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Advocates for Community Engagement (ACEs)

The Advocates for Community Engagement (ACE) Program develops socially responsible, civically engaged student leaders who facilitate quality service-learning experiences for all stakeholders and advocate for the common good of the community.

ACE 2015 StudentsACEs make a one-year commitment to work onsite at Bay Area nonprofit organizations to facilitate meaningful service-learning experiences for USF students. Primarily, ACEs act as liaisons between their host organizations, USF faculty, and service-learners to ensure the needs and expectations of all stakeholders are accounted for and prioritized. Additionally, ACEs contribute to service project development and oversight, facilitate regular reflections, and engage in their own direct service activities at the host organization. To ensure that ACEs are prepared to take on their responsibilities and supported throughout their experience, the McCarthy Center provides a training curriculum designed to cultivate and hone their skills, knowledge and sensitivities as advocates for social justice.

"I truly believe being an ACE is the best experience a student can get in their undergraduate career.  I will forever be grateful for what I have learned in the ACE program, and I know it has completely shaped the path of my future and how I choose to participate in this world." - Amanda Mitchell, 2015

  • 2014-2015 ACEs conducted over 65 reflective dialogues in the spring semester 
  • 2014-2015 ACEs worked with over 271 service-learning students during the year
  • Alumni ACEs have continued their studies into a range of programs including medical school, City and Regional Planning, and International Peace Studies
  • Alumni ACEs are now working as social workers, educators, non-profit leaders, and are even employed at their former ACE host sites
  • ACEs work 8-10 hours/week during the academic year
  • Training includes a two-day spring orientation, five-day fall training, three-day winter retreat, and biweekly group meetings on Fridays 4:00-6:00pm
  • McCarthy Center staff meet with ACEs once a month to provide mentorship and advising around issues related to the ACEs’ work, professional development, and personal growth
  • ACEs are paid $16.30/hour for the first year and a $0.50/hour increase for each subsequent year
  • Participation in the ACE program is not for academic credit
  • Host organizations are selected through an application process and are paired with ACEs at the discretion of McCarthy Center staff
  • The program requires one year commitment

ACEs apply and are selected the spring prior to the academic year during which they would serve. The application process includes completion of the online application (link below), list of references, and participation in an interview with the selection committee.

Apply online now!

Application Deadline: March 8th

To be eligible to apply, students must:ACE Exercise 2013

  • Be a rising sophomore or higher (undergraduates only)
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA or provide a compelling explanation for why GPA is below requirement
  • Demonstrate that they have already fulfilled the USF service-learning requirement
  • Commit to a full year in the program and to participate in the spring orientation, fall training, and winter retreat

Apply Now

For more information, please contact:

Andrea Wise
Assistant Director of Community-Engaged Learning
(415) 422-5205

Timeline for 2014-2015 ACE Cohort

  • August 11 - 15, 2014: Fall training
  • Dec. 5, 2014: Fall Semester Celebration
  • Jan. 21 - 23, 2015: Winter Retreat
  • April 18, 2015: Spring New ACE training

Name: Mary Cruz
Maor: Politics & Latin American Studies
Year: Junior
Phone: 310-883-8029

I am originally from Santa Monica, California. Last year, I served as the president of the Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars program on campus, which focuses on creating student activists through education and social justice. I have also been an active member of Latinas Unidas, a culturally-focused club on campus that emphasizes Latina empowerment and outreach to the Latino community. I am excited to continue to serve the club next year as Social Chair of its executive board. Outside of USF, I am currently interning for La Raza Centro Legal, a community-based legal organization in the Mission dedicated to empowering Latino, immigrant and low-income communities of San Francisco to advocate for their civil and human rights. I am particularly interested in working with immigration rights and immigration reform. Growing up as a daughter of two immigrant parents, being first generation to attend college, and having friends who are currently undocumented has been a motivating factor in what I see myself doing in the future. My family and community have served as a reminder of the sacrifices immigrants make in order to have a better life. That is why I hope to pursue a career in immigration law and immigrant rights. I am excited to work with Mission Graduates to continue building my relationship with the San Francisco community and also extending my knowledge and experience by providing mentorship to the youth of the Mission community.

Name: Esmeralda Garcia
Major: Sociology and Latin American Studies
Year: Senior
Phone: (650)714-3964
Organization: Opportunity Impact
Site Supervisor: Tiffany Wheeler

My hometown is Menlo Park, but I am originally from Redwood City. In my free time, I like to go for runs, read, cook, and dance; I really love to dance! One of my interests is working with younger students, which is why I am very excited to be working with the youth at Opportunity Impact and to learn more about the organization. In the past I have worked and volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club here in the city and back at home. And currently I am interning with Spark here in San Francisco. I have a lot of experience with office work, and hands-on work with middle school and high school students. I personally really enjoy working with youth because they are creative, energetic, and anything is possible with them.

ACE Joey Jordan HeadshotName: Joseph (Joey) Jordan
Major: Sociology
Year: Junior
Phone: (781) 771-5742
Organization: Family House
Site Supervisor: Karen Banks

With my degree I hope to enter the field of social work and eventually pursue a MSW at some point after I complete my undergraduate degree. I am originally from Boston, Massachusetts, but currently in love with my new home in San Francisco. I am so fascinated with everything the city has to offer, including the beautiful parks, the diverse population, and of course the famous cable cars. I hope to stay in California even after I graduate. I currently work two jobs. My first job is the ACE position, where I worked with Project Open Hand last year, a nonprofit in downtown San Francisco that serves "meals with love" to people living with critical illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS and breast cancer. There I mainly work in the Grocery Center, where I am given the opportunity to interact directly with the clients we serve, in addition to assisting them receive nourishing and healthy meals. My other job is teaching weekly Zumba Fitness classes at USF, where classes can reach up to 70 people. Teaching high-impact cardio classes is a lot of fun, and I find it very rewarding to be able to help motivate and support my students maintain a healthy lifestyle. This summer I will be participating in the McCarthy Center's Global Service-Learning Fellowship program in Udaipur, India, where I will intern with a local nonprofit for 10 weeks, reside with a host family, and help create a sustainable development project for the community.

Name: Charlie Kain-Williams
Major: Entrepreneurship Innovation
Year: Junior
Phone: (415) 305 3325
Organization: Meals on Wheels
Site Supervisor: Danie Belfield

It is my plan to start my own business upon graduating. I love being active and participate in many outdoors sports. I play rugby at USF and also love surfing, freediving and gymnastics. All or my work experience has been blue collar hands-on work like carpentry and masonry so I look forward to a job which requires a different type of professionalism.

Name: Kim Kollwitz
Major: Politics
Year: Junior
Phone: (928) 277-5450
Organization: Generation Citizen
Site Supervisor: Emily Falk

My interest is in public service and government. After my ten-week internship this summer in Udaipur, India with the Institute of Local Self-Government and Responsible Citizenship, I'm hoping that I'll have gained more practical skills in Asset-Based Community Development. I'm experienced in working with students, having been a student leader and mentor for three years with the national afterschool program Girl Talk, as well as being a Democracy Coach at Generation Citizen this past semester. I'm currently working with a group of high school seniors at Abraham Lincoln and helping them to address the issue of food waste in their school. In my free time, I love to explore and be involved in my community. As of last fall, I'm new to San Francisco, but I've made a point to attend local events and get to know the life and communities of the people in this wonderful, diverse city. Thanks to my fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, you can often find me volunteering in the Castro with humane societies or at a fun run in the Candlestick on the weekends.

ACE Amanda Mitchell HeadshotName: Amanda Mitchell
Major: Theology & Religious Studies/ Psychology; PSCE Minor
Year: Senior
Phone: N/A
Organization: Upward Bound
Site Supervisor: Darlene Conwell

Name: Dylan Moore
Major: Psychology
Year: Sophomore
Phone: (847) 702-0207
Organization: Bayview/Hunters Point YMCA
Site Supervisor: Celestino Ellington

I'm a freshman student at USF. I'm a psychology major with a focus on gender psychology with interests in public health and education. In the past my service work has involved working in shelters for battered women or displaced families. Recently, I've been working in the tenderloin at the Raphael House family shelter tutoring high school and middle school students. I have spent some time in Bayview earlier in the school year doing a project on the health resources available for children in the neighborhood.

ACE Maria Poyer HeadshotName: Maria Poyer
Major: Environmental Science
Year: Senior
Phone: (408) 839-5425
Organization: 7tepees
Site Supervisor: Jessica Torres

This will be my third year as an ACE and previously I have been a partner at Saint Anthony's Foundation, and most recently Meals on Wheels. Beginning as a Martin Baro Scholar, a living-learning community founded on public service at USF, I have been actively engaged in learning and service the SF community.

Name: Alexis Stanley
Major: Sociology
Year: Senior
Phone: (480) 201-3893
Organization: Breakthrough
Site Supervisor: Sasha Mungal

I am majoring in Sociology with an emphasis on Race & Ethnicity and minor in Latin American Studies. I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. Some of my interests include going to Pow-Wows on the Navajo Reservation and other reservations on the West Coast. I am obsessed with my English Bulldog named Prosciutto.

Name: Monique Taylor
Major: Advertising
Year: Senior
Phone: (206) 280-9613
Organization: African American Shakespeare Company
Site Supervisor: Sherri Young

I am entering my Senior year at USF as an advertising major. I am also minoring in both design and dance. I have a lot of experience working in the community, particularly with minority youth via my work with Magic Zone and through a club on campus, Sister Connection, that I am currently the president of. My experiences with these two organizations focused on project management, event planning, facilitating conversation, and tutoring. I am also very interested in the arts, any and all kinds of art. Post-graduation I hope to continue working in the community by applying the marketing/advertising skills (as well as graphic design and dance if applicable) that I learned in college to promote positive change.

Name: Katie Thaxton-Elkins
Major: Politics
Year: Sophomore
Phone: (510)205-4499
Organization: Episcopal Community Services
Site Supervisor: Mallory Hasick

I am originally from the Bay Area. Most of my experience in regards to service has been with children and education. For all of high school I tutored at my public library and am now currently working at the Tenderloin Community School with America Reads. I am also in a service class at school where I work closely with the children of the Raphael House, a transitional home for formerly homeless families. However, most of the students I have worked with have experienced homelessness and/or poverty, so it is important for me to learn more about the struggles of surmounting these obstacles head on rather than just through the classroom.

Name: Jessica Villa
Major: Sociology
Year: Junior
Organization: Mission Graduates
Supervisor: Jenna Casey

The following resources are intended for current Advocates for Community Engagement to use when planning reflections.

Peer-led Reflective Dialogues Wiki

Community-Engaged Learning Resource Page

How do you determine which organizations are ACE host organizations?

The host organizations for the ACE program are organizations that have participated in the McCarthy Center’s Community Partner Service-Learning Seminar. This seminar is offered twice a year to give community partners the tools to be effective co-educators in a service-learning experience. After partners participate, they can apply to host an ACE for the upcoming year. We select ACE host sites from the applicants we receive.

If I’m hired as an ACE, do I get to pick my own host organization?

We do try to give ACE finalists a sense of the organizations that will need ACEs. We also ask you to share the social issues you are passionate about, the skills you are bringing, and the knowledge you would like to gain. Ultimately, McCarthy Center staff aligns those factors with the needs of the organization and the supervisor’s style to determine the best fit for ACEs and ACE host sites.

Should I still apply for the program even though I’m only available for one semester and not the whole year?

Yes, please still apply for the program but be sure to indicate which semester you will be gone. Sometimes we have current ACEs who plan to study abroad or graduate in December, so you may still be eligible.