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Meet Lance Growth of The Collective Access

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lance Growth.

Lance, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was a boxer before college and one day, a mentor of mine said to me, “If you apply to college I will pay for it.” He was frustrated to see young men with talent waste their time. I applied, got in, then pursued my education all the way to law school. After, graduating, then working in city politics (Myrtle Cole, City Council President), and finding a job working with a tax real estate firm, I decided to give back. I gathered all of my friends and we ran a program called Ice Cream For A Dream. The concept was simple, we would go to an elementary school (Chavez Elementary), we would hand kids ice cream and in return, they had to tell us their dreams. The program was a success and all of my friends wanted to do more than listen to kids dreams so we developed our flagship program called Kid Networking. The program was meant to give kids professional tools so they can reach their dreams. We felt kids needed to learn how to shake hands, maintain eye contact, how to follow up when you meet someone in the professional space, basically how to network and connect with others to pursue their dreams.

Many of the people that volunteered to help me run this program are young attorneys, so we quickly incorporated then formed our 501(c)3. We began to attract a large following from the young professional community. People felt the need to give back to their community, they didn’t just want to give money, rather, they wanted to give back their talents, their knowledge, and their skill. Our program is a 100% volunteer based but we have managed to attract some talented individuals that have caused us to grow extremely fast.

Our volunteers now act as mentors to the children we target (mainly low-income youth). We have built an amazing network of your entrepreneurs, young executive, lawyers, doctors, and professionals in every space. We work aggressively to let kids know they can be anything, and also guide them and give them tools to be whatever they chose.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No, it has not, especially in a climate where our culture is so divisive. It was very challenging to keep a group of successful, strong-willed professionals together. The one things that have kept us together is the kids. No matter what we may disagree on, whenever we get into the field and meet with the kids, we all come together. Surprisingly, many of the members of our organization have commented that the kids may do more for us than we do for them. They reminded us that division is not natural, they humble us with their questions that highlight a glaring fact but as we have learned, we have grown to ignore because of social norms. We are like any other company with a diverse team, but we all sail in the same direction because of a common goal to help kids reach their dreams.

Another issue has been funding. At first, we all conducted these programs with our own money. But we quickly learned this was not sustainable. Because of our network in the downtown area, we were able to obtain venues for free and host networking happy hour events for adults who were interested in community work. Quickly we learned there is an army of professionals who all want to give back. Especially the young millennial crowd. We would host events at local downtown areas (Oxford, Pendry) and charge a fee to enter and quickly raised funds to run our programs.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Collective Access story. Tell us more about the business.
Our business is providing kids resources through mentorship, and teaching kids how to reach their professional goals through networking. I am the Co-Founder and CEO. I raise money for our programs, keep the lines of communication open and clear between our different departments, guide our team towards our goals and make sure everyone is focused on the vision. We are mainly known for our Kid Networking program. This program encourages kids to learn how to network, the importance of relationships, professional etiquette, and we help them practice these skills by connecting them with the young professional in the San Diego community.

As a company, my proudest moment is our Message To The Youth Event where we rented out the entire Horton Plaza Park, invited inspirational speakers to speak to kids, and handed out over 400 backpacks to kids two days before school started. Each backpack was filled with school supplies donated by local companies like Jerome’s furniture, Foundation Escrow, Oakwood Escrow, First American Title, Batta Fulkerson Law Group, Toshiba Electronics, and many more. The Police Chief Showed up, the Fire Department showed up, and they all helped us hand kids school supplies and give them a positive message. Take a look:

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
LOL, Luck has played a gigantic role in my life. The day my mentor who paid for me to college made the offer, I just happened to be walking into his office to turn in my time sheet. He was upset and ranting and raving how young men can do more and need to do more.

He really did not expect me to apply to college after he said he would pay if I did but, AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, I DID. That one moment change the path of my life from the following boxing and not really knowing what I would do, to being a lawyer (I don’t practice) who uses his legal education to build a company that helps other kids.

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