Assertive Community Engagement & Success (ACES)

The Intervention: Comprehensive multiyear program for youth and young adults who have not been well served by more traditional programming

Who is Served: Young men aged 16-24 who are disconnected from school, unemployed or underemployed, impacted by the criminal legal system, and are unwilling, unready, and/or ineligible to participate in more traditional services

The Program

Assertive Community Engagement & Success (ACES) is a multiyear CASES program that provides therapeutic, education, and employment services to young people who are identified in their communities as being at risk for involvement in the criminal legal system. Using a research-backed intervention model, ACES identifies young men who are resistant to engagement and uses persistent outreach, tailored programming, and collaboration with community partners to help young men transform their lives through meaningful relationships, skill building, and opportunities for success.

The ACES Approach

Engagement: Intake assessments are completed and staff obtain vital documents. Participants have 3 brief in-person meetings a week with a staff member. Staff incorporate informal therapeutic techniques, and pursue engagement activities like group work if appropriate. Participants are invited to at least 2 peace circles. Family Specialists and Team Leaders engage participant families in assessing needs.

Readiness for Change & Skill Building: Participants can engage in employment-readiness programming, including paid work opportunities while engaging in on site workshops. Participants can also engage in on site education services, including high school equivalency classes (HSE) and vocational training. Those in need of additional education support are referred to an individual education counseling session. CASES education services can assist in reconnection and transfers to public school, placements at literacy or HSE programs, or guidance in applying to college.

Demonstrating & Sustaining Change: In this phase, the ACES team increases frequency of programming. Staff support participants who are, at this stage, enrolled in school, vocational training, or are employed.

Independence & Success: Frequency of programming decreases; however, ACES staff continue to follow up with support in order to advance success and independence. Participants achieve personal goals, such as graduation, and have the opportunity to engage in alumni services.


Read more from youth mentors about why ACES works.