A Letter From Our New Executive Director

Dear Friend of Access,

I am honored and excited to take on the role of executive director at Access Academies, an incredible opportunity that speaks to my passions, skillset, and guiding principle; that all children should have equitable access and opportunity to thrive.

It’s a guiding principle that I know you, as a dedicated Access supporter, are also deeply committed to. For 15 years, thanks to your generous investments, Access Academies has helped put some of our community’s most underserved students on a path to success. By now you know the numbers well: Ninety-nine percent of Access middle school students are accepted to private, college-prep high schools. Ninety-eight percent graduate high school on-time, and 96 percent are accepted to college or other post-secondary institutions. The Access program produces results, and it changes lives. And I am thrilled to have the support of Brian Day and the Board of Directors as I lead this esteemed institution through an exciting new chapter with all of you.

Over the last decade, I have dedicated my personal and professional talents toward making a positive change in the lives of children. It’s a journey that I began as a student-volunteer for the Robinson Community and Learning Center during my undergraduate years at the University of Notre Dame, and one that I’ve brought to Boys Hope Girls Hope, the LUME Institute, and the Nine Network of Public Media, where I served PBS stations and local communities nationwide as the Initiative Director of American Graduate.

Driven by my commitment to help our most underserved communities, I am eager to build upon the momentum Access has created over the last year with the Saint Louis University Partnership, Access College Scholarship, and High School Summer Bridge Program. And as the new executive director, I pledge to keep you informed of our progress and growth as I work toward achieving our board’s strategic priorities for 2021 — including the improved use of data to evaluate our students’ academic progress, the continued development of our staff and Board of Directors, and the commitment to solidify funding to enhance programmatic viability and expansion.

There is no denying that 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for all us, especially our young scholars. But our dedicated staff continues to exceed expectations, finding innovative ways to support our youth and partner schools through the pandemic. Thanks to your generosity, our graduate support team has created virtual enrichment programs, provided care packages for students, and maintained tutoring when possible. Your support has never been more critical to fulfilling our mission. I am confident that with you by our side, Access will continue to thrive and emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.

Thank you again for your support, and I look forward to working with you to give every student, every chance, every day.

Shelly Williams
Executive Director
[email protected]

P.S. If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to read (and share) our 2019-2020 Annual Report! It is truly a testament to how hard our students worked this year to overcome the challenges of the pandemic.