The Academy’s 40-year legacy of giving to music-related charitable causes evolved from the Academy of Country Music Charitable Foundation to the Academy of Country Music Charitable Fund in 2005, with a separate governing Board, to further its charitable endeavors. The Fund deliberately operated without fanfare for three years while building up its resources and success stories. During that time, the ACMCF privately provided grants to promote music education and healing through music. Founders of the ACMCF include John Dorris, Rod Essig, Teresa George, Gary Haber, Darrell Hammond, Mark Hartley, Gayle Holcomb, Jack Lameier, Dennis Lord, Tiffany Moon, Beth Moore, and Bob Romeo.
After a strategic planning meeting in July of 2006, it was decided that the ACMCF should have a clear brand strategy, hire a full-time staff person, and form a board of directors. The first charitable board meeting was held on March 3, 2008. In June of 2008, Erin Spahn was hired as the first full-time employee at the Academy who would be wholly devoted to the Academy’s charitable efforts. In the fall of 2008, the ACMCF underwent a branding consultation with the firm M&C SAATCHI and was repositioned as “ACM Lifting Lives.” ACM Lifting Lives was launched through publicity and marketing efforts and through the very first ACM Lifting Lives moment in the ACM Awards with Trace Adkins and the West Point Glee Club in April 2009. The ACM Lifting Lives board, the ACM board and the ACM staff work together to ensure the ongoing success and growth of the Academy’s charitable arm, as the Academy has concluded that ACM Lifting Lives is at the very heart of the Academy of Country Music’s identity.