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REACH Program Inspires Students  

The University of La Verne’s REACH/Fleischer program, continues to make a significant impact, empowering students to pursue higher education and entrepreneurial endeavors with confidence.  

Now in its eighteenth year, the annual three-week residential program led by Management Professor Issam Ghazzawi is designed to make college accessible, particularly to those who would be the first in their families to attend college. This year’s program, held from June 2 to June 22, served 44 high school juniors, providing them with an immersive experience in college life, academic learning, and business skills. Thanks to the generosity of Morton Fleischer, the Pomona Unified School District, and other donors, the program, including meals and lodging, was provided at no cost to the participants. 

Ghazzawi says each cohort has a transformational experience, achieving goals and overcoming challenges they might not have thought possible prior. 

“They reinvent themselves and emerge brand new,” said Ghazzawi. 

This year, the program featured a welcome keynote speech from Elizabeth Eminhizer, superintendent of the Covina Valley Unified School District. Over the course of the program, students attended classes taught by University of La Verne faculty, covering subjects such as management, marketing, economics, accounting, finance, business website creation, success skills, entrepreneurship, teamwork, and environmental sustainability. They also benefited from guest speakers from prominent organizations, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Three Valleys Water District, Sam’s Club, the Lemonade Game, the Fleischer Scholarship, the Small Business Development Center, Clifton Larson Allen LLP “CLA”, Deloitte, and Southern California Edison. 

Beyond academics, the REACH program offers valuable insights into college admissions and financial aid processes. Members of the University of La Verne Enactus club served as counselors and mentors, guiding students through the program. 

A highlight of the program was the business plan competition. Students were divided into eight groups, each developing a comprehensive business plan that included leasing premises, obtaining licenses and permits, equipping and staffing, financial projections, and marketing strategies. Nine business plans were presented to a panel of 14 business and community leaders who volunteered as judges. The teams advancing to the Final Four were Gain Grub, Fit Forma, Pic to Plate, and Stache’s Pizza. 

“The three weeks in the REACH program have given me the confidence that I need to succeed in college,” said an Eleanor Roosevelt High School participant. “I have made valuable connections that I will remember forever. I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity and encourage anyone considering the program to come as you truly learn wonderful life skills and valuable real-world knowledge while having fun!” 

Krystana Walks-Harper, Pomona Unified School District assistant superintendent of pupil and community services, and Brenda Caldera of Sam’s Club Corporate received the program’s Leadership Spirit Award. Sean Snider of La Verne’s Small Business Development Center received the Julie Caston Hicks Award, in memory of the late Julie Caston-Hicks, a former REACH advisory board member who passed away in December 2018. The award is bestowed on an individual or an organization who has exhibited unwavering dedication to and support of the program. 

A post-program survey revealed that more than 95 percent of participants intend to attend college, 86 percent reported a positive change in their perspective on college life, and 64 percent indicated a positive shift in their view on business.