Access was founded in 1967 to deliver vital community programs as part of President Johnson’s War on Poverty.
When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, he a declared war on poverty and racial injustice. Three years later, Father Mark Doran, Sister Maria Estrada, and Father George Hardy from the Catholic Diocese of San Diego collaborated to create a Southeastern Neighborhood Development Service Center Project, which was the organizational structure for Access programs. Two service centers were established, one in the Mexican-American community of Otay, the other in southeastern San Diego and each provided Headstart, youth development, job training and employment services, and community development programs. The organization's name, Access was an acronym for its longer name, Area-wide Service Centers for Education and Social Service. After the Johnson Administration's War on Poverty programs ended, Access and the Catholic Diocese of San Diego parted and Access began to operate as an independent 501 (c)(3) organization, governed by a Board of Directors. The following timeline provides significant milestone's in the organization's programmatic history.