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When we look back on the history of ACE, we are grateful for the support of our donors, David Rubenstein and Peter and Helen Bing; the Duke and Stanford Athletics Departments; our community partners; and our ACE student-athlete participants who have all contributed to the success of the ACE program. Below are significant program milestones starting with the program’s creation in 2015.

man running on field


  • Stanford University hosts the Duke Board of Trustees and as a result of the meeting, the Duke and Stanford Athletic Departments identify a challenge faced by both athletic departments – student-athletes are limited in their ability to participate in experiential, off-campus programs.
  • Duke and Stanford Athletics commit together to the development of a large-scale, fully-funded civic engagement and public service program for varsity student-athletes.
  • David Rubenstein gives an initial gift to Duke Athletics, and Stanford receives financial support from Peter and Helen Bing for the program. Duke Athletics also designates that $1 from every ticket sold will support ACE. Together, this provides funding for the program and the Duke and Stanford Athletics announce the creation of the Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement Program (known as “ACE”).
  • Duke and Stanford Athletics ask DukeEngage at Duke and the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford to join as collaborative partners to develop and support the initial launch of the ACE program.



  • The two institutions hire Emily Durham as the inaugural ACE Program Director and establish the headquarters of the program at Duke.
  • Stanford University campus hosts first in-person ACE Advisory Board Meeting.
  • ACE announces four three-week long group international service programs for Summer 2016 – China, India, South Africa and Vietnam – and fully-funding 40 Duke and Stanford student-athletes.



  • Each campus hosts first pACE (preparing for ACE) pre-departure meetings to prepare ACE student-athlete participants for their upcoming immersive service experiences.
  • ACE completes its first program summer, running four three-week long international service programs in China, India, South Africa, and Vietnam for 40 student-athlete participants representing 14 Duke and 13 Stanford athletic teams.
  • ACE launches Ambassador Program for returning ACE alumni to continue engagement leadership.



  • ACE develops set of guiding program values in collaboration with the Advisory Board, current ACE participants, and ACE alumni.
  • ACE increases representation of teams in the 2017 accepted student group to 15 at Duke and 20 at Stanford.
  • NCAA Champions Magazine features ACE in the summer edition, applauding the program for being ahead of the curve in offering collaborative, immersive-service experiences for student-athletes.
  • New ACE website launches.



  • ACE increases representation of teams in the 2018 accepted student group to 18 at Duke and 23 at Stanford and also surpasses 100+ student-athlete participants.
  • Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service honors 12 ACE student-athlete participants in its first annual Cardinal Commitment program, a service-oriented program where students commit to three quarters of public service through a Stanford program, community organization, or student organization.
  • “Blue Devil 360,” Duke Athletics’ podcast, releases first episode of a four-part series highlighting each of ACE’s four programs.
  • ACE hires first Stanford ACE student assistant, ACE in Vietnam 2016 alum Rachel Reichenbach.
  • For the first time, two members of Duke and Stanford’s Athletic Departments, Jacki Silar (Duke) and Kristen Azevedo (Stanford), travel to a program site, visiting the ACE in India team.
  • ACE in China Alum ’16, Tanner Johnson, receives a Fulbright ETA to Spain.



  • A year-long strategic planning process culminates with the ACE Game Plan 2023: a four year strategic plan developed through stakeholder input to guide the next four years of the ACE program.
  • ACE in Peru program rotates in for India program for Summer 2019 to fulfill strategic plan goal of adding a Spanish-speaking and environmentally focused program, the launch of the Peru program for summer 2019 marks the first time the ACE program line-up changes since the program’s inception in 2016.
  • ACE increases representation of teams in the 2019 accepted student group to 20 at Duke and 26 at Stanford.
  • ACE participants vote on the first annual summer photo theme connecting all four program locations – through photography and captions #HandsIn demonstrates how “hands connect us through teamwork and sports.”
  • ACE in Vietnam Alum ’16, Rachel Reichenbach, receives Fulbright research grant to Vietnam.


man using hammer on wooden pole


  • ACE announces a new program in Thailand for Summer 2020 which will run in place of ACE in China.
  • ACE increases representation of teams in the 2020 accepted student group to 22 at Duke and 29 at Stanford.
  • ACE hires first full-time permanent Program Coordinator, Sean Tate, ACE in South Africa 2017 alum, to support the essential work of ACE and assist with the growth of the program.
  • ACE celebrates 5 years of service around the world. During the past five years, almost 200 student-athlete participants have contributed more than 13,800 service hours to their host communities and organizations in five countries.
  • After COVID-19 leads to the cancellation of international travel, ACE develops “ACE in Place” – an optional five-week online engagement experience for our 2020 accepted student-athletes. ACE in Place provides 34 participants with the opportunity to join the ACE community and prepare for future engagement experiences along with 11 Peer Ambassador Leaders representing 26 Duke and Stanford teams.
  • ACE in China Alum ’17, Max St. George formerly of Duke Men’s Swimming and Diving, receives a Fulbright ETA grant to Malaysia.
  • Given the virtual environment for the fall 2020 academic year, the re-vamped ACE Ambassador program launches to provide a greater sense of community between Duke and Stanford ACE Ambassadors and students are organized in community-driven squad teams.


people holding up food on zoom group screenshot


  • Six ACE Ambassadors took part in two virtual service program prototypes during the winter focused on working with partners in South Africa and Vietnam. The Ambassadors paved the way for the development of Summer 2022 ACE in Place programs.
  • ACE offers five virtual service programs focused on supporting community-based organizations located in Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam for 30 Duke and Stanford student-athletes representing 18 different sports teams. Virtual programs allowed ACE the opportunity to continue to offer impactful summer service experiences for Duke and Stanford student-athletes in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of five programs, ACE student-athletes contributed over 1,440 hours of service.
  • Nina King, ACE Advisory Board Member and instrumental in establishing the ACE program, becomes the first female Duke Athletic Director.
  • ACE in Vietnam ’19 alum, Maddy Price formerly of Duke Women’s Track & Field, competes for the Canadian Olympic Track and Field Team in the Summer 2021 Toyoko Olympics.



  • NC PACE Civic Engagement selects ACE and long-time community partner for the ACE in Vietnam program, Coach for College, to present collaboratively as part of the 2022 conference special track on virtual engagement.
  • ACE returns to in-person programming with a new US-based program in Colorado. ACE offers four virtual programs supporting community-based organizations in Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam. During ACE 2022 summer programs, Twenty-two Duke and Stanford student-athletes participate representing 17 different sports teams and contributing over 950 hours of service. Pre-program preparation and back-on campus programming return to fully in-person on each campus.
  • The ACE Ambassador program provides a leadership pathway for ACE alums to engage in leadership and personal development opportunities throughout the year. The Ambassador team meets virtually to provide an avenue for Duke and Stanford students to engage together, while on-campus squads meet to offer in-person conversations and dialog.


group of people in green and blue shirts taking selfie in circle


  • The “ACE Support Team” launches deepening collaborations between Duke and Stanford Athletics. Athletics personnel in key areas that support student-athletes in their competitive life such as sports performance, nutrition, compliance, marketing, etc. work hand-in-hand with ACE staff to offer resources to student-athletes during their ACE experience.
  • ACE returns to in-person, international programming after a three-year hiatus due to Covid travel restrictions. Locations include Vietnam, South Africa, and for the first time ever, Costa Rica. ACE continues to offer one virtual program, ACE in Place Thailand. 19 Duke and 21 Stanford student-athletes participate representing 9 Duke and 15 Stanford teams and contributing over 4,260 hours of service. Duke Athletics and Stanford Athletics administrative staff conduct summer site visits to Costa Rica and South Africa.
  • Stanford Athletics announces a pause in their participation in the ACE program for Summer 2024 due to challenges related to NCAA conference realignment. As a result, ACE is rebranded as the Rubenstein Student-Athlete Civic Engagement (ACE) program and will continue as a Duke-only program for Summer 2024. This decision provides Duke student-athletes with a greater diversity of program options including a new, a one-week May program.