The Ace Scholarship Program
During my time at the Amarillo Area Foundation, I have learned about a variety of different outreach programs and initiatives. Each of the programs I was exposed to were in varying stages of development. The Community Asset Map project I worked on during my first internship was a part of an initiative that is quite new—maybe 2-3 years in motion. At the opposite end of that spectrum is the ACE Scholarship Program, which celebrated its 20th year this November. As such, it was really interesting to see the difference between an “initiative” in its fledgling stages, and a project which has grown to include a sustained endowment fund.
A Little Bit About ACE
Education is a significant indicator of economic success and stability. Statistically, persons living at or below the poverty-line are less likely to have attained higher levels of education. 20 years ago, the board of directors of the Amarillo Area Foundation decided to do something regarding the graduation rates at Palo Duro High School. Graduation rates were low, and realizing that poverty can be a cycle perpetuated by economic barriers to high level learning, the AAF decided to implement a program that would remove those barriers and perhaps provide a greater initiative for finishing high school. Thus, the ACE Scholarship Program was born.
Eligibility is determined by statistics related to free and reduced lunches. If 85% or more students in an elementary school qualify for free or reduced lunches, then all the students in that school qualify for the ACE Scholarship program. Students who enroll in the program must maintain a 2.5 GPA and a 95% attendance rate. If they do so, upon graduation from High School, ACE Students are guaranteed a position at Amarillo College and/or West Texas A&M University.
NO LIMITS NO EXCUSES
Recently, the ACE Scholarship Program has grown into a bigger initiative and motto—NO Limits NO Excuses. “No limits” reflects a promise to students that all limits to achieving education will be removed. “No Excuses” refers to the responsibility of community members to act in removing those limitations or barriers. This moto encompasses not only the monetary aspects of ensuring academic success, but also the necessary and positive attitudes needed to foster achievement. The No Limits No Excuses program supplements the ACE Scholarship program with additional services for qualifying families. There is a No Limits Neighborhood program which offers additional individualized support for families trying to achieve higher education.