Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General
We know that middle and high-income families have the privilege to send their children to the quality school of their choice: they can either move to school districts with high-performing public schools, or pay private school tuition. However, there are few quality tuition-free choices for low-income families. Therefore, the ACE K-12 Scholarship Program provides a portion of private school tuition, with a maximum of $2,000 per year for grades K-8 and $3,000 for grades 9-12. Parents or guardians are then responsible for the other portion of the tuition bill, and typically work out a payment plan or additional scholarship with their school to pay the remaining tuition.
Our partner schools include esteemed institutions such as St. Rose of Lima, Annunciation Catholic School, Kent Denver Country Day, and many others. Our schools challenge students in unique and fulfilling ways, and work to educate the whole child; St. Rose of Lima, for instance, requires its graduating 8th graders to complete a capstone thesis project, while Annunciation's curriculum is structured around expeditionary and project-based learning. Additionally, all of our partner school provide breakfast and lunch, and many of them offer food banks and nutrition assistance to the families they serve.
ACE's program is unique in that it is based on parental choice-when they approach ACE, the majority of our families have already made the decision to send their children to private school and have identified the school they wish to attend. The only obstacle in their way is finances, and ACE serves the bridge across that gap. ACE exclusively serves children whose families qualify for the federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program ($46,435 or less for a family of four)-this is the only requirement for applying for and receiving an ACE scholarship. The median income for our typical family of four in Colorado is $38,000 a year.
With 18 years of experience serving K-12 students and families, ACE has the experience and the data-driven results to prove its significant societal impact. In addition to maintaining graduation rates in the 90-100% range year after year, our partner schools offer small class sizes and long-tenured faculty, all while focusing on educating the whole child, not just the student.
In order to effectively assess the effectiveness of the scholarship program, ACE collects qualitative student and parent surveys, as well as quantitative academic performance data on our scholars, grades and test scores. From there, ACE partners with a third-party research team to effectively evaluate the data we collect. Every year, Dr. Didi Fahey of the research team QREM analyses our data and compiles an annual research report. Dr. Fahey's most recent results from 2017 reveal that ACE elementary students are 2.5 times as likely to be proficient in reading, and ACE middle school students are 5 times as likely to be proficient in math. In addition, ACE scholars of all ages spend nearly twice as much time playing/exercising, completing homework, and participating in extracurricular activities than the average student.
After graduating from high school, ACE scholars are going to college and leading productive lives and careers. ACE scholars enroll in and graduate from college at similar rates as students from predominantly high-income high schools, with many of them earning bachelor's degrees from esteemed institutions such as Stanford University, the Colorado School of Mines, and the University of Colorado.
While ACE scholarships directly serve students, they also have a direct and lasting impact on parents and families. According to Dr. Fahey's results, 8% of low-income parents spend time volunteering at school, compared to 39% for all incomes, and 29% of low income parents read to their children, compared to 45% of middle income parents. Contrastingly, 56% of ACE parents volunteer regularly, while 72% read to their children often, and nearly 90% of ACE families report eating dinner together as a family most evenings. In addition, once involved in the program, ACE parents are more likely to earn higher wages and pursue higher education themselves.