ACE is a not-for-profit organization, formed under Section 501(c)3 of the District of Columbia in 2002. Prior to that date (1994), ACE's leadership was directed by the ACE Mentor Program of New York City, the founding affiliate.
After several years of experimenting with various mentoring models, ACE was formed in 1994 when seventeen firms banded together into 3 teams, each organized like a typical design and construction team, and "adopted" about 90 students from local high schools. Volunteers from each of the firms, serving as mentors, worked directly with the students to introduce them to the broad range of people and projects within the construction industry.
Students were introduced to the various design professions and the role that each performs in planning, designing and constructing a project. Students also gained first hand insight into the design industry by touring project offices and visiting active construction sites. And students worked closely with their mentors to solve challenging "real world" projects.
In the spring of 1995, ACE New York held its first fundraising event to establish a scholarship program for ACE graduates. Scholarships continue to be awarded on an annual basis to ACE graduates who go on to college to study for a career in the design and construction industry.
The ACE Mentor Program has a presence in more than two hundred cities in America — from New York to Los Angeles, Seattle to Miami, Chicago to Dallas, even Honolulu — and is still growing. Thanks to the dedication of ACE's mentors and staff, and the support of local schools, more than 60,000 students, many who are economically challenged, have had an opportunity to explore the building design and construction industry.