The REACH Project

Transforming Communities One Life at a Time! 




Max & Mrs. Melissa 

There comes a moment in your life when the door swings open, the lights are turned on, and reality smacks you in the face. Until that moment, you take for granted the conveniences and comforts that are the norm of student life. You don’t see the nameless, faceless workers who make it all possible. And in that blazing moment when you finally see them and are confronted by the glaring disparities in your world, you are faced with a choice - accept your community the way it is, or commit to changing it.​


Max Gerall is a student who committed to work for change. While attending Texas A&M University, he became friends with A&M’s invisible contract service employees. His life was forever changed by his friendship with Melissa Martinez, an on-campus dining hall cashier.  Through their friendship, he learned about the hardships the more than 3,000 contract service employees face. Max surveyed 170 third party support staff and found 50% were traveling more than 55 miles to work each way, 60% did not have a high school diploma, that 65% have not been to a doctor in 6 years, that 75% are forced to accrue debt annually just to make ends meet and 40% of the workers are working in the same job that their parents have worked for 30+ years. Many work two jobs, 6 days/week, year-round, just to keep food on the table. That’s what the employees do while the college students they support enjoy their free Wi-Fi and swim-up bars. After realizing the extent of the inequality between the two University communities, Max could no longer turn a blind eye; he chose to take action. 

Our Pursuit

REACH simultaneously pursues community development, lifelong learning, quality workforce housing, health and economic security for Aggie workers, through creating opportunities for the entire Aggie community to be woven together.



 Respect Empowerment Aspiration Community Hope 

Max’s decision led to the birth of the REACH. The organization was incorporated in Texas in 2017 and received its 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status in 2018. Today, it is governed by an independent Board of Directors.


The REACH Vision

To create transformative communities where historically invisible members have the opportunity to realize their full potential.

The REACH Mission

To provide the resources required to help all members of the community acquire the skills and assets needed to achieve financial self-sufficiency, build transgenerational wealth, and prevail over the obstacles preventing them from achieving their fullest potential.

The REACH has created a self-sustaining higher education ecosystem that encourages all members of the Texas A&M University community to experience Respect,  Empowerment, Aspiration, Community, and Hope. 


REACH intends to disrupt the societal stigma that attaches to University’s service workers by weaving together all segments of the community and making the invisible Aggies, visible.



Program Strategies 

Physical Strategies

Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyle Assessment

Early Childhood Development & Daycare

Homeownership Awareness & Preparation

GED & Certification Training

Primary Skill Development

Computer Literacy

Financial Literacy & Budgeting

Upskilling & Career Planning

Wellness Screening & Education

Language Education & Literacy

Naturalization Preparation & Citizenship Education

Vehicle Maintenance & Repair

Home Maintenance & Repair

Affordable Housing

Affordable Learning Village 

Learning Center 

Community Garden

Single-Family Home

Community Health Clinic

Transitional Housing

Fitness Facilities

Early Childhood Development Center

Nature Trails & Safe Play Areas

Farmers' Market

Credit Repair & Financial Stability

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Max Gerall

Founder & CEO

Mina Gerall


Gayatri Anoo

General Member

Johnathan Shipley


REACH12 Leaders



Shannon Van Zandt 

Department Head of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning at Texas A&M


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David Matarrita-Cascante

Associate Professor

Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M


Robert Riggs

Award Winning Journalist 


William Brown


Director of the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy at Bush School

REACH Advisory Alliance

REACH12 is a select group of 12 community leaders, assembled to propel the REACH initiative to its optimum potential. The alliance is comprised of key University partners and local community leaders from Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Construction Science, the Center of Government Nonprofits and Philanthropy, a representative from Mays Business School, and the University Career Center, as well as representatives from The Brazos County Health District, Bryan City Council, City of College Station Director of Community Development, and AgriLife Extension.

REACH12 is championed by a faculty member with expertise in low- income housing, home-ownership, and community development. She is leading the development of a tactical plan to more fully incorporate the REACH vision, mission, and student and community programming into broader university initiatives. The members of REACH12 have each pledged their intellectual, relational and financial resources or support of the vision and mission.

Mike Southerland

Bryan City Council Member

Larry Fickel 

Senior Lecturer

Department of Construction Science

at Texas A&M

Debbie Eller

Director of Community Services at City of College Station

Sara Mendez

Health Promotion Manager at Brazos County Health Department

Blake Parrish 

Director of 
Marketing, Communications, and Public Relations at Texas A&M

Sarah Gatson

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology 

Paul Pausky

 Associate Director, Former Student Career Services at Texas A&M

Future Member




"Hundreds of 'invisible Aggies' have been laid off, furloughed or had their hours reduced. Sunday's event provided 600 meals for 150 families. "

- The Eagle


"The REACH Project aims to help food service, custodial, grounds, and maintenance employees who have had job cuts or been furloughed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic."

- KBTX News


"Texas A&M safety Leon O'Neal Jr. put out a plea for people to help support the 'Invisible Aggies' in need"

-Brian Perroni (24/7 Sports)



Kirby Baber

Campus Liaison

 "...through education and partnerships with grad students to provide healthcare honestly left me reeling with pride to see that desire to love people in this way. Super excited to see the Aggie core values being lived out so tangibly in this city."

- Heather Laney (Nursing Volunteer)

Dr. Jaye Weston (College of Pharmacy)

- REACH Health Fair Attendees

- REACH Health Fair Attendee



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