Our Origin Story

Our Executive Director, Greg Lippman, co-founded the 1st charter school in Silicon Valley.

ACE’s Founding Executive Director Greg Lippman began his career as a teacher at a local public high school in San Jose, where he taught for over 4 years. During that time, he was part of a group of teachers who built a successful school within a school for the highest-need students, but, due to the bureaucratic limitations of the system, was unable to grow that program. This led him to explore the charter school model, and eventually become the founding Principal at Downtown College Prep (DCP), the first charter school in Silicon Valley.

At DCP’s first graduation, Greg was able to celebrate the fact that 100% of the first class of graduates were going to college, but at the same time was forced to reflect on the fact that there were many students who, for a lot of different reasons, didn’t make it to graduation.

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ACE was founded to serve the most struggling students.

At that point, Greg committed to building another charter organization focused on the types of students who were failing, even at great schools like DCP. He wanted to build something that was more specifically for those that struggle academically, those that lack the personal momentum or family support to succeed.

When Greg first came to ACE, it was a different organization: the ACE Public School Network, which was started by a group of community organizers and parent leaders from the organization PACT (People Acting in Community Together). PACT had started an organizing movement in East San Jose around quality public schools that eventually led to the opening of several small District schools where principals and families were given the power to design their own schools from the ground up.

However, political considerations threatened the success of those schools, and Greg, along with Susan Hammer (former mayor of San Jose), founded ACE Charter Schools to build on the community movement that the first ACE had started, and to create charter schools specifically designed for the most marginalized students and families in San Jose.

In 2008, the first ACE school opened with 95 5th and 6th graders; in 2017, the first class of ACE high school alumni headed off to college.

ACE Charter Schools has grown by leaps and bounds since opening in 2008, and now numbers four schools (three middle and one high) with over 1,200 students and over 100 alumni in college.

“Getting my college acceptance was the best moment of my life.”

- Luis Zamora ‘16, CSU East Bay

  • 2008

    The first ACE school opens

    ACE Charter Middle School opens in the Mayfair neighborhood of East San Jose with 95 5th and 6th graders, 4 teachers, 3 admin staff

  • 2009

    2nd Highest State Test Jump of any California public school

    127 point jump on the Academic Performance Index (API) over the previous year

  • 2012

    1st ACE High School Opens with 100 9th Graders

    • ACE Empower Academy (the first ACE middle school) opens a permanent campus, supported by $1M from the San Jose Redevelopment Agency
    • #2 in Algebra, #4 in Science
      • ACE 8th Graders show remarkable achievement among comparable schools statewide.
  • 2013

    #1 for Latino Algebra Proficiency for English Learners

    • ACE becomes #5 among ALL Silicon Valley schools in Latino Algebra Proficiency and ranks #1 for schools serving high numbers of English Learners.
  • 2014

    ACE Network Continues to Grow: Two New ACE Middle Schools open in East San Jose

  • 2016

    First class graduates from ACE Charter High School: 98% of first class meets UC/CSU
    A-G requirements

    ACE Inspire Academy starts with 100 students grades 5 & 6.

  • 2017 and Beyond

    ACE to grow to over 2,000 students and alumni from downtown and East San Jose

    • ACE looks to disseminate model/focus on highest-need students and families nationally

“Being the first one to graduate from high school, being the first one to actually go to college, it’s something big.”

- Luis Rodriguez, ACE Graduate

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