Adoption: Partner Life Cycle


Partnering with ACE is a process—not just an event or a set of curriculum. It begins with your interest and the needs of your local student community. From there we determine if College and ACE resources are available to fulfill the program deliverables. The details of the process are outlined in our “ACE Partner Life Cycle” diagram below. 

There are two components to the cycle diagram: “phases” (vertical columns) and “tracks” (horizontal bars). Metaphorically, each phase is akin to an academic “semester”, although in practice a phase may be shorter or longer than a semester. 

In contrast, the tracks run across the phases (e.g., Curriculum, Scheduling, Development, etc.) Continuing the academic metaphor, these tracks are like the “course sequences” specified for certain subject areas (e.g., a hypothetical Math track requires you to take Math 100 then Math 200 and so on.) Note: not all tracks require work during each phase.

Because a college can move through each track at their own pace, it is possible to be engaged in multiple phases at one time. This process can happen very quickly or very slowly depending on the level of resources and the level of need. We at ACE are willing and available to work at whatever pace is appropriate for your school, within the constraints of ACE resources.


Phase 1: Discovery

This first Phase is where the College learns about the ACE programs and what it will take to implement. The following outlines the steps in Phase 1:

Requirements to move to the next phase: 
Partner Application submitted by College


 Phase 2: Due Diligence

Once the mutual decision has been made to pursue partnership, a college moves into Phase 2: Due Diligence. This phase goes deeper into the inquiry of how well a college and ACE partnership might work. This phase is an exploration to see that the college is prepared to do what is necessary to lay the foundation for the new program to ensure successful implementation. The steps in Phase 2 are:

  • Based on Partner Application, conduct Readiness Assessment discussions (organization, sponsors, critical stakeholders)
  • Build Business Case together
    • What is the cost vs. benefit for the College (why ACE vs. other possible programs?)
    • What is the cost vs. benefit for ACE (strategic value of this College vs. others)

Requirements to move to the next phase:

We both agree:

  1. Readiness Assessment shows College is ready to go and
  2. Business Case shows costs are outweighed by benefits.

Note: if a college is not ready to move forward, the Director of College Partnerships will discuss options of how to proceed with the applicant.


Phase 3: Commitment

In the third phase, both parties decide whether this is a fit and commit to working together. Phase 3 steps include:

  • College develops sponsorship & stakeholder support for implementing ACE
  • College demonstrates it fully understands what it takes to implement & institutionalize ACE
  • ACE reviews competing applications for partnership & selects partners to fill available slots

Requirements to move to the next phase:
Memorandum of Understanding signed by both parties


Phase 4: Transition Planning

As the name implies, this phase is about getting ready to begin implementing ACE programs at the college. The steps are as follows:

  • College & ACE announce partnership publicly to all stakeholders
  • College & ACE assign resources to joint Transition Team
  • College & ACE leaders form Steering Committee
  • Transition Team plans implementation & institutionalization, including training calendar, major meetings, recruiting, etc.
  • College members attend training sessions

Requirements to move to the next phase:

  • Transition Plan is approved by Steering Committee
  • Resources needed by Transition Plan are committed by college & ACE


Phase 5: Implementation

Often the most exciting of the phases, by the end of this phase students actually begin to register for the ACE program courses. Implementation requires many resources and much planning, so to be at this phase symbolizes that a lot of hard work has already occurred. And the work of transforming students’ lives is just beginning. Phase 5 steps are:

  • College approves curriculum (on either an interim or permanent basis)
  • College schedules courses, faculty, rooms
  • College/ACE assign resources to implement Transition Plan
  • College members attend training sessions
  • College recruits students

Requirements to move to the next phase:

  • First ACE cohort filled
  • Faculty trained to deliver ACE-related courses


Phase 6: Live Cohorts

Phase 6 is also a very exciting part of this process. Students and faculty alike now belong to a new community that is committed to making the world a better place, one student at a time. Phase 6 steps include:

  • First cohort(s) begin
  • Faculty & staff join ACE communities
  • Faculty & staff evaluate how implementation worked & what needs to be improved
  • College schedules next semester courses
  • College recruits students for next cohort
  • College drafts Scaling Plan to achieve the target number of cohorts

Requirements to move to the next phase:

  • First cohort(s) complete Foundation Course & Bridge Semester
  • Scaling plan approved 


Phase 7: Scaling

Phase 7 begins when the program is successfully operating at a college. This phase represents the intention to grow the program at a college, and requires additional resources. Phase 7 steps are:

  • College sends additional faculty to training to support additional cohorts
  • College considers becoming an Anchor College (hosts training sessions and other resources)
  • College sends Master Mentors for training
  • College drafts Institutionalization Plan

Requirements to move to the next phase:
Institutionalization plan approved by college administration


Phase 8: Institutionalization

Phase 8 marks the transition from ACE involvement to a college operating the program on their own. Institutionalization means:

  • Any start-up responsibilities are transferred from ACE to college
  • Cohorts are operating without transitional or temporary funding

Requirements to move to the next phase:
College is running their program with only steady-state ACE support


Phase 9: Steady State

Phase 9 is the completion of the cycle. Once a college reaches this phase, all ACE operations at the college have been smoothly and completely integrated into the college operations. Now the partnership between ACE and the college evolves to one of innovation, expansion and ongoing support. Phase 9 steps are:
College is a full contributing member of the ACE Community 
College contributes to curriculum innovation
College faculty are teaching faculty of other colleges

Curriculum Track (CUR):

The Curriculum Track involves the selection and mapping of ACE courses & curriculum requirements into new or existing courses at the college. This track also necessitates the movement of individual courses through the college’s curriculum development & approval process.   

Scheduling Track (SCH):

This track entails planning the schedule of specific classes for each cohort offered in a semester. The Scheduling Track also takes into account marketing factors (which classes will be desired by each student segment), faculty schedules and availability of classrooms and other resources.  

Development Track (DEV):

Development is the training & certification of faculty, administrators and staff in order to operate ACE cohorts at their college. 

Recruiting Track (REC):

This critical track begins with a college deciding their overall recruiting strategy.  Executing this strategy includes the tasks of raising awareness of the ACE program with prospective students, helping eligible students to enroll and complete intake process.  The track also includes identification of special needs or issues that might impact a student’s ability to complete the program.  

Stakeholder Management Track (STK):

This track involves working to elicit the support of important stakeholder groups for ACE implementation at the college.  Stakeholders may include faculty, staff, unions, senior college leaders & administrators, internal & external funding sources, community groups, local government agencies.

For more information about or to begin the partnership process, please complete the Partner Application and email it to Beth Nelson at