immigrant rights, Dual Language Learners and access to early education and health services.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Hispanic, Latinx, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian)

Website

www.ap-od.org

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Los Angeles

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Los Angeles, CA, Fresno, CA, Fowler, CA, Merced, CA, Oakland, CA, Pescadero, CA, Salinas, CA, San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, Santa Rosa, CA Denver, CO, Stamford, CT, Phoenix, AZ, Tucson, AZ, Yuma, AZ, Raleigh, NC, Paterson, NJ, Albuquerque, NM, Chicago, IL, Plant City, FL, Medford, OR, Salem, OR, Reading, PA, Knoxville, TN, New Caney, TX, Tulsa, OK (partial list)

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Approximately 40% of Latino children do not attend preschool or early education often starting kindergarten behind their peers. AP seeks to reduce the opportunity gaps for young low-income Latino children by giving their parents the tools to understand how best they can impact their child's optimal development. Parents, as leaders of their families, are powerful agents of change at home and in their community.

Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors (AP) is the nation's first evidence-based parent leadership training program designed by and for Latino parents with children ages 0-5. Our two-generation approach builds parent leadership skills and knowledge to promote family wellbeing and positive outcomes for children.

Since its inception in 2007, AP has trained over 1,500 facilitators in more than 400 family-serving organizations and has provided its curriculum to over 80,000 parents/families in more than 300 cities across the country. Two independent evaluations underscore the positive impact of the AP program. A 2012 UC Berkeley study found that parents made significant gains in their knowledge about early childhood development, language and literacy, school preparation, and confidence in parenting and advocacy skills. In 2014, Child Trends released the report of a random control study of AP. The results confirm that participating parents demonstrated significant growth in parenting practices that promote school readiness.

At Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, we honor parents’ strengths. Parents are among our country's unsung heroes. They shoulder the most important responsibility of all—raising our beloved country’s future generations. The parenting journey is rewarding, often challenging, and lasts a lifetime. We believe parents as leaders of their families are powerful agents of change in the lives of their children as well as their community. We believe that the “achievement gap” is more aptly termed an “opportunity gap” because it stems from unequal access to critical opportunities that are essential for healthy early childhood development and community well-being.

To that end, AP provides families with information, resources and activities they can use on a daily basis to support their children’s healthy development and quality education. The bi-lingual AP curriculum relies on parent input and “popular education” to take the research off the shelf and make it accessible to parents. The ten sessions emphasize interactive learning and incorporate familiar sayings, music and activities into a warm and welcoming learning experience. The curriculum promotes parent leadership, engagement and advocacy by building parenting knowledge and skills, school engagement practices, and community activism by parents on behalf of their children and families. Parents gain an understanding of child brain development, key aspects of early childhood development, bilingualism, attendance, socio-emotional development, and healthy eating and exercise. They receive vital information about the different types of schools in their communities. The program also provides parents with critical data on the education, economic and health status of children and adults in their communities, and how they can change that trajectory for their own children. Armed with new knowledge and local data, parents become advocates for their children and strong voices on behalf of children and families in their communities.  


Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded

2007

Project Stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages, and the next step will be growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

AP uses a train-the –trainer model that certifies community-based facilitators to deliver the program to parents, caregivers and partner organizations in their local communities. TOT agendas are customized to include local data and partner input. The curriculum, in English and Spanish, incorporates popular education methodology to engage participants in interactive sessions. The curriculum promotes school readiness, family wellbeing, and advocacy by addressing best practices in key aspects of early childhood development (cognitive, language, physical, and social/emotional), brain development, early literacy, early math, bilingualism, health, attendance, civic engagement, parent leadership, goal setting, and planning for family success.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

- Approximately 12,000 families received support and information on best practices in brain development, language development, bilingualism, early literacy, early math, health and social emotional wellness, attendance, advocacy, civic engagement, parent leadership, goal setting and planning for family success.
- Independent evaluations report positive results
- Certification of over 450 new AP facilitators throughout the United States
- The White House Initiative on Hispanic Education designated Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors as a “Bright Spot” and recognized for Commitment to Action.
- Contributed to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Closing the Opportunity Gap 2016 report
- AP has contributed to and hosted webinars, publications and conferences that have contributed to equity in the fields of early education, bilingual education, immigrant rights, civic and family engagement

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $1mil - $5mil

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

AP receives funding from a variety of private foundations to support our work and facilitator training institutes. We will continue to develop and expand our philanthropic partnerships, while also exploring opportunities to increase our fee for service revenues. We are also researching federal grant options in conjunction with our research and other partners.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

AP was created with parent input and reflects their concerns, questions and culture. AP receives feedback and recommendations from parents and facilitators that contribute to updating and strengthening the bilingual curriculum. The program also provides parents with critical data on the education, economic and health status of children and adults in their communities, and how they can change that trajectory for their own children. Armed with new knowledge and local data, parents become advocates for their children and strong voices on behalf of children and families in their communities.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Among many new important developments, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education recently issued a joint guidance on the rights and responsibilities of dual-language learners (DLL) and limited English speaking parents in public school systems. Equally important is the right of parents with limited English to full information about all academic opportunities and resources for their children. This new and historic developments provide AP with an opportunity to further support families with information vital to their children’s success.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

Bernadette Sangalang, Program Officer, Packard Foundation

Program Design Clarity

AP was designed and created with Latino parents with kids 0-5 – It reflects their voices and their concerns. The ten-session bilingual curriculum is made available to partners through a cost-effective 3-day AP Train-The–Trainers Institute. After the institute, participants are certified to deliver the program in their local communities, as well as to train other community partners to implement AP. The 3-day AP Institute covers, AP content, creating a welcoming environment, popular education methodology and facilitation techniques. We average 15 institutes per year throughout the United States.

Community Leadership

Collaboration and partnership are at the heart and soul of AP. AP compliments existing efforts engaged in promoting equity. Many parents who participated in AP, are active in local advocacy efforts on access to early education and health care. Critical feedback is key to the program’s evolution. We routinely conduct focus groups and listening sessions as well as pre and post surveys. 95% of participants rate the TOT as excellent!

Age of Children Impacted

  • Pregnancy - 0
  • 0-1.5
  • 1.5 -3
  • 3 - 5

Spread Strategies

With a proven track record of evidence-based practices and successful collaborations with parents and a broad variety of public agencies, AP is well positioned to expand these relationships and become an integral part of existing community and statewide initiatives. AP staff consistently contributes to national dialogues on immigrant rights, family engagement, access to early education and health services and the rights of English Learners - DLL.

Reflect on how your work helps children to thrive. How are you cultivating children’s sense of self, belonging, and purpose through your model?

Parenting is personal – thus it is cultural. Using cultural references and popular education, AP’s strength-based two-generation approach honors and supports parents and provides opportunities to meet the needs of parents and their children together. Each session offers parents information and activities proven to make a difference in a child’s optimal development, connects parents to services and provides parent proven useful advocacy tips.

Leadership Story

I bring with me my and my family’s struggles as immigrants in the US. We frequently hear about the “achievement gap” between Latino and non-Latino children. I believe “opportunity gap” is a more honest term, because it identifies the root of the gap as systemic and circumstantial, rather than a failure on the part of the child. I strongly believe in the “dicho” – If you don’t look forward, you stay behind.

What awards or honors has the project received? (Optional)

2012 Champions for Children Award
2014 White House Cesar E. Chavez Champion of Change
2015 James Irvine Leadership Award
2015 White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics “Bright Spot”
2015 White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics Commitment to Action

Organization’s Facebook Page (URL)

https://www.facebook.com/sandra.gutierrez.796569

Leader's LinkedIn Profile (URL)

www.linkedin.com/in/sandra-gutierrez-976a2013

Attachments (1)

Abriendo Puertas Opening Doors to Opportunity-A National Evaluation of S....pdf

Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors National Evaluation

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Photo of Christy Beighe-Byrne
Team

AP is an agency that seeks to close the education gap that exists for first generation Americans. The program is serving many families in need and its bringing the challenge of youth who are struggling in school as a result of missed opportunities (such as Headstart, ESL classes, etc..) to the forefront of people's minds. Good luck!

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