ASU First Star Academy provides education and long-term support for Arizona’s foster youth throughout middle and high school while preparing them for a smooth transition to higher education.
Arizona State University is dedicated to providing access to higher education for all Arizona students.
As part of this commitment, the ASU First Star Academy launched in 2017. First Star Academy, a national organization that works with foster youth, has over 10 Academies throughout the country.
Through intensive college readiness programming, students gain the necessary skills to complete high school, enroll and ultimately graduate college. In Arizona, only a little more than half of high school students continue on to postsecondary education after graduation. And that figure is even lower for foster youth.
The statewide goal outlined in the Arizona Education Progress Meter is to boost this to 70 percent to ensure more students are getting the education and training they need to be successful in life.
Before they leave the foster care system, the ASU First Star Academy provides options and prepares students to move forward with their education. While many programs aid foster youth, this one is unique in that the Academy targets foster youth earlier in the education pipeline – in middle and high school.
Starting with a summer program, students take part in a three-week camp at ASU’s Polytechnic campus. They have the opportunity to live and study on campus, which encourages them to envision themselves at college.
The camp includes academics, workshops and introduction to resources that are empowering for foster youth. Field trips round out the experience with visits to the Musical Instrument Museum, Alice Cooper Solid Rock’s Teen Center and more.
Working with 50 community partners, ASU shares critical knowledge and resources to aid in the success of the students. The team helps First Star students navigate the complex path to higher education.
After the summer camp, students meet with their First Star advisers at least once per month during the school year. They cover everything from academic performance to FAFSA and college application completions to career exploration.
Monthly workshops help students academically, grow their life skills and also help them create a network and bridge to future success. The First Star team helps with academics by ensuring they have the tools they need to be successful. They also work on life skills to help students become ready to move on to higher education. Of course, the team also engages with students’ caretakers to ensure they’re getting support at home.
In the second year of the program, there are already more than 40 students participating in ASU’s First Star Academy. Dozens more have expressed interest, and thanks to the resources of ASU Prep Digital, the team has expanded the Academy statewide.
Students are more confident and the coaches are able to work with students to identify problems and solutions early. Within the foster youth population, who face instability and a lack of resources, the Academy is already making a positive difference.
For more success stories from across Arizona, visit the Expect More Excellence Tour.