Project Advance in San Antonio

St. Philip's College, an inner-city public community college in San Antonio has created Project Advance to increase the number of Head Start and Early Head Start teachers with bachelor's degrees in reading and early childhood education. The Head Start community will learn from this case study how Project Advance recruits, retains, and trains teachers for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Early Childhood Studies.

The following is an excerpt from...
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by Martha L. Trevino

Established in 1898 by an Episcopalian bishop, the son of a former slave owner, St. Philip's College began as a vocational school for the daughters of former slaves. In 1902, Artemisia Bowden, the daughter of a former slave, became the school's chief administrator and primary teacher and for the next 52 years, devoted herself to strengthening the institutions. Today, St. Philip's is an inner-city, public community college with a student population of 11,000 students per semester; approximately 70 percent are minorities. Its unique role continues. It is the only postsecondary educational institution in the nation designated by the U.S. Department of Education as both a Historically Black College (1987) and a Hispanic-Serving Institution (1992), and continues its tradition of serving the historically underserved.

Two-plus-Two Articulation Agreement

In the fall of 2005, St. Philip's College Early Childhood Education Program received a five-year U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Head Start grant to collaborate with Parent/Child Incorporated and the University of Texas at San Antonio to increase the number of Head Start teachers with bachelor's degrees. Parent/Child Incorporated is the City of San Antonio's largest Head Start delegate, employing 436 teachers and serving approximately 7,000 children. Since only 22 percent of Parent/Child Incorporated teachers had a bachelor's degree—and the 2003 School Readiness Act requires 50 percent of Head Start teachers to have bachelors degrees by 2008—Parent/Child Incorporated and St. Philip's College agreed to cooperate. Now Parent/Child Incorporated teachers have the opportunity to obtain their bachelor's degree. The University of Texas at San Antonio agreed to join this effort and provide Parent/Child Incorporated Associate degree graduates from St. Philip's College the upper division courses needed for graduation through a "Two-plus-two Articulation Agreement."

St. Philip's College has implemented Project Advance to increase the number of Head Start/Early Head Start teachers with bachelor's degrees in reading and early childhood education. Through Project Advance, Parent/Child Incorporated Head Start/Early Head Start teachers are recruited and retained to complete their coursework for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Early Childhood Studies at St. Philip’s College. After taking 48 hours of coursework, they are guided to transfer to and graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio, where they take 62 hours of coursework and earn the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science in Language and Literacy with an emphasis in Reading and Early Childhood Education.

During the first year of Project Advance, 17 (89.5 percent of the targeted 19) Parent/Child Incorporated teachers participated in the project: 15 teachers enrolled at St. Philip's College and two enrolled at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Currently eight teachers enrolled at St. Philip's College are expected to graduate in 2007 with an AA degree, and will transfer to the University of Texas at San Antonio. This will bring the number of teachers working on bachelor’s degrees to 10 by the fall of 2007. Efforts to recruit and retain teachers in the project will continue in an effort to exceed the expectations originally established for Project Advance.

Innovative Features of the Project

The following numerous features of the Project Advance model are innovative and foster its effectiveness and cost-efficiency:

  • First, teachers applying to participate in the project must already have 18 college credits, which demonstrates ability and commitment to pursue a bachelor's degree.
  • Second, courses at St. Philip's College are offered in the evenings, during the summer, and some are offered online, providing teachers the flexibility to work around their busy work schedules.
  • Third, the transfer offices and faculty at both St. Philip's College and the University of Texas at San Antonio work closely to ensure that teachers receive the guidance they need to ensure a smooth transfer from the community college to the university, and that only the required courses are taken.

Finally, cost-efficiency is maximized through the community college/university partnership; because community college tuition is generally 40 percent less expensive than tuition at a university, grant dollars are better utilized and more teachers are served. St. Philip's College is committed to serving the underserved by providing students a quality educational environment which stimulates leadership, personal growth and a lifelong appreciation for learning. By creating an effective and efficient educational pipeline for Head Start teachers, St. Philip's College continues its 108-year tradition of serving the underserved by supporting Head Start in its mission to help low-income children start school academically and socially prepared.


U.S. Department of Education. 2006. Accredited Postsecondary Minority Institutions. Washington, D.C.: Available at

Boehner, J. 2003. News from the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Farrell, E. 2005. Public Colleges Tame Costs of Tuition. Chronicle of Higher Education.

Martha L. Trevino, Ph.D., was the Coordinator of Resource Development and Research for St. Philip’s College, San Antonio, TX.

"Higher Education Grantees; Strategies to Support Head Star Staff." Trevino, Martha L. Ph.D. Professional Development.  Head Start Bulletin #79. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2007. English.

Last Reviewed: June 2014

Last Updated: March 23, 2016