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Updated: Oct 18, 2023

The ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland culminated its 13th year with its Spring Celebration on May 27th and celebrated some big wins. The Spring Celebration is the organization’s signature annual event, honoring both student program participants and the mentors who generously give their time and leadership to help students prepare for careers in design and construction.

During the virtual event, ACE Cleveland participants presented design-build projects developed throughout the year with the guidance of their mentors. And most importantly, ACE Cleveland awarded $80,000 scholarships to eight Cleveland-area students.

Since its inception in 2008, they have provided over $1 million dollars in scholarships to over 150 students.

“This year’s program participants overcame unprecedented adversity without missing a beat,” said Mark Panzica, ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland Board Chair. “The students adjusted to virtual programming with ease, and that’s exactly the kind of adaptability that will help them thrive in these industries.”

Cleveland State University (CSU) President Harlan 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.

She 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 sponsor for the last ten years and co-lead with Dominion at Collinwood High School for six 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 this 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 track of 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 Cleveland received some recognition from the national organization as well 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,” said Taylor. “I had no idea.”

Taylor has been volunteering with ACE Mentoring 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,” said Glen Shumate, ACE Cleveland executive director. “He really tries to engage with students in a meaningful way and connects.”

Another national win includes Gregory George III, Cleveland affiliate architecture student at John Hay, receiving the CMiC-Allen Berg Memorial scholarship.

These scholarships honor the late founder of the construction management software company, CMiC. 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. Among the 10,000 ACE Mentoring students nationwide, 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 $12,000 scholarship from the national program’s CMiC scholarship and an $8,000 scholarship from the Cleveland affiliate.

“The place where I grew up was very underdeveloped and forgotten about,” said George during his 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 who plans to major 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.”

Rivera, who has been in business for 28 years this upcoming September, has volunteered with ACE Cleveland since the beginning. She’s been on board and served as chair for two years.

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

This summer, with support from Cleveland Foundation and Youth Opportunities Unlimited, ACE Cleveland will provide a 6-week Summer Experience that includes sustainability related education, career/professional development through Dale Carnegie Institute, paid stipend and placement with an employer.

“It’s a deeper dive into ACE,” said Shumate. “Not just a summer camp, but truly an experience.”

To learn more about ACE Cleveland visit.


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