The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Awareness Foundation informs the community about the role of emotional trauma in mental, physical, and behavioral health, and implements innovative models that provide sustainable solutions to reducing toxic stress in family systemsView our brochure (PDF)

Founded in 2016, the Foundation administers the ACE Task Force of Shelby County and the Universal Parenting Places (UPP). The Foundation is also pioneering ACE curriculum development with the University of Memphis, is leading the county’s first ACE Aware Community Partnership Initiative training program, and was the catalyst for the State of Tennessee’s “Building Strong Brains” initiative.


The actions of the Foundation are in strategic response to science proving that “toxic stress” caused by chronic exposure to traumatic events in childhood is at the root of many poor adult outcomes.

At the heart of this research is the groundbreaking “ACE Study,” conducted by Drs. Vince Fellitti and Robert F. Anda from 1995 to 1997, which shows that traumatic childhood experiences literally change the composition of the brain, often resulting in violence, aggression, addiction, depression, and chronic diseases.

The study was the largest investigation ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. It offers proof that traumatic events and their associated outcomes may affect anyone — regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, educational attainment and other factors.


In Tennessee, social service models receive more than $800 million in taxpayer funds each year, mostly supporting reactionary interventions, with modest results. Even in the face of scientific evidence to the contrary, government dollars are rarely utilized to fund preventive social service models.

In Memphis, the Foundation sought to measure the prevalence and impact of toxic stress on the health and well-being of their community, and commissioned its own ACE Study in Shelby County in 2014.

The findings among 1,500 Shelby County residents surveyed were notable, including that 52% experienced at least one adverse childhood experience. Moreover, surveyed adults of all races and ethnicities reported having experienced these early childhood traumas.


Armed with national and local data, and an appreciation that parents are the key to preventing many adverse childhood experiences, our ACE Task Force proposed a long-term, preventive and sustainable approach that reaches ALL families through Universal Parenting Places, as well as a corresponding state-wide community awareness campaign.


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