In order to ACE, we must serve. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, a little less than half of Latino, African American, and Native American students will not graduate high school on time, compared to approximately 17% of Asian American and 22% of White students nationally. Additionally, students who are both ethnic minorities and live in poverty oftentimes attend schools that are low-achieving, contributing to an even greater disparity. Throughout the country, young leaders aren’t able to develop their authentic voice, prospective community activists aren’t able to confidently mobilize a neighborhood, and future social workers aren’t able to implement programs that help break the cycle; the need is obvious, but is there a way to address it? 

Fortunately, there is: after-school programs. Research shows that youth participating in comprehensive positive youth development programs demonstrate increased positive development including better school performance, more pro-social behavior, enhanced life satisfaction and/or a reduction of negative outcomes in these same areas such as less peer rejection, school failure, aggression, or drug use. We can empower students by giving them opportunities to express themselves in a structured setting outside the classroom, but a problem still remains: under-resourced communities do not have the ability to sustain effective comprehensive programs. Afterschool Alliance reports that 19.4 million families would choose after-school programs if they were available within their school district. If there is one lesson to be learned from extracurricular activities, it is that we can only succeed by working together. 

The ACE Project offers free after-school programs to address this need for underserved communities in Chicago, Baltimore, and Detroit. Approximately 300 students attending under-performing elementary schools participate each year between the three cities, and we recruit coaches and mentors from the school community to enhance local trust and leadership. To boost connection, caring/compassion, character, confidence, and competence in youth, we provide the following opportunities within school, after-school, or summer camp settings:

  • Junior Tennis Camps

  • Life Skills Curriculum

  • Academic Enrichment

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Our goal is to strengthen positive youth development as well as reduce risky behaviors by cultivating key assets through a strength-based model that focuses on improving skills, competencies, and expanding possibilities. If The ACE Project interests you, please check out our program events , volunteer information, or contact us for more information. Let's serve an ACE together!