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Program & Curriculum

Program Structure

Saturday Academies

Scholars and staff meet once a month to study, participate in workshops, practice life skills and build peer relationships. Saturday Academies are scheduled for each month from September through June of the calendar year.

Summer Academies

Scholars live on the University of Utah campus for one month every summer. Thanks to generous donations by the Lassonde Entrepreuneur Institute and the David Eccles School of Business, scholars and staff have been able to reside in Lassonde Studios. In the morning, scholars attend classes in math and language arts. In the afternoon, scholars participate in electives such as Freakonomics with Higher Ground Learning and media arts with SpyHop. Scholars close the day by releasing energy in the pool or the rock climbing wall at the Student Life Center. Meals are cooked together at the dorms or eaten at the University dining halls. On weekends, scholars might go to Lagoon, catch up on projects, visit with family or do laundry.

mentorship & caregiver engagement

Each scholar and caregiver has a point-person at First Star with whom they're in regular contact. This includes:

  • Bimonthly contact with scholars (ice cream, study sessions, or just a quick check-in)
  • Monthly contact with caregivers
  • As needed contact with school, therapist or school counselor
  • Participation in DCFS team meetings

First Star strives not to duplicate the efforts of the DCFS team but instead to provide an added layer of support where needed. While a case is open, First Star staff may thus be in less frequent contact than after a case closes, when First Star often becomes the main source of support for scholars and families, if needed.




The Academy team identifies individual academic needs of scholars, and builds curriculum to both close learning gaps and push scholars academically. In addition, First Star provides year-round 1:1 and small-group tutoring and mentoring services. Credit recovery is offered to scholars who need to retake classes for high school graduation or higher education admissions. During junior and senior year, First Star provides ACT prep, workshops on financial aid, college admissions and personal statements, individual college counseling, and assistance in navigating applications for FAFSA and scholarships.

LIFE SKILLS & self-advocacy

First Star hosts life skills workshops and electives that may include, but are not limited to, financial literacy, conflict resolution, strategic sharing, extended foster care benefits, nutrition and resume writing. Through experiential learning during Summer Academy, students practice life skills in a safe and contained environment, and are mentored as they return home and implement these skills in home and school communities.

First Star is passionate about youth voice and leadership. We strive to create an environment where scholars feel comfortable speaking up for themselves and others, and feel heard. We aim to encourage self-advocacy and advocacy formally and informally, whether it is through a month-long policy project with Voices for Utah Children and the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs, or through participation in Student-Staff, First Star's student leadership board.


First Star engages caregivers monthly and provides familial support once a DCFS or CCS case closes and the family is without DCFS or CCS resources. First Star provides or connects scholars to adult mentors who provide support as youth transition into higher education.

Last Updated: 5/26/21