For over 50 years, Access Inc. has been serving the most vulnerable and under-served populations in San Diego County by promoting self-sufficiency and economic independence. There are three main programs at Access: Youth, Immigration and Microenterprise—all of which provide services that come from a heart of compassion and commitment.
In the youth category, you’ll find an Access program that strives to help “at-promise” out of school youth ages 16-24 (opportunity youth) to further their educational and vocational goals through internships and employment. Funded by the San Diego Workforce Partnership, career exploration is encouraged, and things like career coaching, mentorship and paid work experience are offered to youth.
“Many of the youth we work with have had interruptions in their high school career,” says Roshawn Brady, Access Senior Vice President. “We see youth forced to make school less of a priority due to parenting, becoming justice-involved or being trauma-informed.”
Access works with youth on a case by case basis and instead of pressuring them to finish school, case managers take a step back and assess the individual’s overall goal—what pathways work best for this person? “Before enrollment, we talk, we listen,” says Brady. “Yes, we have program goals, but none of that means anything if we’re not working on the plan with each individual according to their unique situation.”
In another collaboration with the Workforce Partnership, Access provides direct services through the San Pasqual Academy YES Program. The work experience and internship component aims to improve the outcomes for students as they transition off campus and into self-sufficiency.
“We’re like the ivy that keeps on growing,” says Brady.
Once Access identifies where a young person is meant to go, they identify pathways and make connections to provide a support system for youth. “We’re not stingy with our cases and our people,” says Roshawn. “If someone needs something, we can share space and resources to help that individual.”
Most recently, Access deepened its partnership with the Workforce Partnership by becoming an integral part of CONNECT2Career’s Live Well Internships. This year’s program is focused on helping the County of San Diego develop a pipeline of local talent for its upcoming Southeastern San Diego Live Well Center.
“Access continues to find innovative ways to reach out to youth and provide resources,” says Sara Fox, youth program manager at the Workforce Partnership. “It’s amazing to see young people put on a path to set and reach their educational and career goals.”
As a member of the OpportunitySD planning committee, Roshawn looks forward to attending this year’s Opportunity Summit on May 2 at Town and Country. “We’ve supported the event for the last two years and we’re proud to grow with it.” To network with Access and other community partners working to serve opportunity youth, reserve your seat before April 18.