MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — Athletes Committed to Educating Students (ACES), a local non-profit offering after-school learning programs, will host its 24th Annual All-Star Evening Thursday, May 9 at the Hyundai Club in US Bank Stadium with Minnesota Viking Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren as the keynote speaker.
The evening will bring together professional athletes, media personalities and community stakeholders for silent and live auctions and an opportunity to learn more about ACES commitment to caring for Twin Cities youth. ACES will also honor the career of media personality and ACES supporter Mark Rosen, who has been involved with the organization for over a decade. Rosen served on ACES Advisory Board of Directors, where he was instrumental to the organization's success over the years.
The annual All-Star Evening has continued to grow, providing valuable resources. In 2017, the event raised $203,000, while in 2018, the event raised $240,000. That funding increase allowed ACES to shift the program’s model and more than doubled the amount of time youth spent in ACES throughout 2018. ACES hopes to continue this trend, raising $310,000 in 2019 to sustain and grow after-school programs.
Founded in 1994, ACES has provided after-school programming to over 6,000 youth throughout the Twin Cities by preparing students for school and their future careers through an innovative, sports-themed curriculum. In 2017-2018, ACES provided 300 hours of programming per student and conducted 20 experiential learning field trips. In 2019, ACES will serve an estimated total of 500 students. ACES also has an e-mentoring program, connecting athletes and sports staff with mentees in the ACES program, building relationships and talking about life beyond middle school.
The achievement gap is especially prevalent in the Twin Cities area, and carries major implications for the future economic and social health of Minnesota. Research shows the transition from middle school to high school exacerbates this gap, so ACES is working to change this trajectory, preparing students with the skills needed to successfully navigate the transition. Data from the 2018 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments shows math proficiency still remains a challenge in Minnesota, especially for youth of color.
During the 2017-2018 program year, ACES saw significant growth in students' academic and social-emotional skills, thanks in part to new initiatives — including dramatically increasing the amount of time students spent in academic programming, increasing the opportunities for "a-ha" moments. “Our frequent attendees had 20 percent higher math scores than those who came less frequently,” said ACES Executive Director Christina Saunders. “This proves what we already know: consistent and quality instruction is key.”
A large component of ACES’ success has been its valued partnerships with professional athletes who have a passion for student education. The Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba has played a large role, visiting multiple sites in 2018 and speaking at the 2018 All-Star Evening, where he was awarded the ACES Locke’d In award for his outstanding volunteerism and commitment to after-school programming. Dumba and former teammate Nino Niederreiter also bought out luxury suites at 11 Minnesota Wild home games to provide ACES students with an
NHL experience. ACES staff have seen an immense impact on student learning at after-school programs since putting an emphasis on athlete integration.
For more information on ACES 24th Annual All-Star Evening, visit www.aces4kids.org/all-star-evening and to donate to ACES, visit https://aces4kids.org/donate.
Athletes Committed to Educating Students (ACES) is an academic after-school program that engages urban youth in learning and provides opportunities to build the skills necessary to succeed academically, develop personally, and become responsible, contributing members of the community. ACES was founded in 1994 by Dr. Rajiv Shah and has served over 6,000 youth across the Twin Cities. Follow ACES on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.