The REACH Memphis mission is to help high-achieving students from Shelby County succeed in high school, college & beyond.
In 1968, the United States was experiencing change in ways that would change the face of the country forever. Vietnam protests were raging on college campus and throughout the country. Robert Kennedy was assassinated just months after the tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis.
In 1968, a student from Carver High School was selected to attend a summer experience at Phillips Exeter Academy, in Exeter, New Hampshire, one of the oldest secondary schools in the country. This allowed a student who had not known life beyond her immediate neighborhood an opportunity to learn in a diverse and highly competitive setting. The student attended the summer of 1969 and returned to Memphis with a newfound belief in herself and in her ability to achieve in any academic setting. This was the birth of the REACH Memphis Program.
By sending one student to Phillips Exeter for the summer, Mrs. Francis Hooks and Mr. Jed Dreifus could not know the impact their idea would have on hundreds of students for years to come, but they knew the difference they had made in that student’s life. In the early years, what is now REACH Memphis operated under the umbrella of the Memphis Volunteer Placement Center, as a volunteer effort of Cecile Prager, and as a program of the Memphis Rotary Foundation.
In 2007, the organization was incorporated as an independent non-profit organization called Memphis Prep. The name changed to REACH Memphis in 2014 to reflect its mission and values:
REACH Memphis has grown over the years to currently provide a variety of summer experience opportunities, college counseling services, career exploration resources, ACT preparation, mentoring, and tutoring services to our students. We re-imagine our organization every year as the needs of the students and challenges of the community change. By giving REACH Memphis students a voice in the programs, roles, and focus of the organization, we are constantly on alert to the needs of our students. By engaging hundreds of professionals as facilitators or volunteers, we have access to new ideas and approaches as they witness interactions with our students. By collaborating with other organizations, REACH Memphis is able to avoid duplicate services and remain as relevant to students today as we were to students 50 years ago.