Young migrant student public speaking.

A high school student practices public speaking in front of an audience of his peers during the Third Space Youth Institute

An Interactive Learning Experience

Since 2019, the USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking has hosted more than 700 high school students in our signature summer program, the Third Space Youth Institute. During the program, students learn the essential soft skills required to succeed in college and the workplace. The Center has partnered with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, Riverside County Office of Education, the Compton Unified School District, the Butte County Office of Education, Wallis Annenberg High School, and Hybrid High School to create online and on-campus programs for underserved youths. We look forward to introducing more students from California and beyond to this life-changing program.

Interactive workshops are led by USC faculty and expert instructors and include topics such as soft skills problem-solving, college readiness, career development, building presentation skills, and personal branding. Students learn the ACE-IT toolkit for problem-solving and work together in teams to develop presentations on important issues like homelessness, climate change, and the importance of voting to the democratic process.

“Our program equips students with the essential soft skills needed to embrace new ideas, leverage diversity, build self-confidence, and visualize success," said Shellee Smith. “We’re excited about educating migrant students and giving them a leading edge in their future endeavors.”

How to Succeed with ACE-IT

During the program, students were introduced to the Third Space ACE-IT methodology which is a communication tool used to frame and solve problems.  ACE-IT stands for:


Cultural Competency


Intellectual Curiosity

360 Degree Thinking

Many students noted the fundamentals of the ACE-IT methodology as a key takeaway:

"What I'm most excited to share about my experience is that I can use the ACE-IT method to tackle any situation." – Alexis Godinez, Antelope Valley High School.

Students listen and watch attentively as their peers present group projects at the 2019 Third Space Youth Institute (TSYI)

Our workshops

In addition to lessons covering our ACE-IT methodology, students also engaged in a variety of other workshops including:

Meeting with USC College Advisors

Personal Branding

Presentation Skills and Networking

Digital Storytelling and AI

Careers in Media

Equipped with the knowledge and resources provided by Annenberg faculty, working professionals, and their own peers, these students have gained the tools to empower themselves to succeed in college and beyond by leveraging the Third Space soft skills in their lives and their communities.

“I know these students will go back to their communities and they will make change,” said Myra Sanchez, Director of Migrant Education in Riverside County. “I look forward to continuing this collaboration and exposing more students to this type of learning.”


  • 360-Degree Thinking: I absolutely love that concept because it allows us to grow our mindset. A lot of students in our community feel like since they are immigrants, they don't have a future. They don't have success. But that’s not the answer. With 360-Degree Thinking, they become curious. They want to ask questions and become ambitious for the [potential] of their future.

    Denisse Tafolla – Arroyo High School

  • I love the fact that the students are empowered to engage in communication and talk about things that are affecting their communities. I like that they are empowered to be more confident and that they are given the ability to use communication as a tool. I have been very impressed with the growth I have seen in the students.

    Myra Sanchez, Director of the Migrant Education Program for Region 7 – Riverside County Office of Education

  • Coming into this environment there is a huge support system. There are Latino mentors that I can look to and that there are other people looking to achieve the same goals and that it’s something attainable for me.

    Lizbeth Luevano – La Quinta High School

  • ACE-IT is very good because we’ve always had that as Latinos, or any other race, we all have that 360 mindset, but we don’t really know how to use it. So learning ACE-IT is really helpful for the future.

    America Garcia – Simon Rodia High School

  • It was definitely eye-opening because he told us that it was important to get ourselves out there, and that we matter. That a great way of connecting with others and having connections is just simply getting up after a guest speaker has presented, and presenting yourself to them; they will open up opportunities that you may not have had beforehand.

    David Diaz Garcia – Rosemead High School

Stay tuned. This is just the beginning of a new, exciting venture.

About The Center for Third Space Thinking

To learn more about the USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking, click here.