REACH kicked off its first programs in 2018, in response to the expressed need of the uninsured workforce for healthcare. Staffed by students from the Health Sciences Center, REACH hosted pop-up clinics and Health & Wellness Fairs on campus. In 2018 and 2019, more than 400 workers and their families attended these events. At the same time, REACH was helping students create their own AgsREACH organization, working with BUILD on the design and construction of its free health clinic (generously funded by a Strategic Philanthropy Grant) and the development of its lifelong learning, personal finance, and homeownership programs.
Early in 2020, COVID-19 came to Texas A&M. As the campus emptied out, service workers were laid off and furloughed. REACH pivoted and implemented its COVID Emergency Response. Over the course of the next 12 months, approximately 700 families were served 200,000 pounds of produce, 40,000 locally sourced restaurant meals, 7,500 USDA Meal Boxes, and 6,000 pounds of frozen meat, by 240 student volunteers. REACH initiated opening on campus Warming Centers, and drive-thru health clinics.
In the second half of 2020, REACH delivered its first courses in finance, ESL, and homeownership. Since then, the number of participants doubled each course offering (with a 98% retention rate), as has the number of student volunteers and interns. Today, more than 300 students representing 28 different majors regularly serve more than 800 families by providing access to food and healthcare, including vision, dental, and breast health clinics, food-producing home gardening, pet Vet clinics, as well as Everyday ESL, and the REACH Journey Home. Three participants have become homeowners; 7 more have qualified.