About Us

ACES is a California nonprofit corporation operated by a board of members who each have a professional and/or personal interest in ability-centered education and the school-to-adulthood transition. ACES was founded by Rachel De Bruin who has worked in special education for over 20  years. From early in her career, Rachel often felt frustrated by a special education system that was disability and deficit-centric - that is, students' disabilities, inabilities, and weaknesses consumed most of the educational focus while student abilities and interests were generally ignored. Yet, in her experience and research, Rachel found that ability-centered education and transition planning have the greatest potential to launch students into successful and meaningful postsecondary life outcomes. As a result, Rachel has devoted her career to researching, building, and promoting legally defensible and effective transition systems.

Philosophy & Mission

At ACES, we believe every person has a unique VESA - values, experiences, skills, & abilities - that make them an "ace" at something. When adults are working in careers and living out life goals that align with their VESA, their personal fulfillment and community contribution are maximized. In order for this alignment to occur, we believe that student abilities (rather than inabilities, disabilities, deficits, or weaknesses) must be the driving force behind secondary education. In addition to this ability-centered approach to education, we believe that it takes a school-wide system, integrated with community partnerships, to effectively transition youth into meaningful postsecondary life outcomes. As a result of these beliefs, ACES's mission is to partner with families, schools, and the community for the provision of ability-centered education, guidance, support services, work experiences, and community engagement to support the most significant transition of one's life.