The ACE Mentor Program of America (ACE) and AEC Unites Proudly Sign Memorandum of Understanding

Washington, DC April 10, 2024 – The ACE Mentor Program of America (ACE) and AEC Unites proudly announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry.

ACE and AEC Unites are committed to providing mentorship, resources, and opportunities specifically tailored to support the development and advancement of Black talent within the AEC pipeline. The collaboration between these two organizations marks a significant step forward in addressing the industry’s longstanding diversity challenges.

Tia Perry, Executive Director of AEC Unites, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, stating, “By uniting AEC Unites with ACE Mentor, we’re addressing the urgent challenge of the underrepresentation of Black professionals in the AEC sector. This collaboration underscores our dedication to creating access and equipping emerging talent with the necessary resources for enduring success and impactful careers in the AEC field. Through this partnership, we are strongly committed to mentorship and professional development opportunities, paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse industry.”

Diana Eidenshink, President of the ACE Mentor Program of America, echoed Perry’s sentiments, adding, “We are thrilled about partnering with AEC Unites to provide access to social capital for our alumni. We want to empower our students with resources for sustained, successful careers in the AEC industry. For 30 years, ACE Mentor Programs around the country have provided career pathways for students of color and, through this partnership, we are extending to those alumni professional development opportunities well past the traditional high school program. We look forward to working together to diversify the industry.”

The MOU outlines several key areas of collaboration, including:

  • Joint efforts to foster engagement and collaboration between the organizations.
  • Reciprocal promotion of each other’s initiatives and activities through public channels.
  • Collaboration to promote alternative pathways to AEC careers for Black students.
  • Actively recruiting mentors of color to serve as ACE Mentors.
  • Creating internship and job placement programs to cultivate a diverse talent pool.
  • Engaging with guidance counselors to provide mentorship and career guidance to students interested in AEC careers.

The collaboration also includes a range of support mechanisms, such as AEC Unites’ representation on ACE’s National DEI Committee and ACE’s representation on AEC Unites’ Talent Committee.

The signing of this MOU demonstrates that, through strategic collaboration and collective action, AEC Unites and the ACE Mentor Program of America are paving the way for a more inclusive and vibrant future.

About AEC Unites

AEC Unites is an association of business leaders, companies, and organizations devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. AEC Unites facilitates intentional opportunities for Black talent and Black-owned businesses in the AEC industry.

The architecture, engineering and construction industry in the United States employs 13 million people, or 9% of all Americans who work. AEC’s racial minority workforce is nearly half as large as the overall racial makeup of the working population would predict. Women in construction represent only one-fifth of the numbers seen in the women’s workforce. To provide robust solutions to current and future construction needs, the AEC industry needs to recruit more diverse people into its ranks.

 The AEC industry must commit to intentional strategies for recruiting, hiring, and retaining Black talent to enable opportunities for this talent to ascend and drive the industry forward.

About ACE Mentor Program

The ACE Mentor Program of America, founded in 1994, is a no-cost program that prioritizes workforce development for high school students by connecting them with experts from the design and construction industry.

ACE Mentor addresses pressing workforce needs, offers a range of exciting opportunities for students, and plays a crucial role in bridging the skills gap, with continuous mentor opportunities from high school through to full-time employment.

Statistical Profile

  • ACE currently operates over 70 affiliate programs covering 36 states, the District of Columbia, Toronto, and in more than 200 cities.
  • About 10,000 students and 4,000 mentors participate each year.
  • An estimated 2,000–2,400 ACE alumni enter the AEC workforce annually.
  • ACE gave nearly $4 million in student and alumni scholarships this past year. More than $32.5 million has been awarded in history.
  • ACE Mentor firms contribute more than $17.5 million worth of pro bono time each year.
  • 92% of ACE graduates enroll in higher education, and nearly three-quarters of them enter majors linked to the design and construction industry.
  • 41% of ACE alums entering higher education are first-generation.
  • Students come from over 1,000 high schools.
  • Almost 70% of participants are students of color, and over 40% are young women. [Construction Industry: 33% people of color, 11% women; Architecture & Engineering: 24% people of color, 26% women (2022 – US Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey]