Advocacy Center Of Excellence (ACE) Program

What Is An Advocacy Center Of Excellence?

“Our job is to teach people how to care about each other before they need health care.”
Vernita Todd
VP & CSO – San Ysidro Health

An Advocacy Center of Excellence (ACE) is a Community Health Center that creates a culture of advocacy to ensure that policymakers at all levels of government commit to investing in the affordable, equitable, and innovative care that health centers provide. ACE levels recognize consistent engagement and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to making advocacy an organizational priority. ACEs actively partner with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) on federal policy issues, as well as their state Primary Care Association (PCA) on key local-level policy issues impacting health centers and their patients. There are three ACE levels – BronzeSilver, and Gold. Each ACE designation is valid for two years.

ACE Program Information

Frequently Asked Questions About the ACE Program

Community Health Centers make up the largest network of primary care providers in America. As federal and state budget priorities shift, it is critical for health centers to rally support to promote access to the affordable, equitable, and innovative care for which they are known. By becoming an ACE, you commit to integrating advocacy into the mission and operation of your organization to ensure your health center, the patients you serve, and the community at large have a voice in critical decisions being made by policymakers. As an ACE you will also join a an exclusive nationwide network of your peers. We hold quarterly calls with all ACE affiliates to provide a networking platform for health center advocacy leaders.

There are three ACE levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Click here to download the ACE program brochure that includes a checklist of requirements for all levels and supporting resources to help you prepare your application.

To achieve Bronze status, you must complete all of the below requirements. Once completed, submit an application here to be considered for Bronze ACE certification.

Bronze ACE Requirements
Identify an advocacy coordinator at your organization
Develop an advocacy work plan
Pass an advocacy board resolution
Host a National Health Center Week (NHCW) event
Establish at least one social media account for your health center
Register at least 20% of staff and board members as advocates at HCAdvocacy.org/join
Host a meeting or tour with at least one elected official (or their staff) annually
-Can be in-person or virtual
-Can be federal, state, or local elected official

To achieve Silver or Gold status you must complete all Bronze requirements, as well as a combination of additional tasks that are outlined in the ACE program brochure. Each task is assigned a point value: 

  • To achieve Silver status, you must earn at least 40 points
  • To achieve Gold status, you must earn at least 75 points

Once you’ve completed the necessary requirements, submit an application here to be considered for Silver or Gold ACE certification.

Once you have completed  the necessary requirements, it’s time to submit your application to become an ACE!

  • Gather your supporting documents and complete the online application.
    • Apply for Bronze, Silver or Gold ACE status via the same application.
    • You must complete all Bronze requirements before being eligible to achieve Silver or Gold ACE status.
    • There is no deadline to apply. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year.
  • The NACHC Grassroots Advocacy team will review completed applications.
    • Our team will contact the submitter with any questions and/or confirm ACE approval.
    • Please allow up to one week to for us to review your ACE application.
  • ACE certifications are valid for two years.
    • You must re-apply every two years to maintain ACE status, however you may apply to upgrade to a higher level status at any time.

If you have additional questions about becoming a health center ACE, please contact Sarah Francois at sfrancois@nachc.org.

Yes! We encourage Primary Care Associations (PCAs) to join the ACE movement as a model of commitment to advancing health center advocacy in their respective states and territories. Because PCAs are unique in size and structure, they do not follow the same ACE application procedure as health centers. Our Grassroots Advocacy team works individually with PCA partners to outline an ACE plan and agreement that fits their specific advocacy goals. PCAs wishing to learn more about becoming an ACE partner should contact Susan Burton at sburton@nachc.org.