The Inspiring Journey of Ricardo Ibarra

By Giving List Staff   |   April 5, 2024
"Be proud of your roots and take risks. Your experiences and values can propel you to greatness." -Ricardo Ibarra UC Irvine, Class of 2023

Ricardo Ibarra’s story is one of perseverance, passion, and the pursuit of excellence. Born to Mexican parents who immigrated to San Jose, California in search of a better life, Ricardo fell in love with soccer at the age of 4. With his father’s encouragement, he joined his first team, marking the start of a lifelong devotion to the beautiful game.

“I started playing soccer when my dad signed me up for my first team,” says Ricardo.  By the age of 13 he joined the MLS San Jose Earthquakes academy. But while his skills on the field were evident, Ricardo’s dreams extended beyond the pitch.

“Education was always important to my family,” he shares. “So, when the opportunity to attend UC Irvine presented itself, I knew I had to take it”.

Guided by ACCESS U Foundation, Ricardo navigated the complexities of college admissions with ease. “ACCESS U was instrumental in connecting me with university coaches and much more,”  he explains. 

Ricardo not only excelled on the soccer field but also academically. He made the Dean’s List every semester and graduated with honors (Magna Cum Laude) in Business Economics, he proudly states. 

“To graduate from college was a dream come true,” Ricardo reflects. “It was a testament to my parents’ sacrifices and a source of immense pride.”

Ricardo was a standout player on the soccer field. As the team captain for two years, he led with distinction, culminating with the Big West Conference Tournament, where his team secured the Championship in 2023 in a penalty shootout.

“Winning the Big West Conference in penalty kicks, my senior year, is unforgettable and my favorite memory while playing at UCI,” Ricardo recalls with pride. 

Transitioning from collegiate soccer, where he was named to the Big West First Team All-Conference, to the professional arena was the natural next step for Ricardo. When he signed with the San Jose Earthquakes II, he achieved another lifelong goal.

“After my last season at UC Irvine, I had the opportunity to join the Earthquakes’ preseason,” he says. “It is a dream come true and I am eternally grateful to everyone who helped me during my career, including ACCESS U.” 

While Ricardo pursues a professional soccer career at the moment, his long term goal is to be a business owner.

Through his journey, Ricardo hopes to inspire future generations of LatinX scholar-athletes to pursue their dreams.  

“Be proud of your roots and take risks,” he advises. “Your experiences and values can propel you to greatness.”

Get to know more about Ricardo’s story, click here.

ACCESS U Earns Silver Seal of Transparency

ACCESS U has achieved the Silver Seal of Transparency on Candid, a leading online nonprofit directory. This recognition highlights our commitment to transparency and good governance, providing assurance to donors and funders. We thank our supporters and partners for their trust and confidence in our organization as we continue to empower today’s youth through education at ACCESS U.

Highlights from the Field

Victoria Delatorre, ACCESS U scholar-athlete, has become an inspiration through her exceptional skills and dedication.

In the recent ECNL Girls Regional League 2024 Florida Spring event and amidst a large number of teams and players, Victoria Delatorre (Spring, TX) emerged as a standout. Recognized by Soccer Wire as a “Player that Impressed,” Delatorre’s skills on the field have not gone unnoticed.  Her recognition serves not only as a testament to her abilities, but also as motivation for aspiring athletes everywhere. 

Giovanni Calderon (New Haven, CT), ACCESS U student-athlete at CSU Fullerton, has been carving his own path to success. Adding yet another highlight to his career, Calderon has recently received the call-up to Puerto Rico’s First Team for international friendlies. This achievement underscores Calderon’s talent and highlights his potential to make significant contributions on the international stage.   

For both Delatorre and Calderon, their journeys are not just about personal achievements but about inspiring others to pursue their dreams. Their stories serve as reminders that with hard work, dedication, and passion, anything is possible on and off the field.

Giovanni Calderon (Third Player From Top Left Row) represented Puerto Rico in two international friendlies versus Belize March 22,2024.

Access U Foundation

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(415) 305-5575
CEO ACCESS U Foundation: Brad Rothenberg


ACCESS U believes that every soccer player deserves a chance to succeed. We provide Black and Latino scholar-athletes with mentors who guide them through the college recruitment process and help them fulfill their academic and athletic potential and succeed in education, work and life.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

ACCESS U creates a more inclusive and equitable environment in college sports, offering high school students opportunities to improve their lives and fostering a stronger sense of unity within the college soccer community. ACCESS U opens doors too often closed to young people dreaming big.
Leonard Griffin
Head Coach, UC Berkeley Men’s Soccer Team

Help Level the Playing Field for All Student Athletes

Many standout student-athletes in Latino and Black communities never get a chance to be recruited to play their sport in college because it is unaffordable or not accessible to them. ACCESS U helps them fulfill both their college academic and athletic dreams.

It costs ACCESS U $12,500 to help level the playing field for one student-athlete. This provides academic support, college guidance, and mentorship to guide them through the college recruitment process over the four years of high school and to help them succeed in education, work, and life. 

The Foundation is seeking $500,000 to double their current roster of 40 female athletes in the coming year and continue supporting male athletes. They are seeking a $3 million goal over the next three years to continue their mission of serving 100 students per year and to expand with recruiting tournaments, enrichment programs for college freshmen, and other resources.

Key Supporters

Allstate Insurance
Chevron U.S.A. Inc.
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Ford Motor Company
PepsiCola Team of Champions
Dena Fischer Trust
For Soccer Ventures
Yours In Soccer Foundation
Rothenberg Family Foundation
Judge James and Jessica
Dabney Family
Emily and Phil Ginsburg Family
James Horowitz
Jared and Katherine Doumani
Jennifer Betti and Peter Jackson
Over 100 additional donors