Mary Catherine Swanson


Grade Level: 9-12

"The perpetuation of democracy and the long-term success of our nation hinges on building an education system that accommodates and prepares all students. AVID calls upon our educators to perform miracles against all odds; through our efforts together, our students become trailblazers of hope, courage, and excellence."
Mary Catherine Swanson founded Advancement Via Individual Determination — nationally known as AVID— a school-wide program that prepares the least served students for college eligibility and success by raising rigorous standards and providing support. Since 1980, Swanson's system has been improving school-wide standardized test scores, encouraging challenging course selection, and increasing the number of students accepted to college. The program places students in honors, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate courses, then provides them the support tools to succeed.
Most AVID students are underrepresented minorities – African Americans and Latinos. Since 1990, more than 30,000 AVID students have graduated from high school and gone on to college. Nearly 95% of AVID students enroll in college (77% in four-year institutions and 17% in community colleges), compared to the national average for four-year college enrollment of 35%. Swanson credits the support AVID students receive, the commitment to success they feel, the inspirational teachers they encounter, and the self-determination they exercise for making them persevere despite considerable challenges.


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