Alliance for Choice in Education
PO Box 3830
Kansas City MO 66103
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (303) 573-1603
Mission Statement
To provide children of low-income families with scholarships to private schools in grades K-12, and to advocate for expanded school choice. Our vision is that all children have access to a quality education. 
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Norton Rainey
Board Chair Mr. Geoff Bailey
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2000
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement
To provide children of low-income families with scholarships to private schools in grades K-12, and to advocate for expanded school choice. Our vision is that all children have access to a quality education. 
Background Statement
ACE Scholarships was founded in 2000 to provide equal access to quality schools for low-income children. ACE has a direct impact on these children by providing scholarships to the private school of their choice. For 17 years, ACE scholars have consistently attained higher graduation rates, ACT scores, and college matriculation rates than their low-income peers, providing evidence that once empowered to choose the educational setting that is best for them, any child can succeed.
Since 2000, ACE has expanded into six states including Montana, Wyoming, Louisiana, Texas, and Kansas, and has provided 23,223 scholarships worth over $52,000,000. Today, ACE serves 4,044 students. During this same 17-year period, ACE has assembled an alliance of concerned citizens, corporations, and foundations working to level the playing field for low-income children in order to achieve system-wide school reform.
ACE expanded into Kansas in 2016, and in 2017 served 41 students across six schools in Kansas City, as well as an additional 215 students across the state of Kansas. ACE is currently working to expand into the Missouri side of Kansas City.
Impact Statement
ACE Scholarships breaks the cycle of generational poverty that plagues many low-income families by providing educational alternatives to the children who need it most. ACE scholars have historically struggled in a traditional educational setting and seek alternatives. Many of our graduates are the first in their families to graduate from high school and most are the first to attend and graduate college, thus breaking the cycle in their home for years to come.
Since launching ACE Kansas in 2016, our program has served a total of 576 students throughout the rest of the states of Kansas and Missouri.
ACE’s primary and ongoing goal is to continue to expand the capacity of the scholarship program in order to support more at-risk children. Our scholarship goal is to continue funding the students currently on scholarship, while partnering with quality private schools that continue to maintain a graduation rate in the 90 percent range. In the 2018-19 school year, we have expanded our program to serve 122 students in Kansas City at 16 partner private schools, and hope to continue that growth trend into the future. 
Needs Statement
There are few quality tuition-free schools for low-income families, and far too often the public schools that serve this population struggle to meet their students’ needs.
As one might expect, this disparity of access to quality public schools (traditional and charter) for low-income families leads to lower academic achievement for the students who need it most. Indeed, throughout the country, there are approximately 1.2 million high school dropouts each year, mostly from low-income families, and the consequences are costly. It is predicted that the cost to society of these dropouts throughout their lifetimes will be more than $215 Billion.
The data are evidential of a significant achievement gap between children who come from impoverished households and children who come from families with financial stability. By empowering families with the financial resources to select the quality school of their choice, ACE Scholarships helps close the opportunity gap.
Service Categories
Scholarships & Student Financial Aid
Areas of Service
Geographic Area Served Narrative ACE Kansas and Missouri currently serves children throughout both states, with a significant focus on the greater Kansas City metro area. 
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement
Middle- and high-income families have the privilege of selecting the school that is best for their children. They can either move to school districts with high performing public schools, or pay private school tuition. However, low-income families can neither afford to move nor pay private school tuition on their own. Thus, their children are often bound to poor-performing public schools by the confines of their zip codes.
As a consequence, there is a significant achievement gap between children who come from impoverished households and children who come from families with financial stability. The goal of the ACE scholarship is to positively impact the lives of low-income students by empowering parents with the financial resources necessary to select from a wide range of quality private schools.
During the 2015-2016 school year in our home state of Colorado, 10,530 students dropped out of high school. The vast majority of these young people now face an impossible struggle, as the likelihood of finding full-time employment decreases, and the likelihood of needing government assistance increases. Thus, this struggle places a substantial financial burden on not only these individuals, but our communities as a whole.
It is estimated that a single dropout costs our society $292,000 over the course of a lifetime. So each class of dropouts costs our communities billions of dollars. If we applied the ACE graduation rate of 90+ percent to a state's student population, the number of dropouts would decrease dramatically, saving our communities billions of dollars.
ACE has proven that small, flexible, and affordable private schools within economically depressed neighborhoods can give kids a valuable and quality option. Students who once felt lost in their public schools are now thriving with higher academic performance, increased graduation and college readiness rates, and higher attendance and satisfaction rates.
Our goal is to continue placing students into the educational environment that is best for them, so we can continue reporting these sorts of significant academic outcomes.
ACE provides partial private school tuition, with a maximum of $2,000 per year for grades K-8 and $3,000 for grades 9-12. ACE also offers annual extensions, provided the student remains enrolled at an ACE partner school and ACE continues to raise the funds necessary to support its scholars. 
ACE serves children whose families qualify for the federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program ($43,568 annual income for a family of four). The median income for an ACE Kansas family of four is around $30,000. ACE scholarships are not merit-based, but rather need-based to purposefully provide alternatives to “high-risk” youth who have struggled in their assigned public schools. 
Scholarship applications are available through schools in our network and are due each April. The ACE program team confirms students’ eligibility, and allocations are approved by our Program Committee each May. Tuition payments are made directly to schools for allocation in October and January.
Category Education, General/Other Student Financial Aid
Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Short-Term Success
According to ACE’s most recent third-party research project conducted by Dr. Didi Fahey, our scholarships not only affect student behavior and academic performance, but also parent and family behavior. Our classes of 2017 and 2018 had a 100% graduation rate, and an average of 83% of our scholars receive a four year degree within six years. At the same time, ACE parents are reaping benefits from the program. For instance, while only 9% of first-year ACE parents volunteer at their child’s school, after three years with the program, that number increase to 56%. In addition, after receiving an ACE scholarship, 83.4% of our families reported eating together regularly as a family.
Because of ACE’s widespread community impact, we not only improve our students’ lives, but also entire families, neighborhoods, and communities.
Long-Term Success Our primary and ongoing goal is to continue to expand our program in order to support more at-risk children by increasing our scholarship allocations every year. Ideally, it is our hope that one day all students will have access to the quality education they deserve, regardless of income demographic.
Program Success Monitored By
In order to track the success of our program, our team works closely with our families and their schools to gather evidence that demonstrates the success of our program. We work with high school administrators and counselors to obtain an accurate graduation rate for ACE students, and ACT scores. After graduation from high school, our Alumni Director engages with our scholars to monitor success throughout college and beyond. In addition, many of our past scholars have joined the ACE Alumni Board, eager to give back to the organization.
However, above and beyond these key metrics, ACE utilizes the expertise of Dr. Didi Fahey, a quantitative researcher who continues to lead our third-party evaluation project. In her most recent report, the results indicate conclusively that ACE partner private schools are closing the achievement gap for at-risk students.
Examples of Program Success

While ACE is proud of the statistical data demonstrating our scholars’ academic success, our accomplishments are most clearly seen in the lives of our scholars, such as ACE Alum, Jorge. Like most parents, Jorge’s parents wanted the best education and opportunities as possible for him. Unfortunately, the neighborhood school Jorge and his brothers attended did not meet their needs—overcrowded classes, little discipline, and overworked teachers made learning difficult. However, that all changed when ACE stepped in and offered Jorge a scholarship to a high-performing, private elementary school. His ACE scholarship followed him into high school, and he was eventually accepted into the Colorado School of Mines. In 2016, Jorge not only became the first member of his family to graduate from high school and college, but also the first in his family to complete school beyond 10th grade.

Today, Jorge works for Liberty Oilfield Services as a petroleum engineer, splitting his time between Midland, Texas and Denver. Jorge's story demonstrates the power of ACE. He is now a contributing member of his community with a successful career, and is a positive role model for his three younger brothers, all of whom are ACE scholars as well.

Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Mr. Norton Rainey
Term Start Jan 2002
Experience As President and CEO of ACE Scholarships, Norton is responsible for oversight of the organization as a whole. During his fifteen-year tenure, ACE has grown from a budget of one million dollars serving children in one state, to more than ten million dollars and operating in six states. Norton attended the University of Colorado Boulder on a golf scholarship and started his career at the University of Colorado Foundation.
Senior Staff
Title Chief Operating Officer
Title Chief Program Officer
Title Chief Financial Officer
Paid Full-Time Staff 34
Paid Contractors 0
Volunteers 63
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Under Development
Management Succession Plan Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Geoff Bailey
Company Affiliation Retired
Term Jan 2018 to Dec 2018
Board Members
Mr. Geoff BaileyRetired
Ms. Lindsay BrownSenior Vice President, Jones Lang LaSalle
Mr. Alex CranbergAspect Energy, LLC
Ms. Susan GianforteCommunity Volunteer
Mr. Sergio GutierrezDirector, SDR Ventures, Inc.
Mr. Pete LeavellPresident, 4UR Ranch
Mr. Joe SmithPartner, Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP
Ms. Liz WrightCommunity Volunteer
Mr. Tom ZanecchiaPresident, Wealth Management Consultants, Inc.
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 8
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 5
Female 4
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 0
Written Board Selection Criteria? No
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Program / Program Planning
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2018
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2018
Projected Revenue $2,104,000
Projected Expenses $1,497,974
Form 990s
2017 ACE 990
2016 ACE 990
2015 ACE 990
2014 ACE 990
2013 ACE 990
2012 ACE 990
2011 ACE 990
2010 ACE 990
2009 ACE 990
2008 ACE 990
Audit Documents
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2017, 2016, 2015: Financial data reported using the IRS Form 990.
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$14,095,187$10,905,570$7,694,211
Administration Expense$279,978$663,579$431,956
Fundraising Expense$2,244,789$1,646,641$1,077,052
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.551.121.12
Program Expense/Total Expenses85%84%84%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$19,382,204$10,680,178$8,906,908
Current Assets$19,185,157$10,349,657$8,852,978
Long-Term Liabilities$0$330,521$0
Current Liabilities$398,090$666,609$413,850
Total Net Assets$18,984,114$10,013,569$8,493,058
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities48.1915.5321.39
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%3%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Comments ACE Scholarships continues to look for sustainable growth opportunities within current markets and/or additional markets in order to serve as many school aged kids as possible across the United States. 
Other Documents
Organization Name Alliance for Choice in Education
Address PO Box 3830
Kansas City, MO 66103
Primary Phone (303) 573-1603
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Norton Rainey
Board Chair Mr. Geoff Bailey
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired
Year of Incorporation 2000