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ACE Empowered by I-LEAD

ACE Empowered by I-LEAD

It takes a village to raise a child.  It also takes a village to run the ACE Collaborative.

I-LEAD, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Greater Philadelphia focused on education and leadership development, was conducting intense leadership training with community leaders and organizations in the region.  The community leaders, many of whom had not attended college, planted the seed that these trainings are worthy of college credit.  Germinating in the mind of social entrepreneur David Castro, the vision for ACE as an accredited college degree program grew.  Partnering with a local college and building on existing relationships with community organizations, I-LEAD has grown ACE from one original pilot site with 20 students to twelve sites with over 600 current students and 400 graduates.

In the ACE model:

I-LEAD serves as facilitator, forming the partnerships, coordinating operations, providing technical assistance, and cultivating leadership principles in the program, students and staff.  

Community Based Organizations leverage existing facilities and community relationships to host classes, recruit students, and provide success services that increase retention and graduation rates.

Higher Education Institutions provide Middle States accreditation and financial aid processing, application, matriculation and graduation procedures, hire faculty, and maintain a suite of degree offerings.

I-LEAD Empowering Communities

At bottom, I-LEAD seeks to help community leaders look within themselves and work with one another to develop the core leadership skills that will help their communities truly succeed. A strategy of “divide and conquer” to address social problems fails to recognize that free, spiritually-rooted human beings are the most important participants in this situation. I-LEAD seeks to help people build the capacities to help themselves through their own leadership. To use a metaphor from the healthcare field, I-LEAD does not seek to eliminate diseases or to ameliorate symptoms with band-aids, but rather to work toward creating long-term community wellness and health through leadership development.

Skillful and knowledgeable grassroots leaders are better able to create deep and radical changes in their communities. They become self-sustaining and plentiful sources of positive energy in these communities. With improved skills and information, they create new wealth and new opportunities; and they attract new financial and human resources. Connecting these neighborhood leaders with one another, and equipping them with credentialed leadership education empowers residents to examine and engage their own strengths to build authentic community. With a restored sense of efficacy and a degreed citizenry, the economic, civic, and social well-being of a community can be sustained into the future.

Why College is the #1 Strategy to Improve Community Quality of Life

talk by David Castro, President and CEO, I-LEAD, Inc. @ Ashoka U. Conference