gtk-access-youthThe Access Youth Academy is a special place – it believes in transforming young lives. They invest in youth from San Diego’s poorest neighborhoods from the seventh grade through high school and college. They are committed to giving their youth the skills, inspiration and confidence to reach their full potential. They promise to help their students become the leaders of tomorrow and help them attend some of the best colleges and universities anywhere.

In partnership with UCSD’s Preuss School, Access Youth Academy accomplishes their mission through three strategies: academic enrichment, community service and leadership through squash. They work with 40 students per year, 10 per class, and the first class graduated last year. All 10 students that graduated from the program are attending four year colleges, including Amherst, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania.

The impact of Access can probably be best understood in the words of Reyna Pacheco, a Preuss School graduate, who is playing #1 on the Columbia squash team as a freshman:

“Access was the spark that lit the fire inside me that was left untouched due to lack of faith, lack of bravery and lack of support. What the program taught me goes way beyond classroom and Squash Court walls, it has helped shaped my vision and the kind of individual I want to be.”

Reyna is the recipient of a Gates Foundation Scholarship that pays for her college and graduate school. One of her long term goals is to return to San Diego and to play a leadership role in the Academy teaching others. Reyna was part of the group that represented the United States in requesting that squash be selected as an Olympic sport. If that happens, her goal is to represent America in the Olympics.

Reyna is just one example of a young life that was transformed through the Access Youth Academy. The 10 seniors who will graduate in June have all been accepted in 4 year colleges. The program has been such a success that some of the students are being actively sought by multiple schools!

We invite you to learn more about the Access Youth Academy, to meet our remarkable students and see how you can support this amazing organization.