Investment Unlocks $12 Million Project Transforming Youth Lives

Created: 24 January, 2019
Last update: 27 July, 2022

By Ana Gomez Salcido

A coordinated investment between Mission Driven Finance, Civic San Diego, and Alliance Healthcare Foundation will provide critical funding for nonprofit Access Youth Academy’s new athletic and academic facility in Southeast San Diego.

Access, a local nonprofit organization, engages with youth through scholarship and sportsmanship to transform their lives. Seeking to grow and serve more students, Access is transforming a vacant lot in Southeast San Diego into a vibrant, inspiring athletic and academic facility.

Access Youth Academy has a unique approach to youth development through the sport of squash. Access starts working with students in seventh grade, and continues mentorship through college and two years beyond. This long-term investment of care transforms students’ lives and supports healthy choices. Not only does Access promote active lifestyles, confidence, and leadership, but it also opens doors to elite education institutions.

Many colleges, especially on the East Coast, have underused athletic scholarships for squash. By developing squash skills and academic achievement in first-generation college students, Access Youth Academy helps them qualify for scholarships at leading universities. Since 2002, Access students have earned $6.3 million in scholarships. A full 100 percent of Access alumni have graduated from high school and gotten accepted to college.

“Alliance Healthcare Foundation recognized the transformative power of Access Youth Academy in 2013 when they became our Innovation Initiative (i2) award winner. We understand the link of poverty and social determinants of health and the long-term positive network effect for the participants–and their siblings, parents, family, friends, neighborhood–of achieving a debt-free Ivy League college education through squash scholarships and the generational impact on future health and well-being in low-income neighborhoods. This was a deep investment in young members of our community in recognition of the ripple effects the Access transformational program provides,” said Elizabeth Dreicer, Alliance Healthcare Foundation’s interim executive director. “We are pleased to now also assist Access in relocating to their new home through our Program Related Investment (Impact Investment) program in partnership with Mission Driven Finance and Civic.”

This collaborative $800,000 pre-development bridge loan unlocks a $12 million project to build the new facility– to be largely financed with New Markets Tax Credits. Without this bridge financing, Access would have been unable to complete the required pre-development work in order to secure construction financing.

With this new facility, Access can reach more kids easily. Located one block north of the Market Creek plaza and just downhill from Horton Elementary School, the new building will have more connectivity to the community and public transit. For Access Youth Academy, having a dedicated building allows them to serve more first-generation college students and to earn income from the space during off-hours.