Stepping Up Our Service

It was magical. Our Winner Wonderland $16k campaign was complete, bringing to a close a phenomenal year that saw The ACE Project grow in so many important ways. Our team reflected back on what your support meant to the kids, families, and communities we serve, and it became clear what the outpouring of generosity in December meant: you believe in ACE! You see the value of our programs and want us to increase our impact. Well, 2019 is underway, and thanks to your donations, we will be able to launch our comprehensive program at 3 schools! But, what does that mean for ACE and those who benefit from our services?

For The ACE Project’s tennis-only program, we use a curriculum that our co-founder, Leah Friedman, wrote at our inception. In addition to learning tennis fundamentals, our ACE-ers also learn essential life skills: listening, cooperation, respect, patience, gratitude, humility, resilience, and responsibility. Each skill is explored through role-play and discussion then reinforced during practice. This Spring, our tennis-only program will be serving students (Kindergarten-5th grade) at Calvin Rodwell and Mary Rodman Elementary Schools in Baltimore, and Roosevelt Elementary School in Dolton.

As our tennis-only program gained popularity, our co-founder and executive director, Susan Klumpner began researching models and strategies that contribute to positive psychological, behavioral, and social characteristics in youth. She found that consistent, comprehensive after-school programs guide youth on their path toward reaching the “Five Cs” of positive youth development: competence, connection, caring, character, and compassion. This is where kids thrive! To nurture these characteristics and best prepare our ACE-ers for the future, our comprehensive program includes: goal setting, group discussions, homework assistance, journaling, positive reinforcement, snack time, adult and peer-to-peer mentorship, and daily rotations

Daily rotations are the core of this program. Our ACE-ers choose between academic enrichment, athletic development, or social-emotional skill-building 3 days per week; they must participate in all 3 areas each week. We use evidence-based curriculum guides to inform our rotations, working specifically to improve our ACE-ers’ math and reading scores, resilience, and prosocial behavior. The comprehensive program was first launched in 2015 at Washington Elementary School in Riverdale; this Spring, Lincoln Elementary students in Dolton and Pitts-Ashburton Elementary students in Baltimore will also benefit from this expanded program.

It is our goal to bring the comprehensive model to every school we partner with in order to connect more students to all the services and resources that ACE provides thanks to you, our supporters. To think that many of these schools had no after-school programs prior to our work together…within 6 years, you have helped us step up significantly to serve even more ACEs. We can’t wait to share how our kids progress on and off the court