It takes this village |

It takes this village

Frank Gerdeman
Tribune Guest Opinion

Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” He also said, “Great people are those who make others feel that they, too, can become great.”

Those two quotes illustrate the challenge, and the opportunity, that exist in South Lake Tahoe.

Walk into almost any local business and you’ll hear that they struggle to find, retain and promote quality employees. Talk to any number of local residents and you’ll hear that gaining the skills necessary for wage advancement and life improvement is difficult at best, and how and where to begin are not necessarily clear. There are services and programs to help, but they have historically been isolated in approach in advancing the goals of individuals, industry and the community.

Six months ago I moved from New England to the Tahoe Basin to become part of a community-wide network to assist those who are trying to get started, to help others feel that they can, and will, succeed. Collectively known as ADVANCE, this network is a partnership of agencies, community organizations, school districts, and local businesses in California and Nevada. Based at Lake Tahoe Community College, but offering services throughout the community, ADVANCE is designed to create accessible, integrated pathways for adults seeking to improve their educational, career and civic opportunities.

ADVANCE spent the first year building capacity, establishing and strengthening relationships, and piloting a few critical, initial services in South Lake Tahoe and Alpine County. As the network moves into the second year of operation, the focus is shifting to enrollment and participation in programs and services. A range of no or low-cost activities; short-term, but intensive “boot-camp” academies in the hospitality sector, expanded options for earning a high school credential, structured and supported pathways that allow for gaining, retaining and improving employment services, is being developed and implemented. I am excited and encouraged by the commitment, energy and potential in this community and over the next six to twelve months, you’ll be hearing a lot more about ADVANCE, our programs, our partners, our participants and their successes.

If you would like to join us in our work, please feel free to contact me directly. More importantly, if you, or someone you know, is looking to advance their career, their education, or within the community, contact Alexis Foley,, 530-541-4660, ext.192, to schedule a planning session. Isn’t it your time to get ahead?

Frank Gerdeman is the director of ADVANCE, an emerging adult education program housed at Lake Tahoe Community College. Email him at

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