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About ACE

Duke University and Stanford University launched the Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement Program (ACE) in Spring 2015 to provide student-athletes with opportunities for immersive civic engagement experiences. Recognizing the challenge for student-athletes to fully participate in many of the offered campus programs, Duke and Stanford are meeting this need together by offering student-athletes greater access to civic engagement and service opportunities through ACE.

Funded by the support of David Rubenstein, Peter and Helen Bing, and Duke Athletic ticket sales, ACE enables partner organizations to work with student athletes to create projects that serve community needs while providing full funding to student-athletes for these endeavors. Each summer, 40 Duke-Stanford ACE student-athletes — 20 Duke and 20 Stanford — will participate in one of four international service programs.

Want to know more about ACE? Read more about the ACE program history and mission.

Civic engagement is action undertaken at the request of a community partner that is designed to identify and address issues of public concern.  This definition may incorporate everything from traditional service work to non-partisan political participation and includes both direct service — or “hands-on” work — and “capacity building” activities.

Student-athletes are eligible to participate in one of four international programs with diverse service themes and geographic locations. While each of the programs will focus on working with youth around coaching and sports enrichment, student-athletes will also have the opportunity to serve in areas such as health outreach, education, environmental conservation, social enterprise, and more. Volunteer-sending organizations (VSOs) collaborate with ACE staff to develop all programs.

All program-related expenses are covered for ACE participants. These may include: travel, meals, accommodations, gym facilities (if available), vaccinations, visas, and incidentals.  Please note that ACE does not cover the cost of applying for student-athletes’ passports.

Each ACE program will have its own respective start and end dates that apply to participating student-athletes. Specific departure and return dates for each group program will be announced as soon as they are known. All ACE programs run for approximately three weeks each.

Access to training facilities will depend on the program location. Please refer to each individual program profile for more information about is available at a particular site. If you have further questions, you can email the program contact listed on the profile page. While your primary purpose on the program is serve with your community partner, you can expect to have some time before your work starts or at the end of the day to train. Please be mindful that some program sites have expectations around culturally appropriate dress when exercising. You are encouraged to talk with your coach about what training facilities you will need and how to modify workouts if needed.


You will need to present a compelling case for yourself, including your past work and volunteer experiences, your classwork, and goals. It will take you several hours to develop your thoughts and answer all of the questions. We do not recommend waiting until the last minute to start your application; ideally, you should start your application as soon as you have determined the program(s) to which you would like to apply. As with any other written assignment, starting well ahead of the deadline will give you time to organize your thoughts, draft, revise, edit, and submit your best work. Applications are not accepted after the deadline. You should prepare to submit your application ahead of this time and not wait until the last minute.

To complete your application, you will need to provide some additional information. You will need your health insurance card, your passport, the name and contact information of your head coach, and contact information for your parent or guardian. Gathering these documents and this information before you start your application can help streamline your application preparations.

Finally, ACE staff is not able to help students with applications generally. We are pleased to help you if you have a questions such as “what is an example of an experience that demonstrated flexibility?” but we cannot appraise or edit the content of individual student applications. If you would like an outside opinion on your application, we recommend making an appointment at the Thompson Writing Center (Duke) or the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking (Stanford).

Learn more about preparing to apply to participate in an ACE program.

ACE programs take place throughout the summer and last approximately three consecutive weeks. Program dates are set well in advance and must be adhered to by student-athletes. As you decide which program(s) are the best fit, we encourage you to consider any summer school obligations, team or training requirements, potential competitions, etc. that might have an impact on which dates you can participate. All students are required to participate in pre-departure trainings and meetings.

Yes. You must submit one coach recommendation with your application. Your recommendation can come from your head coach or position coach. You will be asked to provide your coach’s name and email address.

A student-athlete may apply up to two programs as early as the freshman year.

From November to January, ACE will hold information sessions. Notifications will be announced on our website, our ACE Facebook page and via Duke and Stanford Athletic Department communication channels.

If you’d like to draft your application outside of the ACE application portal, we highly recommend that you use a text document like TextPad (in Microsoft). Using Word may create copy-and-paste issues with punctuation and quotation marks. We still recommend that you save your work regularly, and that you allow ample time ahead of the submission deadline to transfer your application. You may not submit a text document in lieu of an application.


Due to the number of applications that ACE receives, not every student athlete who applies will be invited for an interview. Interviews can take place any time during the application review period and may be conducted in person or via phone/Skype. Not all programs will conduct interviews at the same time, nor will they send out all of the interview invitations at the same time.


Any Duke or Stanford active NCAA varsity student-athlete who will have completed two semesters or three quarters of classes by the time his/her ACE experience begins is eligible to apply and participate. All participants must be in good standing at their respective university to participate.  Because one of the primary goals of the program is for the campus community to benefit from the shared experience of participants, student-athletes must have at least one semester or quarter back on campus after they complete their ACE experience. Student-athletes may participate in only one, funded ACE experience.

ACE staff and program leaders will determine suggested language or other applicable prerequisites, which will be identified in program descriptions.

Yes. Student-athletes in good standing who have completed two semesters or three quarters before the start of their ACE program, and who will complete at least one semester or quarter at Duke or Stanford after ACE are eligible. This includes student-athletes enrolled in study abroad before or after ACE.

Student-athletes accepted to ACE are asked to submit a binding statement of intent within a week of receiving notification from the ACE office. If you are accepted and chose not to participate, simply decline the offer, and you will be eligible to apply again in the future. If you do submit a statement of intent to participate and later withdraw, you will be ineligible to re-apply.

Yes, student-athletes studying abroad may apply. If needed, your interview will be conducted via phone or Skype.

You should apply for a passport before submitting your application, however, your application will be accepted without the passport in hand. If you are accepted, you will be expected to submit your passport to ACE in mid-March to register for your program. ACE does not cover the cost of applying for student-athletes’ passports.


Your chances of being accepted increase when you apply to programs that match your skills and interests.  Do you have the skills needed by the community partner you would be serving with? Have you demonstrated through coursework, athletic participation, and/or co-curricular activities that you will be a strong contributor? Are you a good team member of upstanding character? Come to advising and ACE information sessions to help inform your choices.

Each year, all deadlines and dates are advertised on our website. ACE sends acceptance notifications to student-athletes via an email to their or address approximately one month after the application deadline.

As part of the application process, you will ask your head coach for a reference.  As you are thinking about applying, we encourage you to talk with your coach(es) about your decision to apply and any other factors you should take into consideration.  Once you are accepted into ACE, your head coach will be notified.

You are required to complete all paperwork, visa, and vaccination requirements. You must also complete all online trainings, pre-departure meetings, and ACE surveys by the posted deadlines.

No. If you remain an active NCAA varsity student-athlete in good standing, we welcome you to re-apply the next year.


You may email ACE program staff to ask how you might be able to build a better application for the future.

You may not participate in ACE and DukeEngage during the same summer. If you have participated in DukeEngage between 2011 and 2017, you are eligible to apply to ACE for summer 2018.

If you accept an offer from DukeEngage to participate in a summer 2018 group program or independent project, you are ineligible to participate in ACE in 2018. Conversely, if you accept an offer to participate in ACE for summer 2018, you are ineligible to participate in DukeEngage in 2018. Please refer to the DukeEngage website for specific eligibility and application requirements and key program dates.

If you have already done an Impact Abroad program or BOSP seminar, you are still eligible for ACE and vice versa; however, the primary challenge may be timing. Please refer to the Haas Center for Public Service or the Bing Overseas Studies Program websites for specific requirements, dates, and eligibility.

Still have questions? Contact us–we’re here to help.