Bass Bakar, former Chief Executive Officer for several major retail
firms, founded the achieve program in
1997. Believing that education is the great equalizer in society and
low-income and minority youth were not being adequately served by the
public school system, Barbara began the program with four boys at
Riordan High School in San Francisco. In 1999, the girls' program began
at Holy Names High School in Oakland. In 2006 achieve
added a girls' program at Mercy High School in San Francisco. In 2015, a program was added at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda.
When the program began, Mrs. Bakar initially chose to remain
anonymous. However, in the second year she realized that
simply providing scholarship money was not producing success.
She decided to get personally involved--- very involved.
She visited students’ homes so that she could better
understand their lives outside of school. She met individually
with students to learn about their hopes and dreams for
the future. She, in essence, became a “second mom”
to all of the achieve students.
Bakar is constantly striving to expand and improve the program. After
asking the first achieve graduates what
additional services would have improved their academic success, she
took their advice and added an after school program at ARHS. Upon realizing that some achieve graduates were not staying in college or taking too long to graduate, an intensive college counseling component was added to the program. According to Mrs. Bakar, the program continues to be
“a work in progress” and she is committed to continue making
any changes needed to maximize the success of every student in the
graduation, students remain part of the achieve
Program and are invited to attend the annual alumni event. Mrs. Bakar
continues to advise and support alumni through letters, e-mails and
Alumni like to visit their alma
maters to speak to and motivate students in the program.