The University of Utah First Star Academy
is a long-term, intensive college preparatory program for youth in foster care.
First Star scholars come from a diverse array of backgrounds, but all share the thread of traumatic life histories that have cut childhood short and posed enormous barriers to education.
Nationally, less than 50% of youth in foster care will graduate high school, and less than 3% will enroll in college.
During our monthly Saturday Academies and month-long residential Summer Academies, First Star focuses on academics, life skills, self-advocacy and caregiver engagement. First Star scholars live on the University of Utah campus for one month every summer for all four summers of high school.
For students who participate in First Star Academies, 99% of scholars graduate high school and 93% enroll in college.
First Star scholar achievements at the 2019 Summer Academy:
is the average percentage increase in math test scores over the four weeks of daily math instruction at Summer Academy.
is the average percentage increase in grammar test scores over the four weeks of daily Language Arts instruction at Summer Academy.
is the percentage of students who feel motivated to work harder in high school after Summer Academy.
feel more academically capable after Summer Academy
is the number of hours scholars spent exploring elective classes in studio arts, economics and healthy relationships.
Thank you to the following community partners for making this possible!
First Star's rising seniors explored higher education options, researched the higher education steps needed to pursue their goals, learned about financial aid and scholarships, and worked on personal statements.
reported an increased capacity to see themselves at college.
LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY AND POLICY PROJECT
First Star Scholars rose to the challenge of leadership and advocacy. After a month researching issues such as the school-to-prison pipeline, affordable housing and the conditions of juvenile detention centers, scholars heard their powerful voices resound in the Utah State Capitol. From personal experience, research, and data analysis, scholars spoke of what they had learned about the issue they chose, and made policy recommendations to community members in a legislative committee room.
included Rebecca Chavez-Houck, former Utah House Representative; Tasha Williams, Utah Juvenile Defender Attorney; Martin Muñoz, Salt Lake City Corporation; Fatima Dirie, Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office of Diversity & Human Rights; and Kyle Ethelbah, Director of the University of Utah TRIO programs.
for hearing First Star scholars speak and offering such incredible insight into the power of their voices.
A variety of organizations and individuals came together to facilitate the day at the legislature, and helped First Star scholars research and present: Nubia Pena, Claudia Loayza, Jenny Hor and Rozanna Benally-Sagg from the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs; Jojo Liu from the Utah Indigent Defense Commission; Anna Thomas from Voices for Utah Children; Jerry Stott, education specialist at First Star; Marlen Olmedo-Estrada and Senator Jerry Stevenson from the Utah State Senate.
Senator Jerry Stevenson
saw First Star students in the hallway, and recognized them as the amazing individuals that they are. Senator Stevenson stopped his day to welcome First Star into the Senate chamber and answer students' questions.
of scholars feel that after Summer Academy, they can better advocate for themselves.
is the number of student subcommittees that helped to plan Summer Academy. In each subcommittee, scholars practiced life skills such as organizing, planning, facilitating, budgeting and working with others. Subcommittees included:
- Special Events
- Weeknight Activities/Social Media
- Weekend Activities
- Student Choice (i.e. physical activity)
- Resident Advisory
is the number of Student-Staff positions awarded after an application process. Student-staff is a year-long leadership appointment that plans Academies, brainstorms solutions, tutors peers, collects data and advocates for the diverse needs of students.
of scholars feel that after Summer Academy, they belong to a community.
of scholars feel that they are more capable of making friends after Summer Academy.
feel more confident entering this school year after Summer Academy.
Last but not least,
For kids who've raised younger siblings, nursed parents, and attended an average of nine schools by ninth grade--all while keeping their grades up--