Adelante History


Adelante is officially founded as a nonprofit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on February 23, 1978, by a group of parents who were focused on the ideas of independence, rights, choice, and respect for people with disabilities. At that point in history, society saw a person’s disabilities in rehabilitation terms only, thus often failing to pay attention to an individual’s capabilities or interests. In February 1978, the organization was named La Familia, but before services actually started in November 1978, the name changed to The Teaching Home. At that time the organization offered educational and vocational training in a home environment for six men with autism who lived in the home where they received services. The initial budget was $64,000 a year.


Camino Real opened on January 1, 1980 in Belen, New Mexico. It was an agency that had a similar philosophy and offered services for people with disabilities. It later became part of Adelante. In July 1980, the Teaching Home program supported 20 people with disabilities.


The name changed in April 1981 to better reflect the agency’s purpose. Adelante, which means ‘forward’ in Spanish, was chosen because it reflected our vision of helping people with disabilities to make progress in their lives and to work toward their personal goals. The two emerging agencies, Adelante and Camino Real, began to share support staff and a CEO. Also in 1981, Adelante began to focus more on day services and vocational training, and transferred the residential services to ARCA, another disability provider specializing in housing.


Adelante Industries start their first big contract on August 1, 1982, opening the first of many social enterprises at the agency. We offered services for local businesses in an effort to employ people with disabilities. Also in August 1982, Adelante is accredited by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitative Facilities) for the first time.


The Camino Real Thrift Shop opens in Belen. Today, the shop is known as Bargain Square Thrift Store.


Adelante receives funding from United Way allowing us to support people with more severe disabilities – including medically fragile individuals. We officially become a United Way agency and are thankful for their support for many years.

The Camino Real group home opens.

Adelante Industries begin packaging and shrink wrapping services.


Specialized Behavior Management Services begin.


Adelante & Camino Real merge.


Supported Employment Services begins and the first job placement occurred in September 1987. Today the program is called EmployAbility.

Bargain Square Thrift Store opens a new site.


CaseLink, a computerized client management system, is developed and goes into operation. Today the service is web-based, allowing staff all over the state can access it through a secure site online.

For the first time, Adelante Industries earns over $100,000 in revenues in one year.


Adelante expands rapidly as the Jackson lawsuit against the state of New Mexico releases people with disabilities from institutions and into their communities.

In December 1992, Adelante TechWorks sponsored an Assistive Technology Expo at the Albuquerque Convention Center.


112 people with disabilities are working in Adelante Industries; 32 people are working in supervised work crews; and 46 people are working at job placements in the community as part of Adelante Employment Services


Adelante is the first New Mexico provider accredited in the outcomes process by the Accreditation Council on Services for People with Disabilities. The agency is one of only seven in the country that earned a 3-year status on the first try.


Adelante receives the National Award of Excellence by the Accreditation Council on Services for People with Disabilities. Only one award is given per year.


The Community Options program begins in Valencia County and triples in size.


The last state-run institution closes in New Mexico. Adelante is selected by a quarter of the people leaving the State system and entering their communities.

Adelante Industries handled 1,625 contracts with over 250 companies and the agency receives the Quality New Mexico Piñon Award for commitment to quality principles.


Adelante Janitorial Services cleans 52 buildings on Kirtland AFB and employs 45 workers. This is the agency’s first major NISH contract.


Adelante Supported Employment found jobs in the community for 66 people.

Senior Services receives funding from the Albuquerque Community Foundation.

A Community Development Block Grant funds construction and major upgrades at Bargain Square, creating 20 new jobs.

Adelante Mailing Services has its grand opening at the facility on Carlisle.


Four supported homes are added to the agency’s Community Living Program.

Adelante is the American Marketing Association’s Nonprofit Marketer of the Year.


Adelante Desert Harvest begins rescuing food from local restaurants and grocers in an effort to provide volunteer options for people with disabilities and to help New Mexico battle one of its more persistent social issues, hunger. During the year, the program collected about 5,000 pounds of food per month.


Community Options Program expands to Rio Rancho. Adelante is approved to be a Medicaid Personal Care Option Provider and launches the program the following spring.


Adelante is among the very first nonprofits in the United States to be recognized for compliance to ISO 9001:2000, an international quality standards program.

Adelante Document Destruction Services opens.


Staff members move to new main location, El Centro, on Osuna Boulevard in Albuquerque. El Centro houses the supported employment, community living, nursing, fundraising, human resources, facilities, marketing, and the finance departments of the agency.

In July 2005, Adelante takes over the dormitory services contract at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).

The agency expanded to include Los Lunas in 2005, including a new Bargain Square Thrift Store location and Los Lunas Community Options, which opened in August and September, respectively.


Adelante begins operation of Creative Hands, a day habilitation program in Taylor Ranch, and adopts four new homes into our Community Living program in Albuquerque. These transitions were a result of ResCare, a for profit organization, ending operations in New Mexico.


Adelante begins offering art as a full-time program. Adelante’s Arts & Animals offers a unique combination of fine art and animal-related programming at the same site, providing therapeutic benefits for people with disabilities.


Adelante celebrates 30 years as a nonprofit agency supporting people with disabilities with an open house at the San Mateo site in Albuquerque. At the event, the site was dedicated to a long-term employee and renamed the Al Friedman Center.

Adelante Document Destruction celebrates its fifth year in business. During this time, the social enterprise has over 900 customers and employs 43 people with disabilities.


Adelante Document Imaging begins as the agency’s newest social enterprise, offering scanning services to local businesses and governmental entities.

The Albuquerque Aktion Club, a social service club for people with disabilities, forms in conjunction with the Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque.

Bargain Square Los Lunas becomes the first of Adelante’s thrift stores to surpass $30,000 in sales in one month during September 2009.


Adelante begins managing the Back in Use program for the state and collects and recycles assistive devices for seniors and people with disabilities who otherwise may not have been able to afford them.

Bargain Square wins the American Marketing Association Award for print advertising and Maria Cordova, an Adelante employee, wins a national ANCOR award as the Direct Support Professional of the Year.

The senior program expands to a new site and becomes Adelante Compadres Senior Center.


Adelante opens a new Community Living home in Albuquerque. Bargain Square Los Lunas becomes the first of Adelante’s thrift stores to exceed $40,000 in sales in one month during October 2011.


Adelante opens a new Community Living home in Albuquerque. The Secure Document Center opens on First Street, combining Adelante Document Destruction and Adelante Document Imaging into one high security site.


On February 27, 2013 Adelante celebrated its 35th anniversary. Employees and clients around the agency celebrated by wearing Adelante red and signing a large ’35’ to commemorate this milestone.

Adelante held a community appreciation event and donation drive on June 21, 2013 in Belen near Adelante’s Bargain Square store. Adelante recognized several exceptional community members in appreciation for their support after the Belen Bargain Square store caught fire at the end of May. Thank you to everyone who continues to support Adelante and our mission to help people with disabilities acheive their goals!

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) was created to increase awareness about employment for people with disabilities. In October, Adelante recognizes companies throughout our community that have made an exceptional impact on employment for the individuals we support. That might mean hiring a person with a disability or being a customer of Adelante Enterprises. We appreciate everything you do!


Adelante hosts a dinner/dance fundraiser called “Baile, Baile, and Rebuild” to help rebuild and re-stock the Belen Bargain Square Thrift Store on February 1, 2014 at the Moose Lodge in Belen.

On February 28, 2014, Adelante’s Benefits Connection Center officially began connecting low income seniors and people with disabilities to government benefits programs such as SNAP, LIHEAP, Medicare Part D, and Medicaid. The BCC opened thanks to a grant from the National Council on Aging.

Adelante began operating Senior Meals Services of Dona Ana County in April 2014.

Adelante began operational support of the Storehouse, New Mexico’s Largest Food Pantry.


On January 30, 2015, Adelante’s Mailing Services and Assembly Services and Packaging co-located in a larger, newer facility to better serve customers and open up opportunities for future growth. The new enterprise is called Adelante Mailing and Fulfillment Center.

On July 17, 2015 Adelante celebrated the Grand Re-Opening of the Bargain Square Thrift Store in Belen.

Adelante Community Options participants volunteered a combined total of over 13,000 hours this year.

Adelante receives Albuquerque Business First’s 2015 Non-Profit of the Year Human Services Award.


Thanks to the BUILD Health grant, the Wellness Referral Center works to connect the gap between the doctor and patient to help patients manage chronic disease. It is also a recipient of the Great Grant Giveaway event organized by the Albuquerque Community Foundation.

Adelante Bulk Printing and Mailing opens. It is an extension of Mailing and Fulfillment Center located at the facility on Carlisle.


The first Project SEARCH class graduates in May. The Presbyterian Rust Medical Center Project SEARCH program is 36 weeks long and provides skills, training, and workplace internships for high school students ages 18–22 with disabilities. Students complete certification training and three different rotations in areas such as food and nutrition, patient transport, and administration and security.

Adelante begins managing New Mexico AIDS Services.


On February 23, 2018, Adelante celebrate 40 years of supporting the community by taking a group photo outside of the main office.

In August, Adelante Development Center launched GiveABQ to impact other nonprofits and strengthen the entire community. GiveABQ takes in donations and distributes them to multiple nonprofits in New Mexico. We provide a single location where donors can drop off donations and where nonprofits can select and get items they need for their organization or their clients. GiveABQ received its initial support from the PNM Foundation’s Century Grant.

Adelante begins construction on its first Senior Assisted Living home.

Adelante Back in Use splits into two programs in January 2018. The first is still called Back in Use and is co-located at GiveABQ. This program refurbishes donated durable medical equipment and gives it to people with disabilities in need. The second is called DiverseIT. This program refurbishes donated laptops and desktops and gives them to local nonprofits and people with disabilities.


On February 1, 2019, GiveABQ’s Grand Opening was held at the warehouse located at 1520 1st Street. At the launch event over 20 nonprofits were taking part, and every television station in town and Mayor Tim Keller attended. By the end of 2019, 77 nonprofits were taking part.

DiverseIT expands to a new storefront at our San Mateo site. Service offerings now include group training. The official grand opening of the DiverseIT Computer Repair & Training Center was October 16, 2019.

Adelante earns a Silver Level recognition Family Friendly New Mexico for the benefits we offer and the family friendly work place we offer our team members. 

Adelante begins operation on its first Senior Assisted Living home near Candelaria and Carlisle in Albuquerque. It’s called Adelante Ventana and it is a residence that can accommodate up to 8 people. Adelante Serena (located near Montgomery and Eubank), a second senior assisted living home, is in the licensing process.

Adelante takes part for the first time in the statewide effort of  KOATs for Kids in partnership with KOAT Channel 7 News and Nusenda Credit Union. Adelante handled the website, requests, managed the calls, warehoused, and distributed coats to children in need. Approximately 10,000 children were helped, from the new coats we gave away to the used coats we gave to Albuquerque Public Schools and Locker 505 Clothing Bank. 


Adelante is recognized at the 2020 Ethics in Business Awards in April, winning the Hopkins Award for Excellence in Ethical Practice by a Large-Sized Non-Profit.

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center won the Customer/Federal Civilian Award at the SourceAmerica National Conference in April 2020. Adelante nominated the FLETC for their support of the Adelante; their contract employs people with disabilities at the FLETC site in Artesia, NM. 

Adelante earns a Gold Level recognition Family Friendly New Mexico for the benefits we offer and the family friendly work place we offer our team members.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Adelante day programs and some of our work sites for people with disabilities were closed by the New Mexico Department of Health. Over the course of the year, we began offering online day programs, and some people with disabilities were able to return to work. 

July 2020, Adelante Bargain Square reopens at 19554 Hwy 314 between Belen and Los Lunas. The thrift store was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and had to move from Los Lunas because the lease was taken over by another company. Adelante purchased a former Sears retail site and refurbished it to make it a nice place to work and shop. Multiple day programs and our work sites were also closed in Spring 2020 due to the pandemic. 


Adelante wins the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit Organization of the Year at an event held in October, which is Hispanic Heritage Month.

Adelante earns a Gold Level recognition Family Friendly New Mexico for the benefits we offer and the family friendly work place we offer our team members.

April 1, 2021 Mike Kivitz ended his career as the leader of Adelante. He was hired on April 1, 1979 and thought this was a good bookend to his life’s work at our organization, retiring the same day 42 years later. During his tenure, the organization grew from supporting just 6 people to having a positive impact on as many as 80,000 people a year. Following the organization’s succession plan, Rebecca Sanford, Adelante’s Chief Administrative Officer, was promoted to President/CEO. She had already served 9 years with the organization, beginning as VP of Human Resources and slowly taking on more and more departments, in anticipation of Mike’s retirement.

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