We believe Tennis has the ability to empower children, families, and communities.
In the fall and spring, The ACE Project engages students (K-5) attending local elementary schools in a 6-week tennis camp. In addition to learning tennis fundamentals through fun activities and skill-building games, our ACE-ers also learn and practice the following life skills: listening, cooperation, respect, patience, gratitude, humility, resilience, and responsibility. These skills are learned through role-play and discussion then are reinforced during practice. A majority of our ACE-ers have never picked up a tennis racket before; still, their determination and joy in learning something new gets their feet and minds moving in a new direction.
In 2018, we launched Serve and Connect, a community engagement project that brings local police officers into Chicago, Baltimore, and Detroit schools to help teach the value of academic accomplishment, living healthy lifestyles, and how to set and achieve goals while simultaneously learning tennis fundamentals. It is a unique experience that strengthens the bonds and trust between the kids, the officers, and the community adults who serve as coaches.
During the summer months, The ACE Project partners with park districts, youth program organizations, and event organizers to provide youth with specialized opportunities to learn more about tennis, whether these lessons are taught in a camp setting, at a community play day, on a field trip to a professional tournament, or by participating in a skill-based tournament.
Tennis is the key to our program model, as it helps us recruit, engage, and retain youth, build confidence, competency, and other life-skills associated with positive youth development, and establish a community of supporters as coaches and mentors.