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WHY ACE

Everybody wants school reform. Kids like Javier actually need it.

Experts at every level of education and government have been talking about school reform for over 30 years. And while in that time we’ve made some progress, far too many kids are still trapped in schools that don’t work for them. And with the large bureaucracy that our educational system is, dramatic and practical improvements just won’t come soon enough, especially for kids from low-income families. That means too many kids in each new generation will get left further and further behind. In fact, a large number of today’s kids from low-income families will never graduate high school, and that’s completely unacceptable.

93%
High school graduation rate
Most of our graduates go to college
66,000
Scholarships
worth nearly $170M have been awarded over 22 years
6,704
ACE Scholars 2021-22
We helped over six thousand students in the 2021-2022 school year

Let’s face it. Trying to tackle school reform all at once is a pretty daunting task.

But then we realized something — we don’t need to. Instead, if we could help just one child at a time, we’d be able to have real impact starting from day one. And so we set out on a mission. We noticed something that everyone else seemed to overlook. While there were a lot of kids from low-income families failing in their current schools, there were a lot of really great schools with extra capacity. We saw independent schools operating with their own philosophies and teaching styles. Yet, as different as they all were, each excelled with the type of students they served. Maybe the problem wasn’t that there weren’t enough good schools, but rather that low-income families didn’t have a way into these schools. So we decided to change that.

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Why wait for others, when we could make a difference ourselves?

This is the philosophy behind ACE Scholarships, a nonprofit organization that raises money from generous donors and then awards financial scholarships to students from low-income families so they can attend the school of their choice. ACE Scholarships has quickly become an educational success story. In fact, since 2000, we’ve awarded over 66,000 Scholarships worth nearly $170 million, giving children from low-income families the chance to succeed. And succeed they have, graduating high school with most going on to college.

Who we help

ACE Scholarships works with low-income families from a variety of different circumstances across numerous states. To qualify for an ACE scholarship, a family must meet the income requirements for the federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program. Our families have an average income of $43,766 a year.  

Like any great idea, you have to start somewhere.

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We started in Colorado. Click to learn more about the states we now work in.

We major in economics.

ACE Scholarships makes financial and economic sense. For each student that graduates high school, it saves society $9,434 each year. Funding for public schools has increased by over 300% in the last 45 years. Yet, the academic performance of students has remained virtually unchanged. Kids in elementary and high school today can’t afford to wait any longer for the system to change. Especially when there’s a proven and cost-effective alternative. For about $2,500 a student, ACE can provide a scholarship to a low-income family so their student can get out of a situation where they’re failing and into an environment where they can succeed.

Meet our board members and staff.

Board of Directors

LINDSAY BROWN
Senior Vice President, Jones Lang LaSalle

ALEX CRANBERG
Chairman, Aspect Energy

DEBORAH FLORA
Partner/Co-Founder Lamplight Entertainment and Whetstone Media Group

ERIC KOEPLIN
President & CEO, Alpha Principal

JOE SMITH
Partner, Bartlit Beck LLP 
(Chairman)

RICK SCHMITZ
Partner, SKS Ventures

JERRY SOMMER
Denver, CO

MATT TURNER
Managing Partner, MorningStar Senior Living
(Secretary)

LISA WALSH
Denver, CO
(Vice Chair)

MIKE WARD
Owner, Mike Ward Infiniti, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, McLaren, Fiat

BERT WILLIAMS
COO, Johnson Financial Group

LIZ WRIGHT
Denver, CO 

TOM ZANECCHIA
President, Wealth Management Consultants, Inc.
(Treasurer)

National Advisory Board

JUDY AND DICK AGEE
Founder & Chairman, Wapiti Energy and Bayou Well Holdings Company
Texas

JOY AND DONALD "BOYSIE" BOLLINGER
Louisiana
National Advisory Board Chairman

GOVERNOR JEB BUSH
Florida
Honorary National Advisory Board Member

BETH AND JONATHAN CARR
President, Christian Brothers Foundation
Texas

PETE AND MARILYN COORS
Colorado

FRAN AND TERRY COMBS
CEO, Integrated Airline Services
Colorado

CATHY AND ALEX CRANBERG
Chairman, Aspect Energy, LLC
Texas

HEIDI CRUZ
Managing Director, Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Texas

CYNTHIA FISHER
Entrepreneur

LYNN FRIESS
Founder, Friess Associates
Wyoming

LANE AND BOBBI GRIGSBY Founder & Chairman, Cajun Industries LLC
Louisiana

CHAZ AND SUSAN MUELLER
Texas

EDDIE AND LINDA RISPONE
Louisiana

JOHN AND CAROL SAEMAN Colorado

RICK AND SUSAN SCHMITZ
Colorado

SCOT AND KEELY SELLERS
Colorado

LISA AND TIM WALSH CEO, Confluence Builders, LLB

LIZ AND CHRIS WRIGHT
CEO, Liberty Oilfield Services, LLC
Colorado

Staff

JAY BALLARD Development Database Coordinator

SINDY BECKERLE National Foundations Manager

ERIK BILLINGER VP of Development, Colorado

JO BRINKERHOFF National Events Manager

HANNAH BUNCH REBER Director, ACE Arkansas

TINA BURKE Director of Development Operations

MIKE COLEMAN Chief Program Officer

JASON DIFRAIA President

KIRSTEN EASTWOOD Program Director

KAREN FARRAND Chief Financial Officer

ERIN GABRIEL National Programs Communications Coordinator

RHONDA GONZALES Senior Accountant

KELLY GRIFFIN Senior Events Coordinator

CATHERINE "CAT" HENDRIX National Alumni Affairs Director

DENISE HERNANDEZ Program Coordinator, Public Programs

RITA HOEFT Controller

JR HOLLAND President, ACE Dallas & Fort Worth

LENNIE JARRATT Data & Evaluation Manager

AJ KUHLE Director, ACE Kansas

MELISSA LANDRY President, ACE Louisiana

HALLE MATHUES Human Resources Director

TYEJEREE MCMANUS ACE Louisiana Alumni Director

ALEX NUÑEZ Associate Director of Development, ACE Houston/San Antonio/Austin

BRITTANI O'BRIENVP of Development, Colorado

EDELMIRA ORTIZ-MARTINEZACE Colorado Alumni Liaison

ROGER PATTISON Chief Development Officer

JAKE PENWELL President, ACE Montana & Wyoming

MARCY PHANNENSTIEL Office Manager

JENEE PULLIAM ACE Texas Alumni Director

JASMINE PURINGTON Data Analyst

NORTON RAINEY Chief Executive Officer

LINDSEY RHODES Director of Public Program

SHELLEY ROGERS President, ACE Houston/San Antonio/Austin

CALLI RULON Events Coordinator

RYAN SCHMITZ Development Associate, Colorado

JEFFREY VAN CLEAVE Program Coordinator

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Want to see our report card?

ACE is proud to receive Charity Navigator’s highest rating, 4 stars.

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