Why We Exist
Less than fifty percent of youth in foster care graduate high school. Less than ten percent enroll in college, and less than three percent of that ten percent graduate college.
Many hurdles to education exist for youth in care. For example, once a youth is placed in the foster care system they change placements an average of every six to eight months. Each placement change means moving homes, and often schools and communities, and each change results in an average of three to four months of educational loss.
While there is no single solution to solve the multi-faceted problems that contribute to poor educational outcomes for youth in foster care, the First Star model is one avenue for making a difference in individual lives. During Saturday and Summer Academies, First Star scholars fill in academic knowledge gaps, prepare for the ACT, practice budgeting and learn conflict resolution, among other skills. Through long-term mentorships with staff and long-term relationships with peers, First Star scholars access the needed stability of adult and peer relationships even as they may continue to change families and schools. As scholars move, First Star also provides the bureaucratic consistency to keep youth on track for high school graduation and enrollment in higher education. First Star remains with scholars throughout all four years of high school, regardless of placement changes, reunification or adoption.
The University of Utah First Star Academy is a partnership between the University of Utah, the national non-profit First Star, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services and the Utah State Board of Education. The UofU First Star Academy is one of fourteen First Star Academies across the country.
The mission of the national non-profit First Star is to improve the lives of youth in foster care by partnering with child welfare agencies, universities, and school districts to ensure youth have the academic, life skills, and adult supports needed to successfully transition to higher education and adulthood. First Star pursues this mission through innovative college-preparatory programs, providing technical assistance to stakeholders, and advocating for policy change.