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Achieving a College Education (ACE)

March 13, 2018 Stella Torres

About the ACE Program

Student success starts early. That is why in 1987, the Achieving a College Education (ACE) Program was established at South Mountain Community College to motivate underrepresented students to graduate high school and continue on to complete a college degree. ACE was designed to smooth the transition between high school, community college, and university. Today, the program has grown to include all 10 Maricopa Community Colleges and includes an Adult ACE Program at Rio Salado Community College, which is a scholarship based college-to-career preparation program for students enrolled in the GED or high level English Language Acquisition for Adults Program.

The Numbers Speak for Themselves

One of the keys to the ACE Program’s success is the ability to retain students through frequent contact and program structure. Looking back 20 years on average, 82 percent of students have been retained in the Program. And in the past five years, approximately 85 percent of students have been retained. Approximately 58 percent of the students ACE serves identify as Latino.

ACE continues to meet its three goals: students are graduating from high school, they are continuing on to college, and they are earning their degrees/certificates. Since its inception, more than 15,500 students have completed the ACE Program and over 3,400 ACE students have earned one or more postsecondary certificate or degree (more than 6,000 degrees total). Additionally, more than 80.7 percent of ACE Alumni have gone on to college, while 65 percent have either completed a degree or certificate, or are still enrolled in a secondary institution (not including private or out-of-state institutions).

How ACE Supports Latino Students

The Hispanic Women’s Corporation has provided scholarships to Latinas in the ACE Program for the past 12 years.  Those funds are matched by the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation.

ACE received the Excelencia in Education Award in 2006, and is included in Excelencia’s Growing What Works database: https://www.edexcelencia.org/programs-initiatives/growing-what-works-database/achieving-college-education-ace-program

ACE has been invited to present at local and national Latino higher education conferences. Also, ACE students have participated in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington, DC; the Hispanic Youth Institute sponsored by the Hispanic College Fund; and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Conference.

Author:  Stella Torres currently serves as the Director for the Maricopa ACE Programs, stella.torres@domail.maricopa.edu