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About the Academy of Arts and Civic Engagement

At the Academy of Arts and Civic Engagement (ACE), we offer a truly unique immersive learning experience for students interested in the arts. As one of HCZ’s three after-school programs for Harlem students age 14 to 21, ACE unlocks a learning pathway based on a student’s chosen focus area. From there, the structure exposes students to industry experts, real-world relevant projects, and internship and networking opportunities. ACE also offers a range of additional services to help ensure students excel in their academic careers and beyond.

ACE Focus Areas

ACE students select a focus from one of five arts areas:

  • Vocal Performance: With Broadway and music industry professionals as teachers, students benefit from their technical expertise and industry insights. In small groups or as individuals, students explore everything from breathing and scales to performance endurance.
  • Instrumental Music: Students can deepen their skill in most any instrument, from drums to piano and more. They also learn the art of making music in our state-of-the-art recording studio.
  • Fashion Art: From figure drawing to construction, students learn all aspects of fashion design. Through a partnership with Harlem Fashion Row, students are matched with a professional mentor who provides technical expertise and industry knowledge.
  • Dance: In our premier dance studio, students learn the technical skills and artistry of various dance forms, from majorette to ballet.
  • Theater: Our theater program exposes students to a breadth of theatrical tools and performance skills, from the basics of improv to the projection and presence required for musicals.
A teen boy sings into a microphone in a recording booth.

Students can record and mix their own music in the after school studios.

Four-Year Program Structure

ACE is designed to replicate certain aspects of the college experience. Once students select a focus area, they embark on ACE’s four-year program structure.

Year 1: Education

Students learn core knowledge and technical applications of their focus area to achieve competence and become competitive career candidates.

Year 2: On the Stage

Students spend a year partnered with a specialist instructor in an independent study project that has real-world relevance and application.

Year 3: Co-Teaching

To demonstrate mastery, students lead underclassmen project teams. They are also now permitted to generate and execute projects on their own.

Year 4: Career Immersion

With our help, students are placed in an internship or mentorship that allows them to apply skills and nurture professional contacts.

Additional Support and Services

ACE empowers students to explore a passion and gain career-ready experience while they continue their traditional academic pursuits. We also offer additional, holistic supports to students to help ensure they can excel in their learning endeavors.


Leveraging school, family, and community resources, we do whatever it takes to make sure all of our students’ needs are met such that they are positioned for success.

Academic Support

We offer a wide range of educational interventions, including but not limited to:

SAT prep
Regents prep
One-on-one or small group tutoring
IEP supports, coordinating with school educators as needed

College and Career Readiness Services

In addition to nurturing the social-emotional skills that colleges require and employers demand, we also offer practical guidance to students as they apply for and prepare for college, including:

  • Personal statement support
  • HCZ scholarships to graduating high school students
  • Resume writing
  • Career development courses
  • Parent college advising and supports
  • Financial aid assistance
  • College visits, sponsored by HCZ
  • Summer college exposure opportunities, sponsored by HCZ

Health and Wellness

Fitness and nutrition courses are regularly available to ACE students and their families. Health educators also work alongside each student to tailor wellness learning.

Location and Hours

Find Us: 25111 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10030

Monday – Friday: 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.


Interested in learning more about ACE? We’re here to help.

A student sits in front of a piano keyboard and a computer editing recorded music as a classmate looks on.

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