Advance Opportunities has been providing quality vocational training, socialization and employment opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1963.
- The Lyon County Developmental Achievement Center (DAC) opens its doors in Ghent, Minnesota with 3 clients and 2 staff, providing post-secondary education services for individuals with developmental disabilities.
1970’s & 1980’s
- Program operates in the Holy Redeemer School in response to programmatic growth. The agency utilized 3 classroom settings within the school.
- During the years in the Holy Redeemer school, agency staff, known as teachers at that time, taught students reading, writing, math, social skills, checkbook balancing, etc.
- At this time in history, Developmental Achievement Centers (DAC) offered ongoing educational programs in which young adults with developmental disabilities continued with their education post high school.
- During the late 1980’s, the agency began to shift focus from a school setting into a work opportunity program. The first work program that we started was a furniture refinishing service that flourished.
- Purchased and remodeled building located at 1701 East College Drive (old Pamida building) in Marshall, Minnesota to expand services to more individuals.
- The State of Minnesota began to emphasize that agencies providing day services to adults with developmental disabilities should shift from a school to a work focus.
- Advance began to network with local businesses and provide hotel and office cleaning services in addition to developing the furniture refinishing business.
- Job coaches and work crews continued to provide cleaning services on site at many business locations. Businesses also began to contract with our agency to have collating, assembly and other work services provided in-house on our production floor.
- Some of the earlier contracted work included taking apart VCR tapes and folding cardboard corners for Norcraft.
- Built new construction at 1401 Peterson Street (behind Hardee’s) in Marshall, Minnesota that is community inclusive and boasts a car wash and large work areas for assembly, shredding, document imaging and more.
- The legal corporate name is changed to Advance Opportunities to reflect the agency’s mission.
- Launched Wear It’s At, a social enterprise retail venture which sells gently used clothing. This venture helped create community employment for employees with disabilities in the retail sector.
- Awarded a $170,000 Otto Bremer Foundation grant to build a 2,400 square foot building addition.
- 25 additional service slots become available to expand job opportunities for the disability community.
- Begin manufacturing custom jewelry, watches, headbands, flip flops, and related products that generated $10,000 in sales the second year.
- Project SEARCH, an International transitional high school program, was launched in formal partnership with the SW/WC Service Cooperative, Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center, and many additional partners.
- Celebrated 50 years of service providing employment and vocational training for the disability community.
- Fully integrated, competitive employment becomes a large focus nationwide.
- Partnership was started with Mid Continent Cabinetry in Cottonwood, Minnesota, with competitive employment for more than 20 employees with disabilities.
- Car seat recycling launched at our facility with plans to grow state-wide in the future.
- Mattress recycling began in partnership with Lyon County Environmental Department to keep bulky materials out of the local landfill and have them recycled. Processing takes place at 500 Fairgrounds Road in Marshall, MN in the old hockey arena.
- An individual served with a passion for working with technology led to the launch of ResQ Zone. The mission of the organization is to empower children and adults by providing them with technology in their homes. Computers, monitors and accessories are donated by area businesses and individuals and then data sanitized and refurbished before distribution. Proud partners: Lyon County Environmental Department and Advance Opportunities.
- Advance Opportunities celebrates 55 years as a non-profit organization in Marshall serving over 90 individuals with disabilities.
- Advance was temporarily closed by MN Department of Human Services due to the Covid-19 pandemic. From March 2020 – June 2020, Advance provided very limited services to continue to support individuals who worked in essential worker positions in the community.
- Through the rest of 2020 and all of 2021, Advance focused on rebuilding and redesigning the programs and services offered to support as many individuals as possible.
- This was another pivotal moment for the organization with the national push to end commensurate wages paid to individuals with disabilities. To meet the new requirements, Advance again turned to focus more on employment skills education and training. The agency also began creating a more robust life enrichment program to provide more individualized life skills training, socialization, and community outings.
- By 2022, Advance had successfully returned to providing services for more than 60 individuals with disabilities.