Member Feature: Increasing Impact by Digitizing Tried-And-True Resources
Guest blog by Diana Larmore, Director of Business Development, Alliance for Career and Education (ACE)
Frank "Coach" Luca is the CEO of Alliance for Career Education, Inc. (ACE), one of Maryland Nonprofits' newest members. Luca began coaching students through their transition from high school to college in 2001. In 2008 he partnered with Ira Greene, a successful Baltimore business owner, to expand the reach of his coaching services. Luca and Greene founded ACE, an organization that coaches students through career and education transitions. “Coaching is coaching,” Luca explains of transforming his career as an individual coach into a nonprofit organization.
With his new nonprofit status, Coach Luca was able to build on previous successes and grow his impact. Principals and members of the nonprofit community flocked to ACE's trainings, which are grounded in custom-designed textbooks. ACE also offers customized programs for individual schools. For example, New Visions Academy of Baltimore commissioned a custom program consisting of 15 weeks of transition readiness and college entry prep.
Over the years, Coach Luca has observed a shift in how ACE's target audience consumes information. “Students are reading textbooks less and are dependent on their cell phones for information,” he says. For this reason, ACE is currently shifting its lessons and materials to a digital platform. “There is such a need for this type of training and it’s important that our delivery methods are up to date,” Coach Luca says. “72% of the students in ACE programs complete their goals. That leaves us a lot of room for improvement. At ACE, we want to be ready to teach more students and we want our coaching to be as effective as possible."
Today, more than ten years after ACE was founded, three college students are joining the ACE team to launch a pilot project digitizing ACE's signature hard-copy textbooks. Nicholas Campbell, a second-semester student at Carroll County Community College, is majoring in cybersecurity. He is managing the initial software design to digitize the textbooks. Brady Miller, a graphic art student, is designing cartoon characters to illustrate the project and bring the textbook's advice to life. These animated elements will be woven throughout the digital resources. A community college music major will soon join the project to compose a musical theme for the app and handle elements involving audio, like voice-overs.
The services of these talented students have a twofold effect. The students themselves are gaining valuable experience to further their education and career readiness. Meanwhile, the project they are developing will eventually prepare hundreds of future young adults for college and career. As ACE moves towards this new chapter of its organizational life, Luca and Greene are preparing to launch a fundraising campaign that will allow ACE to offer their newly digitized programs at schools and organizations that could otherwise not afford their services. With their new technology and fundraising initiative, ACE hopes to reach more students than ever.
To learn more about ACE, visit their website or contact:
Coach Frank Luca, President, ACE, Frank.Luca@winning-step.com
Diana Larmore, Director of Business Development, ACE, Diana.Larmore.ACE@gmail.com