Lea Olson Visits KIPP

Our KIPP site was excited to welcome sports journalist Lea B. Olsen as a guest speaker last week. Lea, a former Gopher basketball player and sports reporter, recently started “Rethink The Win,” an organization dedicated to creating positive experiences for youth and families in the evolving world of competitive sports.

For the past few weeks, students at KIPP have been learning about athletes who have overcome challenges and broken barriers in sports. With a focus on gender equity, students learned about Title IX and women in sports media, as they read newspapers and websites to gather statistics on the amount of coverage on women’s sports versus men’s sports. They found that men’s sports had far more coverage in both local sports networks and large, national media outlets like the New York Times. Their findings inspired them to ask Lea about her thoughts on these issues: As a female journalist, do you face discrimination? Do you think men support women’s sports? How do you feel about men’s sports getting more attention than women’s sports?

Lea explained some of the challenges she faced as a female sideline reporter and analyst for the Timberwolves and Lynx, and more importantly she explained how she was able to break barriers and overcome those challenges.

Lea’s key message to students was the importance of balancing engagement in sports with academic excellence and involvement in other activities. Lea has found that in youth sports, there is a strong emphasis on winning and competition. Young people are encouraged to dedicate all of their time to excelling in their sport and miss out on other co-curricular experiences and academics. Lea emphasized the importance of dedication to school and other activities in addition to sports, something that ACES strives to encourage in student-athletes as well. 

Volunteer Spotlight!

In many of our ACES classrooms, volunteers show up every week with a smiling face, ready to engage kiddos in learning. We believe that dedication should be recognized, so we are shining a spotlight on Hans Storvick, who has volunteered this school year with ACES at Ramsey Middle School. We asked him some questions about his experience:

Q: Tell us about yourself!

A: I am an international tax analyst at General Mills, so I work on computing our yearly taxes and filing US tax returns for our international companies. For fun, I really enjoy cheering on our Minnesota sports teams, whether in person or on TV. My wife, Amy and I are expecting a baby girl to arrive in the next couple of weeks, so we are very much preparing for the excitement of being first time parents.

Q: What brought you to ACES? 

A: When I was a student athlete at the U of M, I was exposed to a lot of volunteer opportunities, and I wanted to find a way to be involved again. I do believe that finding topics that really interest students, like sports, can really help to engage them in learning. I thought this was the perfect program for me to participate in. 

Q: What have you enjoyed or learned from volunteering with ACES?

A: I have particularly enjoyed the times when I have been able to engage with a student one-on-one and get to know them more. It was also a learning experience to be back in a classroom as an adult and see the incredibly difficult job teachers have both during school and in after-school programs. I think we need more Ms. Marias (ACES staff) in this world, because it’s her and so many others who are shaping our next generation and making a difference in their lives every day.

Breaking Barriers

ACES 5th graders have been learning about athletes who have broken racial, gender, and physical barriers in their sport. Athletes like Jackie Robinson and Althea Gibson have paved the way for athletes of color and female athletes to do what they love at a professional level.

To celebrate the accomplishments of these athletes, ACES kiddos conducted research on a barrier breaking athlete of choice and then made paper mache sculptures to depict them. 

Pieces of paper were stretched out to cover tables, and students delighted in rolling up their sleeves to cover their structures in paper mache. After their sculptures had dried, students painted them make them look like baseballs and bats (for Jackie Robinson), waves (for Olympic gold medalist swimmer Simone Manuel), and basketball players (for the 1966 Texas Western Basketball team, the first NCAA championship team with an all black starting lineup).

ACES Kiddos Witness MNUFC's First Win!

On April 1st, ACES students from Folwell Performing Arts Magnet School in Minneapolis witnessed MN United FC get their first MLS win. These students were among more than 17,000 fans who gathered at TCF Bank Stadium to cheer on the Loons as they scored four goals against Real Salt Lake. Students were selected to attend based on consistent attendance, positive behavior in the classroom, and persistent hard work during ACES. It was clear that the students had a blast cheering for the home team. “I liked it when everybody got up and screamed when they scored!” Angelica (4th grade) said.

Thank you to MN United FC for the tickets! The ACES kiddos had a blast!

Play60 & Hometown Huddle!

ACES has once again been lucky enough to participate in excursions to visit our partners at the Minnesota Vikings! This fall, students were privileged to attend on-field celebrations at US Bank Stadium as part of the NFL’s “Play60” fitness initiative- and also go behind the scenes by visiting players and practice at Winter Park thanks to United Way. Check out these pictures!

Clifton Ross Joins ACES Board of Directors!

ACES is pleased to welcome Clifton Ross, President & CEO of Guardian Resources and Managing Partner of Guardian Wealth Strategies, a successful investment advisory firm. He has a passion for developing and mentoring people to realize their true potential as well as empowering youth and teens with underprivileged backgrounds. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Clifton has the special ability to connect and relate to the challenges of urban youth.  He has been able to impact young people with speaking engagements at various middle and high schools in the Minneapolis area, as well as volunteering as a youth coach at the Juvenile Detention Center in Hennepin County. He is excited to bring his knowledge and experience to advance the mission of ACES.

Clifton lives is Prior Lake with his wife of 19 years and three children, ages 13, 11, and 8.

ACES Volunteer Highlight

ACES is starting a new volunteer highlight campaign as a way to thank the wonderful volunteers who work with our students!

Our first volunteer highlight is Aaron Youngberg! Aaron served on our Linwood Monroe Arts Plus team this past semester, becoming an influential role model for the 7th grade students he worked with. Aaron is an aspiring middle school teacher and recent graduate of University of Northwestern-St. Paul with a degree in Education Studies. Thank you for your commitment, hard work, and the impact you made with our students this semester!

All-Star Evening Success!

We would like to thank everyone for their attendance, generosity, and most of all, their presence at ACES most recent (and 11th annual!) All-Star Evening, held May 12th and hosted again by WCCO Anchor Mark Rosen and morning anchor Ali Lucia! Director of the Office of Early Education Melvin Carter delivered the keynote address and ACES was able to raise over $100,000 to further student success in the Twin Cities. As always, attendees were able to enjoy the delicious upscale stadium cuisine of the DQ Club Room while hobnobbing with local sports figures and taking in the antics and flair of local mascots and cheerleaders from the Vikings and Timberwolves!

ACES 11th Annual All-Star Evening! May 12th, TCF Stadium DQ Club Room

ACES students are excited to meet you, Melvin Carter is thrilled to speak to you, the mascots are fired up to snap a photo, and the auction is waiting patiently for your bids...

Register HERE for a night filled with classic stadium cuisine, fantastic speakers, hobnobbing with some of Minesota's best athletes... with all proceeds going to benefit the great work of ACES!

Thank you to our sponsors for their support!

Happy Spring BREAK!

Good Friday kicks off Minneapolis' Spring Break week! We hope that all of our students take some time to get outside and play! We can't wait to see you back in school on Monday April 4, 2016. A reminder to students attending that tomorrow, Saturday March 26 is our field trip to TCF Stadium for Field Day! Stay tuned for pictures and an event recap!

**St Paul's spring break begins April 4. ACES classes in St Paul will resume on Monday, April 11, 2016.**

E-mentoring kickoff!

E-mentoring connects adults in the community with our middle school students. Mentors will be sending their introductory emails today, starting off a semester of correspondence on math problems and future career plans all filtered through the fun of a mock fantasy sports league. Check out this quote from a former mentee on the impact E-mentoring had on her!

"The reason I'm sending you this email is because you helped me become the person i am today with having you as a E- Mentor. I'm still chasing my dream like you told me to when I was Aces I'm currently working at an elementary school and when I graduate I'll be studying criminal law and business and I would have quit but I kept going so I thought I should thank you for everything you done to help me become I am today."

ACES student speaks at the YIPA Press Conference

ACES 7th grade student, Kiera, was awarded the opportunity to speak at the annual YIPA (Youth Interventions Programs Association) Press Conference this past Friday, March 11th! Kiera got to give a little blurb about her experience being apart of the ACES program, some fond memories that she has had with the friends she has made, and a fun moment of getting to race against Vikings player Stefon Diggs. She did an exceptional job in delivering her speech and was certainly a crowd favorite. Great job Kiera!



ACES visits TCF Stadium and kicks off Stadium Architecture unit

ACES youth had the opportunity to visit TCF Stadium at the University of Minnesota and go on a guided tour of the facilities there in February, after which they kicked off the Stadium Architecture unit in their ACES classrooms! Check out these photos of the visit and the design and building process. Thank you to the U of M Student Athletes for the visit and look for completed photos of stadiums here when they're done!

E-Mentoring Program

Are you looking to be a positive influence in a student's life? If so, you should apply to be an ACES mentor through our E-Mentoring Program! 

E-mentoring is a great way for adults to engage with our middle school students and get involved with ACES programming. Beginning in March, you will email once per week with an ACES student. You'll help them practice appropriate communication, grammar, and, as a professional, you'll provide a life-long example of what is achievable beyond graduation! This year, ACES students will compete in a fantasy basketball league within their class. As an e-mentor, you'll work to help them compute math problems, and correspond about the results.

To register fill out an application here. Once you complete the application our Outreach Coordinator, Jonathan Turner, will reach out to you regarding details moving forward!

Join Our Team!

Ready to make that New Years resolution? Are you looking for a way to give back in 2016? Get involved with ACES!

We are currently seeking enthusiastic individuals to lead our after school classes. ACES programming incorporates structured homework and academic skill building time and a newly revised sports-themed curriculum to focus on math and social emotional enrichment for 4th through 8th graders.

Qualifications:

·       Interest in supporting urban students in academic and personal growth

·       Self-motivated, dependable and able to work independently

·       Strong team work and collaborative skills

·       Strong oral communication skills

·       Willingness to be flexible and able to take initiative

·       Ability to take direction in order to meet program quality standards

·       Ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds

Apply to be an Academic Coach. Paid position offering 10-15 hours per week. To apply, please submit resume and completed application (found here) to Zong Vang at zongvang@aces4kids.org.

Donate your time! ACES is always looking for great volunteers. Fill out this application!

Explore our website or contact ACES at 612-331-3454 for more information.

ACES has Tunnel Vision!

#TBT! Throwback to last Sunday when our ACES middle schoolers had the opportunity to run out of the tunnel and across the field at TCF stadium before the big game versus the Seattle Seahawks! Eleven students from Linwood Monroe Arts Plus school in St Paul stood out on the field during the national anthem and then took their seats for the remainder of the game! Despite the score, our students had an amazing time and an unforgettable day. A huge shout out to our partners, the Minnesota Vikings, for providing us with this awesome opportunity. 

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