MCPS, Montgomery College and Universities at Shady Grove Announce Program to Improve College Enrollment and Completion

September 13, 2012
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) have partnered to launch the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program to create a seamless educational pathway from high school to college completion. ACES will assist thousands of students from groups that are underrepresented in higher education—including African American, Hispanic, low income or first-generation college students—to ultimately earn their baccalaureate degrees.

At a press conference at Montgomery College’s Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus, Dr. Joshua Starr, MCPS superintendent; Dr. DeRionne Pollard, Montgomery College president; and Dr. Stewart Edelstein, executive director of the Universities at Shady Grove, announced the program and signed the Memorandum of Understanding to cement the new partnership between the three educational institutions. Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin, chair of the council’s Education Committee, also spoke at the event and expressed enthusiastic support for ACES.

“By working together to provide ongoing support and strong interventions, we can provide more students with the opportunity to attend college and successfully obtain a bachelor’s degree,” said MCPS Superintendent Starr. “We look forward to working with Montgomery College and USG on improving the future for our students and for Montgomery County.”

The ACES program will begin in the 2013–2014 school year at eight MCPS high schools: Montgomery Blair, Albert Einstein, Gaithersburg, John F. Kennedy, Northwood, Rockville, Watkins Mill and Wheaton. It is expected that approximately 60 students will participate at each grade level in each school.

MCPS will identify qualifying students by grade nine and provide comprehensive interventions and support to help keep them on track for college enrollment. As students enter grade 11, they will be assigned to academic coaches from Montgomery College who will work with them and their families to create and support a college-going success trajectory.

“ACES provides a unique opportunity for our organizations to come together to help reclaim the American Dream for those students at greatest risk of failing to achieve college degrees,” said Montgomery College President Pollard. “ACES will change the lives of our students, our families, and our Montgomery County community.”

ACES students will receive coaching and academic support services while they are enrolled at Montgomery College and work toward their associate’s degrees, and then ACES coordinators at the Universities at Shady Grove will provide students with support services and guidance until they receive their bachelor’s degree.

“We are so pleased to be working in partnership to expand opportunities for students to obtain higher education degrees in our county,” said USG Executive Director Edelstein. “The future economic prosperity of Montgomery County is inextricably linked to education and to our collective efforts to ensure that all students, from all backgrounds and diverse communities, will realize their potential and dreams for a productive and meaningful life.”

While ACES is not a scholarship program, all three organizations are working with their foundations to establish scholarship funds that will benefit participants in the program. Funds will be raised from private and corporate donors.

At the press conference, Dr. Pollard also shared the news that an anonymous donor at The Community Foundation for Montgomery County is providing an initial $10,000 to seed the new ACES scholarship general fund through the Montgomery College Foundation. The donor hopes that this gift encourages dozens of other county families and businesses to do the same.

For more information about the ACES program, download the ACES Fact Sheet or visit

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Montgomery County Public Schools is the nation’s 17th largest school system, with 149,000 students. MCPS is one of the most successful large school districts in the country and has been recognized for its academic and operational excellence. In 2010, MCPS became just the sixth school district in the nation to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the highest presidential award an organization can receive.

Montgomery College is Maryland’s largest undergraduate institution of higher education—a public, open admissions community college with three campuses, workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md. The College serves nearly 60,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 130 areas of study.

The Universities at Shady Grove is an innovative model for delivering top-quality college degree programs. USG is not one university; instead it is a collaboration of nine leading public universities in Maryland offering more than 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Montgomery County. Established in 2000, USG serves more than 4,000 full- and part-time students.

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