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We are standing
in the river.

Alone we shall be swept
by its current.

United, we can know the
many rivers
to cross.

Individually, we shall
drown in its depths.

Combined, the river will
guide us to
the higher ground.

Together, we are


Excerpt from the Bakari© Program Ritual

About the Bakari© Mentoring Program 


The Bakari© Mentoring Program in San Luis Obispo County is a culturally sensitive and gender specific intervention and prevention program for at-risk youth ranging in age from 14-17 years.  The program is facilitated under the direction of Dr. Thomas A. Parham, Chief Executive Officer and and Dr. Roslyn M. Caldwell, Program Director.  


The Bakari© Mentoring Program began in November 2008 and is an outgrowth of the Bakari Project© in Irvine, California which serves at-risk youth and was designed and conceptualized in 1995 by Dr. Thomas Parham, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at the University of California, Irvine in consultation with his colleagues in local organizations throughout Orange County. Additionally, a third Bakari Project© program has been utilized as Rite of Academic Passage for “College Bound Youth” located in Los Angeles County, California utilizing all male groups and mixed groups of males and females.

Derived from the Swahili language, the word Bakari means “One who will succeed.” As such, the program was developed as a prevention and intervention model with the specific intention of anchoring educational initiatives within local organizations.

The Bakari© Mission Statement

The Bakari© program’s mission is to nurture socially conscious, responsible, and productive youth who can actualize their potential and take full advantage of life opportunities while confronting life challenges in pro-social ways.  As such, the program aims to help youth successfully transition into adulthood.

The Bakari© Purpose and Assumptions

The Bakari© Program is an initiative designed to help transform the lives of young men and women from where they are to what they can be according to broader visions of human possibility.  Given the mission of the program, three assumptions facilitate the foundation of youth success.   

(1) The first assumption is referred to as the "Triangle for Success" (Parham, 1993) and depends on a cooperative relationship between the home, school, and community.  Educational achievement in communities has historically been facilitated by the collaboration of these three dimensions that, although continuing to exist, are becoming increasingly disconnected. This "disconnect" is represented by each dimension of the triangle blaming other dimensions for the failure of our youth.  The goal is to reconnect the triangle so that the home, school, and community are all in concert with one another to support our youth.

(2) The second assumption focuses on the meaning of manhood and womanhood.  We live in a world where society grants young people privilege based on age, ultimately conferring adulthood status when youth reach either age 18 or 21. In other cultural traditions manhood and womanhood are not defined by age, but instead are defined by mastery of particular aspects of humanity.  Consequently, the relevant question we must ask our youth has less to do with how old they are, and more to do with what tasks or skills they have mastered to certify them as adults.

(3) The third assumption that guides The Bakari© Program is that the most daunting challenge facing the community and its youth are not drugs, gangs, violence, poverty, racism, or any other social ill, but rather the need for mental liberation. This assumption declares that our children's lives have been contaminated by intellectual, emotional, behavioral and spiritual shackles that conceptually incarcerate their thinking and limit their visions of possibility (Caldwell & Parham, 2011; Parham, 2004; 1999).  The Bakari Program© seeks to release our youth from these constraints and help them discover their potential by resocializing their behavior by resocializing their thinking, through intensive programming that fosters increased supervision and monitoring, and career and life skill development opportunities.

The Bakari© Program seeks to prevent identified at-risk youth throughout San Luis Obispo County from a downward spiral that negatively impacts their educational progress, mental health and well-being, and the possibility of engaging in delinquent behavior that could ultimately lead to intersecting with the juvenile justice system.


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