What Makes ACE Unique
The program engages Chicago area youth by using baseball as a learning tool. By working with these young men from some of Chicago's most depressed communities and teaching them about hard work, cooperation and dedication, the ACE program helps provide Chicago youth with opportunities to continue their education and pursue collegiate and professional baseball careers.
More importantly, ACE focuses on developing players to succeed off the field. Participants receive academic direction and support to prepare them for success beyond baseball and learn the core values of personal responsibility and accountability.
ACE best comes to life through the faces and stories of its participants.
Consider individuals such as Ronell Coleman and Corey Ray, two former ACE participants who not only earned Division I scholarships, but who also played against one another in the 2014 College World Series for Vanderbilt University and the University of Louisville, respectively. During the summer of 2014, Coleman became the ACE program's first college National Champion. Both often talk about how the program has impacted their baseball prospects, but more importantly and more often they speak about how ACE has helped their life prospects.
Also think about players such as James Davison, who because of the gang problems in his neighborhood didn't leave his home for anything other than baseball or school. ACE provided him with the freedom to be outside in a safe environment and an opportunity for which earned the distinction of being drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 39th round of the 2014 amateur draft. Davison chose to attend Howard College in Texas.
It is also important to recognize that the efforts of the ACE program have helped reignite interest in baseball among Chicago's African-American community. Six members of the Jackie Robinson West Little League World Series team that won the U.S. Championship - Cameron Bufford, Brandon Green, Tre Hondras, Josh Houston, Ed Howard and Marquis Jackson - also participate on the ACE program's U12 team. The entire Sox organization supported these players and their families in many ways including sponsoring Watch Parties and the parade organized by the City of Chicago to celebrate their national celebrated success.
The fact is, for many Chicago kids, there isn't much to keep the pulse of violence out of their lives, but for some, baseball and the White Sox ACE program can serve not only as a relief from that horrific reality, but also help them succeed in life.