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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. Student-athletes will have the opportunity to serve in areas such as coaching and physical fitness, health education outreach, education, environmental conservation, sustainable tourism, and more. Each of the programs shares a common focus of working with youth around coaching and sports enrichment in some capacity. 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.

Program dates are set well in advance and must be adhered to by student-athletes.  Each ACE program will have its own respective start and end dates that apply to participating student-athletes. The first program session starts after the Stanford Spring Quarter ends (around mid-June) and the last program session finishes before the Duke Fall Semester (around mid-August).  This enables students from Duke and Stanford to participate on program sessions together.  The specific program session dates are picked with input from the coaches and athletic department staff each year to ensure that greatest number of student-athletes can participate.

Specific departure and return dates for each group program will be announced as soon as they are known and listed on the current programs page.

Each ACE program session runs for approximately three weeks. When the ACE program was initially conceptualized, three weeks was the longest duration that coaches recommended due to training and competition requirements.  ACE does not run programs shorter than three weeks because the program values student-athletes having an immersive experience in-country.  This requires participants to have time to build relationships, learn about the community where they are living and serving, and be able to significantly contribute to community-based projects.

Training facilities vary based on location but are described in detail on the each program’s profile page. If you have further questions, you can email the program contact listed on the profile page or talk with ACE staff. While your primary purpose on the program is serve with your community partner, each program site has dedicated time in the daily schedule for training (often at the beginning or end of the day). Please be mindful that some program sites have expectations around culturally appropriate dress when exercising. You are encouraged to talk with your strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers, and sports performance coaches about what training facilities you will need and how to modify workouts if needed.  Participants are encouraged to create a training plan before departure.


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 that you plan to apply to the ACE program. 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 or position 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.

If you have applied to ACE in previous years, please do not copy your exact answers from your other application(s). While you may write about the same themes and experiences that you used in your previous application(s), we expect that you will take the time to update your responses to reflect the growth and added perspective you have developed over the past year(s).

Finally, ACE staff are 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 be to considered for any of the program location sites and can apply as early as their first-year.

From November to January, ACE will hold information sessions and meet ‘n greets. Notifications will be announced on our website and social media 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/video call. 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 the ACE experience begins is eligible to apply and participate. All participants must be in good standing at their respective university to participate.  Student-athletes must have at least one semester or quarter back on campus after they complete their ACE experience as one of the primary goals of the program is for the campus community to benefit from the shared experience of participants. 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 Zoom.

You should apply for a passport before submitting your application. You will be asked to list the date you applied for your passport on your ACE application. Acceptance into ACE is contingent upon possession of a passport valid for 6 months past the first day of classes of the next academic year. 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 consider which specific ACE program locations match your skills and interests.  Do you have the skills needed by the community partner you would be serving with? Have you demonstrated through athletic participation, coursework, and/or co-curricular activities that you will be a strong contributor? Are you a good team member of upstanding character? Come to ACE information sessions and meet ‘n greets to help inform your choices. Read more about the criteria the selection committee uses to determine which applicants are the best fit for the ACE program.

Each year, all deadlines and dates are posted 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 or position coach for a recommendation.  As you are thinking about applying, we encourage you to communicate 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. You can read more about program expectations and the pre-departure requirements on the website.

No. If you remain an active NCAA varsity student-athlete in good standing and meet all other ACE eligibility requirements, we welcome you to re-apply the next application cycle.


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 in a previous year, you are eligible to apply to ACE for an upcoming summer.

If you accept an offer from DukeEngage to participate in a group program or independent project for the upcoming summer, you are ineligible to participate in ACE in the same summer. Conversely, if you accept an offer to participate in ACE for the upcoming summer, you are ineligible to participate in DukeEngage in the same summer. 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.

Depending on the Duke University Summer Session calendar, student-athletes may be able to do both Summer Session and one of the ACE program sessions.  Given the Stanford University summer session schedule, it is unlikely that a Stanford student-athlete could do ACE and summer school in the same summer. However, student-athletes could do ACE and a shorter international program like the Overseas Seminars/Faculty-Initiated Programs offered by BOSP.

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