Our History

Barbara 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 that low-income and minority youth were not being adequately served by the public school system, Mrs. Bakar began the program with four boys at Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco, and in 1999 added a girls’ program at Holy Names High School in Oakland. In 2006 achieve began a girls’ program at Mercy High School in San Francisco, which transitioned to Mercy Burlingame in 2020.  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, and 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 scholars.

Mrs. 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. 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 program.

After 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 phone calls.

Student Testimonials

  • The greatest impact achieve has had on my life is the college counseling. The help with writing, research, and financial aid has helped streamline the process significantly.

    Oscar Hernandez ‘23 Amherst College ‘27

  • achieve has helped me step out of my comfort zone and has guided me through my highs and lows. It helped me become the person I am today.

    Kaycee Leyson - MHSB '24

  • The summer internships have given me early insight on how to be successful when working my first job.

    Carlos Gonzalez - SJND ‘24

  • The achieve Program gives me the resources, support, and opportunities to succeed. What I like best is the endless support you receive from everybody.

    Angela Leon Alvarez - HNHS '26

  • The summer experience helped me to step out of my comfort zone and socialize with those around me to get to know them better.

    Daniela Perez - MHSB '26

  • achieve exposes its students to the world, turning bright students into shining ones.

    Alexander Robinson ‘23 - Reed College ‘27

  • achieve has taught me that education and growth go hand in hand with helping others.

    Sophie Ramirez - HNHS '24

  • achieve has given me hands-on work experience and helped me build leadership skills, which will help me apply for colleges and jobs in the future.

    Jayden Lucas - SJND '25

  • Community service is more rewarding than anything. Getting to help and care for those around you brings out true smiles and happiness.

    Nichola Carrillo - MHSB ‘26

  • The help and mentorship of achieve set me up to succeed and have an amazing four years at high school.

    Joseph Zuloaga ‘23 - Columbia University ‘27

  • I enjoy going to the achieve cultural events at the theater, because they are always so much fun and engaging. I like that I participate in activities I never got to try before.

    Vy Phan - HNHS ‘25

  • achieve has taught me to help others for a good cause because you never know how that will influence a person’s life.

    Israel Joseph - SJND '26

  • From summer internships I have gained a vast amount of knowledge on what having a job is like. I got a taste of what it is like to be an adult, and have lots of responsibility.

    Christopher Dominguez - ARHS ‘25

Help achieve to continue opening a world of possibilities...