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ACE Mentor Cleveland Continues to Provide Unique Experiences and Scholarships

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

After 13 years in the Cleveland area, The ACE Mentor Program has introduced over 1,500 students to careers in architecture, construction and engineering as well as provide an opportunity for local industry professionals to give back in meaningful ways.

The ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland is a non-profit that helps to prepare high school students for ACE careers through mentoring by industry professionals. The mission is to engage and enlighten high school students and support their continued advancement in the industry.

This summer, with support from Cleveland Foundation, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Governor’s Office of Faith Based Initiatives, Turner Construction, and others, seven ACE Cleveland students completed a 6-week Summer Experience that included sustainability related education, career/professional development through Dale Carnegie Institute that equals two credit hours for college, paid stipend and placement with an employer.

“It’s a deeper dive into ACE professions,” says Glen Shumate, executive director, ACE Mentor Cleveland. “It’s more than a summer camp or internship, but truly an intensive enriching experience.”

The ACE Summer Experience cohort was asked to research, discuss and develop a design concept to create a park with an intended (combined) goal of being a dog park and adjacent public gathering space on the south side of Chester Avenue between E. 71st and E. 72nd Streets.

The participants received a survey plat of the subject parcels with a preliminary concept/image recently developed by an ACE student. Some items for consideration while planning the project include aesthetics, tree conservation, pollution, recycling, materials use and budget.

Sustainable Construction practices which focus on long-term affordability, quality, and efficiency needed to be incorporated into the project. The ACE team has worked to develop a design that incorporates sustainability for long term success and low maintenance and to deliver a plan view drawing, sketch or rendering with basic dimensions and measurements, description of the materials selected for the various elements of the park as well as sustainable practices that could be included in the construction and a planning level cost estimate.

“All of [the participants] were put on the edge of their comfort zone a number of times and had breakthrough experiences,” says Jeanne Wiedt, Area Manager, Certified Trainer at Dale Carnegie of NE Ohio.

Wiedt says, because of the Dale Carnegie Training, they are going to be more confident in themselves and their ability to lead others, more willing to take risks, and be a leader who inspires other people. Students also received a “strength finder assessment, to identify dominate strengths.

Back in May, the ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland culminated the 2020-21 school year with some big wins which included awarding $80,000 scholarships to eight Cleveland-area students. Since its inception in 2008, they have provided over $1. 2 m in scholarships to over 180 students.

During a virtual year-end celebration, Cleveland State University (CSU) President Harland Sands and Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) CEO Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells provided remarks. Both community leaders have long been ACE Cleveland partners.

“It’s great to see the program continue and provide that exposure to architecture, construction and engineering,” said Dreyfuss-Wells. She also thanked NEORSD employees who served as members.

Dreyfuss-Wells explained that NEORSD projects taught students about infrastructure and said she appreciates the students’ effort, focus and dedication to the program. She also pitched the students to consider working for The District once they complete higher education.

“We need great minds like yours to build and maintain the infrastructure that keeps our great lake great and the rivers and streams in Northeast Ohio,” she said.

NEORSD have been an ACE partner for the last ten years and co-lead with Dominion at Collinwood high school for seven years.

“This is who we are. We are all about mentorship,” said Sands, recognizing the importance of mentorship and speaking about the kind of relationship building the ACE Mentor Program provides. “They work and they give confidence. They are connections for life. That’s why I’m here.”

Sands shared a personal story and offered sound advice. “All of the people are now your mentors. Keep in contact with them.”

CSU has been ACE Cleveland college partner for 8 years, providing matching scholarships to students who attend CSU, when they became the organization's first college partner. CSU has also produced the highest number of ACE Cleveland students enrolling in and graduating for college.

ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland also received some recognition from the national organization with Orlando Taylor, LEED AP BD+C, of Turner Construction Company being named one of six 2021 ENR - ACE Outstanding Mentors.

A jury of previous Outstanding Mentor award winners selected five exceptional mentors as 2021 ENR—ACE Outstanding Mentors. Their contributions to students, fellow mentors, and affiliates epitomize the dedication and effectiveness of ACE’s over 4,100 mentors. Each of their affiliates has received a student scholarship to be named after them. Engineering News-Record and its parent company BNP Media generously support this program.

This is the first time someone from Cleveland has received this honor. “I was surprised, totally surprised,” says Taylor. “I had no idea.”

Taylor has been volunteering with ACE Mentor Cleveland for about 10 years and estimates he’s worked with over 150 students. He brings in people to show and reinforce things he discusses. He volunteers with ACE Cleveland because “it’s needed.”

“Why do you go to school?” Taylor continued. “You go to gain some motivation and inspiration to figure out what you want to do in life. We’re introducing them to something. It’s really cool. And, we get another $2500 scholarship. That’s something tangible.”

The scholarship will be awarded next spring.

“Orlando really enjoys interfacing with kids,” says Glen Shumate, ACE Cleveland executive director. “He really tries to engage with students in a meaningful way and connects.”

Jason Jones, VP General Manager Turner Construction, says Orlando’s recognition as the ACE Mentor of the Year is an accomplishment that recognizes his many years of service to the organization.

“Orlando is a graduate of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and this award recognizes his commitment to community service and his passion for working with the students at Cleveland’s James F. Rhodes High School. Congratulations Orlando!”

Another national win includes Gregory George III, Cleveland affiliate architecture student at John Hay, receiving the CMiC-Allen Berg Memorial scholarship. With the support of Berg’s family, this program awards $400,000 in new scholarships annually to students who are planning to study architecture, construction, and engineering in college.

The scholarship competition is competitive. Each of the 77 affiliates can only nominate only one student. Nominees go through a two-stage review process to assess merit and financial need.

George has been involved in ACE Cleveland for two years. He will be attending Kent State University where he will major in architecture. He received a $12K scholarship from the national program’s CMiC scholarship, $8K scholarship from the Cleveland affiliate and $8K from Kent State.

“The place where I grew up was very underdeveloped and forgotten about,” said George during his year-end event student presentation video, when asked what makes him uniquely qualified to work in urban design and tackle urban problems.
“Seeing that as a kid, and wanting change, sparked me to want to get up and do something about it. This is my way of making change in my neighborhood.”

ACE also named a Women in Engineering scholarship named after Tari Rivera, president of Regency Construction Services Inc. Karungi Kabaseke, a John Hay graduate majoring in engineering at Case Western Reserve University is the recipient of this scholarship.

“I’m honored and humbled,” says Rivera. “It feels like a bit of a legacy for me all the years I’ve worked with ACE.”

She looks forward to meeting Kabaseke (Nadia) and is willing to mentor her.

As the upcoming school year approaches, the ACE Mentoring Program of Cleveland welcomes a new board chair, Matthew Danis, MBA, CPSM, Vice President of Shook Construction.

“I feel really fortunate to be stepping into a leadership role and following in the footsteps of several phenomenal past Board Chairs,” says Danis.

Danis is proud of what the chapter has been able to accomplish but feels there are always more students to connect with and more impact to be made through the experiences and relationships the ACE Mentor Cleveland program provides.

“Our board, mentors and other volunteers are excited to roll up our sleeves and continue the work,” says Danis.


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