Fatima: Well Prepared and Well Supported

Fatima Montano

St. Peter School (San Francisco)

St. Ignatius College Preparatory (Class of 2019)


I come from a family of humble beginnings. We don’t have much in material possessions, but we have more than we could ask for in love for one another. Everything we do, we do knowing that it benefits one another.

My brother has been such an enormous influence in my life. He attended Saint Ignatius as well, where he was able to maintain exceptional grades and take part in varsity soccer, and worked his way to becoming a current sophomore at Yale University. It’s through seeing what such a good person and student he is, that has motivated me in becoming the same.

The BASIC Fund is the reason why I am where I am today. My parents didn’t have much when they initially moved to California from Mexico. They didn’t know what jobs to get or which ones were even available to them, but they did know they wanted a fine, Catholic education for us. We did get that education with the assistance of The BASIC Fund.

St. Peter’s prepared me well for most of the academic challenges I have faced thus far. One very valuable lesson I learned at St. Peter’s that will always stick with me is to never back down from challenges or give up when things get hard, but instead face them head-on and work to overcome them.

It’s pretty overwhelming going from a school where the entirety of it equals the same as the freshmen class. However, the students are incredibly welcoming and the teachers always try to make themselves available to help me on whatever it is I need. I am looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone a bit and exploring the diversity of the school through clubs and sports. The last three months have been incredible. I can’t wait to see what the next four years have to offer.

My favorite subject right now is World History. There’s something about understanding and viewing other cultures, learning from the mistakes of the past, and discussing ways to better our current society that I find very intriguing.

I hope to go to Stanford or UC Berkeley and study medicine. Honestly, I’m both afraid and excited to go on to college. It’s something that I have wanted for so long, but the fact that it’s all happening so soon leaves me speechless.

Posted on December 18, 2015 .

Local and Immediate: Supporting Education


After offering support to some more national efforts for charters and education reform, my brother and I started looking for opportunities to support education efforts in our own SF Bay Area.  In the late '90's, we were introduced to Jim and June (McCarthy) who had recently started such an effort. We immediately signed up behind them and Arthur (Rock).  We've been a strong supporter ever since.  

Giving money to education reform efforts that might one day take hold is important but takes many years to see results. Money we contribute this year to the BASIC Fund offers lower income parents in the Bay Area an opportunity to make a difference in their children's lives right now! 

When friends ask about our philanthropic efforts, The BASIC Fund is always at or near the top of the conversation. I explain it's a unique opportunity to do something local and with immediate impact in education.  The funds they contribute are leveraged: every dollar goes towards a child's superior education that they couldn't otherwise afford. The Board covers all administrative costs of a great team of professionals.  

~ Eric Schwartz, The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation

Posted on December 8, 2015 .

Mission Dolores Academy Investing in the Future

My name is Dan Storz, and I’m the Principal at Mission Dolores Academy, an independent Catholic K-8 school in San Francisco’s Mission District. 

Our school’s history dates back to 1852, making us the oldest private school in San Francisco.  The Academy’s mission is to provide an affordable, world-class primary education to underserved youth from throughout the Bay Area.  85% of our students receive some form of financial aid, 60% qualify for federal free/reduced lunch, and over half will be the first in their family to graduate from college. We are the only private school in San Francisco with a large African-American student population (29%).

Mission Dolores Academy’s enrollment has increased from 215 to almost 260 the past five years.  We could not have supported that growth without the help of the BASIC Fund.  Over 40% of our students are currently receiving aid from The BASIC Fund. The BASIC Fund allows me to say to my families, “I’m not going to let you leave here just because of financial difficulties. If this is the place you decided is best for your child we will work it out.”  

At Mission Dolores Academy, we are recognized both nationally and internationally for our pioneering, technology-rich curriculum that integrates online learning with teacher-led, small group instruction to deliver truly personalized instruction. Year after year, Mission Dolores Academy students show significantly greater academic gains than students nationally based on standardized test results.  Our graduates go on to many of San Francisco's most prestigious college preparatory high schools - 83% are currently attending charter or private high schools, and 100% are expected to attend college.


You can certainly look at numbers to measure success and what that looks like; however, what you can’t see in those numbers is what I see every day with our families. So many families make the effort every day, work hard work hard every day—and they’re doing it for their kids. We can see the love and care within these families.  Together, Mission Dolores Academy and The BASIC Fund help provide the educational experience and stability they want and deserve. It’s wonderful for families to have that stability of being a part of the same educational community year after year throughout the education of all of their children.

The Bay Area contains the highest concentration of college graduates in the world.  As a community, we recognize the importance of investing in our children to create a better future, a better community, a better country for all of us. Because of the critical support our families receive from the BASIC Fund, we are able to lay the foundation that allows our students to realize their potential and impact lives for generations.  Thank you for supporting the BASIC Fund.


Dan Storz

Principal, Mission Dolores Academy

P.S.  If you’d like to learn more about Mission Dolores Academy, please visit our website at mdasf.org or call us at (415) 638-6212 to schedule a tour.

Posted on October 20, 2015 .

Meet our new supporter, Jerry Yang

Education has always been an area that my wife and I care deeply about.  I was introduced to The BASIC Fund by my friend Jeff Edwards, who is on its board.  I visited a local BASIC Fund school, and saw the incredible work that the are being done with students from low-income families.   

Through my work in Silicon Valley, I have seen the advantage that a quality education can provide for children and families.  High school and college education are key to a better life with more options.  While we want public education to be the answer for all, it currently does not work for many who live in low-income areas.  Even as the system is being repaired, we can do something to help, now.  The BASIC Fund intervenes by giving parents immediate options to choose the school that is right for their children, right here in the Bay Area.  

During my school visit at Palo Alto’s St. Elizabeth Seton, I saw children learning, playing and thriving.  It is remarkable that over 19,000 students have been helped by this program.  We decided to support The BASIC Fund, and each day we know that there are kids in schools around the Bay Area being given this chance.  These kids are learning in a safe environment and will graduate from high school at a rate of 98%, then go on to college at a rate of 92%.   We know we are making a true difference in their lives and in their families lives.  As a Bay Area citizen, I feel that it is important that our community produces productive members of society.  I like to think that in the near future, BASIC Fund students can be part of the workforce in businesses I have helped launch, and that all of our lives are better because of the education they have received. 


Entrepreneur Jerry Yang co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in 1995 and served on the Board of Directors until January 2012.  Mr. Yang also served as a member of the executive management team.  While at Yahoo he led a number of initiatives, including two of the biggest investments in the internet: Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group.  Yang holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University.  He is widely recognized as a visionary and pioneer in the internet technology sector, and was named one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35 by the MIT Technology Review in 1999.   

Mr. Yang served as a director of Yahoo Japan Corporation (TSE:4689) and Alibaba Group until January 2012; and a director of Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) from July 2000 to November 2012.

Mr. Yang currently works with and invests in technology entrepreneurs through AME Cloud Ventures, his innovation investment firm.  Mr. Yang also serves as a director on the boards of Workday Inc., Lenovo Group, and Alibaba Group.

Mr. Yang and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki, are well known philanthropists who focus on higher education, conservation and the arts.  Mr. Yang serves as a Director of Dunhuang Foundation (USA), and a Director for Monterey Peninsula Foundation.  He served on Stanford University's Board of Trustees from 2005 through 2015, including being a Vice Chair of the Board.  Mr. Yang is a member of the Committee of 100, as well as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 


Posted on October 19, 2015 .

The Chen's: Thriving at Principled Academy

We want to take this opportunity to say: Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You do not know us, yet you make a huge difference in our lives by contributing money each month to our kids' education. Because of this education and because of the safe and diverse environment our kids are in each day, we hope they will grow into wonderful people who care. Care not only for their own success in life but for the people around them who might be less fortunate.

We are a family of five. My husband David came to the United States from Vietnam on a boat, together with many other refugees who had escaped from the communist government. We have 3 daughters: Kienyen - 12, Anya - 11, and Dalene - 9. We live not far from the school in an apartment complex that has a community swimming pool which our daughters enjoy often, especially in the summer time. We don't have cable TV in our home but we do love watching good movies.

Our oldest daughter Kienyen is a 7th grader who has been attending The Principled Academy since the 1st grade. She loves music and singing. She has been learning piano for several years and she has taught herself guitar. She is getting really good at it. We hear her sing all the time. She is a straight A student and learning comes quite easy to her. She enjoys swimming, basketball and running. She likes reading and writing very much but as of today she is hoping to become good enough at music so she can perform for other people one day.      


Anya is a 6th grader and has been attending the Principled Academy since Kindergarten. She is the middle daughter who loves, loves, loves to read. She is a great reader and really enjoys books, especially adventure. When she doesn't read, she bakes, plays chess, swims and plays basketball. She likes to spend time with her friends. She and her sister have chipped in and got an old, but well working typewriter just the other day. Anya is planning to write a great story on this new (old) typewriter.                                                    


Dalene is a 4th grader, it is her 5th year at the school. She is the youngest daughter who is a talented artist. She makes little sculptures, paints and creates unending art projects. She just joined the chess club and the performing arts club where she is hoping to do the play "Annie" Dalene also loves to sing, swim and ride her scooter.

The main reason we chose The Principled Academy is because it emphasizes character education which we feel is a very important quality we want our kids to have. We want them not only to have the knowledge and the skills but to also have the character of heart. We want our kids to grow into good, responsible adults who use their hearts as much as their minds to bring greater benefit to their community.

We, as parents are quite confident that our kids are in a safe environment each day. As we drop them off at the school every morning, we are at peace that they will be well taken care of and also that they will be academically challenged.

The BASIC Fund is critical to our children being able to attend The Principled Academy and we are so deeply grateful for it. We simply will not be able to keep our children there without the BASIC Fund. 

Thank you!

Posted on October 5, 2015 .

Community Fair 2015!

We had another fun evening with San Francisco families and students on September 24. The event helped to connect BASIC Fund families with high schools serving the city. Thank you to Children's Creativity Museum and Walgreen's for making the event a success.  

Posted on September 30, 2015 .

School Spotlight: Beechwood School

By Tyler Jones

Photo courtesy of Tyler Jones

Photo courtesy of Tyler Jones

Tucked off Interstate 101, the Beechwood School is an unlikely oasis for the area. But for nearly twenty years, it has been serving its broader mission. In April, BASIC Fund Co-Founder June McCarthy sat down with Principal David Laurance to learn more.

Founded by locals out of a desire to address inequities in the East Palo Alto and Menlo Park communities, the Beechwood School started out of a portable building next to the railroad tracks. Beechwood has since grown. In September of 2013, Beechwood secured plans to develop a $12 million new campus. The school’s leadership believes that a large reason that its students have been able to successfully prepare for high school and college is because they are made to feel safe. “What we've found,” says Principal David Laurance, is that if students are in a safe place -- physically, but also emotionally -- and are with teachers who care and form positive relationships with their students, the students go on to good high schools, graduate, go to college, and become good contributors to the workplace.”

Another reason Principal Laurance believes has made Beechwood so successful is because of its holistic approach to learning. “If we have a child who isn't reading at their level -- for example, a 3rd grader not reading at that level -- we find areas where they are making progress,“ says Laurance. “We had one student struggling socially, emotionally, academically -- [but] now she is just struggling academically.” When the emotional and social problems are relieved, the academic problem becomes much easier to address. “When our students are not here at Beechwood,” Laurance adds, “they have real concerns: will mom be working tomorrow, where will we be living next -- they have all these troubles in their lives. So when they come here, it's our job to make them happy and make each of their days as stress-free as possible so they are enjoying their time at school.” Laurance adds. “We know all our parents -- marital status, what country they came from, what their story is. I've been invited to a home -- and this is a home for 6 people -- so you think, ‘wow I scolded that child for not doing her homework -- I need to be truly empathetic to the kids and what's happening at home.’”

Photo Courtesy of Tyler Jones

Photo Courtesy of Tyler Jones

In line with this holistic approach is an appreciation of the outdoors as a part of the learning experience, and how it can integrate with community and healthy living. “A lot of thought went into building the new campus,” says Laurance. “We have outdoor education starting in kindergarten. Our new campus is full of flowers. We have a working farm where students grow and harvest vegetables -- and eat them! So we can make a connection [with] our mission statement -- that our students should be making healthy choices for body and mind.”

Technology also plays an important role in the Beechwood classroom, “When I think of technology, I think of balance,” says Laurance. “We don’t want to let these powerful machines get in the way of balance. Our staff -- 8th, 7th and 6th grade teachers -- get trained to use iPads in the class to provide that balance. It allows students to take responsibility for their own learning.”

Lastly, Principal Laurance acknowledges the dedication and hard work of his teachers.  “When I think about our teachers, I think about a group united in our purpose,” Laurance says proudly. “Like our kids -- they're very happy here, very low turnover. Stress on teachers about test scores, etc. can often happen in schools -- teachers who are dissatisfied or feeling stress, no matter if they know that or not that they are stressed -- it will come out in their interactions with students. It's my job to make sure my teachers feel supported.”

Posted on May 19, 2015 .

BASIC Fund Alumni Sets His Sights On CEO

By Fanor Meneses

St. Peter’s Elementary School

St. Ignatius College Prep

St. John’s University (NY) & University of San Francisco, B.S in Business Management

Fanor and his sisters, Leslie and Sophia

Fanor and his sisters, Leslie and Sophia

I attended St. Peter's for all of my grammar school years K-8, and then went on to a very rigorous high school at St. Ignatius College Prep. I had great teachers, and I am still great friends some of the people I've known since Kindergarten. I believe that a private school education (especially in a small city like SF) is a great platform to build off of for a better future, but it really depends on how much work you are willing to put into it. 

As an individual, I worked a lot on my relationships with others. Starting off my undergrad career in New York City provided me the opportunity to meet people from all around the country, and the world. I learned to view the world through the point of view of others. I like to think that I took bits and pieces from every meaningful relationship I had, and adopted them myself. 

College was great experience that full of ups and downs. As a student, I developed a passion for learning everything I could in the little time I had as an undergrad. My degree is in Management, but my specialty is accounting. Accounting as a science, is pretty straightforward and there is not much room for creative thought. In order to maintain a balance, I took a diverse list of elective classes for things that I had always been intrigued about. (Ex. Latino studies, Marketing, Yoga, Jewish Theology, among others).  

One of the most essential factors for excellent academic performance is to cut free from any distractions that will keep you from your goal. If you have a goal in mind, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices, whether it video games, social media, favorite TV shows. You also have to be willing to align yourself with people who have similar goals as yourself, who will push you forward as you grow. As hard as it may be, you also sometimes have to cut ties with people who will drag you down or guide you down the wrong path. This is only my personal opinion, and what worked well for me may not work for others. Essentially, you have to be your own person. 

Once it came time to graduate, it did really hit me that I could not have done it without the support of many along the way. Most notably my Mom, and my family. I owed it to her, my younger siblings, and all those who believed in me to make sure that their hard work and support did not go to waste. 

The ultimate goal in my life (from a professional standpoint) is to have the title of C.E.O attached to my name. I hope to this by inspiring confidence in others and by proving myself to be a leader in my field. My career is still in its early stages so I'm aware I have a long way to go, but I also have the opportunity to explore different types of career paths before settling down on one. 

Mom, Deyanira tells us why having the choice to send her children to private school was so important to her

I didn't have the privilege to attend a private school myself, but I knew the quality of education that private school offers. Anyone can see the difference between private and public school systems – it is obvious. Students attending private schools have more opportunities and a quality education that they can’t receive in a public school.

The BASIC Fund was able to help me give Leslie the opportunity that her older brother had. She started St. Paul’s as a second grader. St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s are both excellent schools. I am very happy with the community. 

No words to explain! The day of his graduation I felt like I was walking in the clouds. It is an amazing feeling. I am a very proud mom. One down, two more to go!!

With the cost of living in the Bay Area, it is very difficult to afford private schooling on my own. Without the BASIC Fund, I wouldn't be able to give my daughter the quality education she is receiving at St. Paul’s. Thank you, BASIC Fund!

Posted on May 19, 2015 .

Supporting In Any Way We Can

By Jacquelyn Kung

"For it is in giving that we receive" - Francis of Assisi

My life has been the opposite of how Francis of Assisi describes: I received so much and now I give as much as I can. Education is the reason I have the life I do today, and I am humbled to be a part of the BASIC Fund family in giving back to our community.

How Others Provided For Me

By way of background, my parents were rice farmers in China. My mother tells the story of meeting my father and seeing the ramshackle shed he called his home. His blanket had more holes in it than strings of thread, she likes to describe.

And so, it is through a series of miracles that my family ended up in Norway and finally America. Even so, I remember the nights around the kitchen table when my parents would balance the checkbook and realize there was not enough money to pay the bills that week. Given we had so little, my parents emphasized the importance of education as a way to get ahead. 

So many people helped me along the way. I went to extracurricular activities and summer programs paid for by local charities and church groups in Texas. A free writing program taught me how to write. Imagine my family's delight when we received acceptance letters from Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford. I had never seen my parents cry before. 

Since I had only attended public schools until then, my parents fretted about how we would pay for college. Again, so many people helped us - and me. I received scholarships that covered much of the tuition, and my parents scrimped together money to pay for incidentals like textbooks and food. Without these scholarships, I would have gone to a local public college.

My Own Lightbulb Moment on Giving Back

My wakeup call for how to give back started twenty years ago. McGraw-Hill published a book I had co-authored on how to get into college and pay for it. I thought that getting a book published was pretty great. But then I noticed something. One week, we got two notes - one from a disadvantaged student in Panama and one from Malaysia. They both talked about how the book had changed their lives by helping them get into the college of their dreams. That's when I realized that, very tactically, what you can have a life-changing impact on others that you may never meet. It was a humbling and inspiring moment that has shaped the way I think.

Giving Back To Education

Today, I am an entrepreneur and advisor in eldercare here in the Bay Area. After working in McKinsey's healthcare practice, I had the good luck to co-found a rapidly-growing technology business that supports home care agencies in the U.S. - and which supports the care of 500,000 seniors a year. In short, what this all means is that I still have limited financial means! However, I wanted to give back - especially to education, which has afforded me countless opportunities. When the opportunity arose to give back through the BASIC Fund, I let the organization know that I am not financially salient - but that I would be delighted to give what I can. And so, each year I donate what funds I can but also seek to support in other ways.

Through the BASIC Fund, I've been fortunate to help cultivate data, metrics, and programs around school performance. This raises transparency for the good work that is happening in the field so that donors can feel more comfortable with how their funds are making an impact.

As you can see from my story, I've been incredibly blessed to have received so much support in my lifetime- from those who know me well (like my parents) and those who may not know me at all.  Because of the investment that has been made in me, I will continue to invest in others, and by doing so through the BASIC Fund program, I know I am making a true difference in the lives of many.

Posted on May 19, 2015 .

Our BASIC Fund Story

When the BASIC Fund started in 1998, very few initial supporters would have imagined the critical impact the program would have on Bay Area families in the future.  We are proud to tell the BASIC Fund story through the eyes of students, schools and families in this video. Thank you to all who helped us produce this piece, including Mission Dolores Academy, St. Elizabeth School, Beechwood Elementary, and St. Ignatius Preparatory.  

Posted on May 19, 2015 .