First Star First Star

First Star

The national nonprofit organization in Los Angeles partners with child welfare agencies, universities, and school districts to ensure that foster youth have the academic and life skills and adult support needed to successfully transition into higher education and adulthood.

Connecting Foster Youth to Educational Opportunities

First Star

First Star was established in 1999 by media executive Peter Samuelson and attorney Sherry Quirk with a goal of improving the lives of children affected by abuse and neglect. Today, First Star partners with universities and child welfare agencies to build long-term, institutionally backed investments in the lives of foster youth.

First Star operates academies at 11 university campuses — including Arizona State University, the University of Miami, and UCLA (where the First Star Academy Program was piloted) — constituting the United States' most comprehensive long-term college readiness program for high school foster youth. Students participate in immersive summer residential programs and monthly programs on the university campuses, and they are supported by a team of both professional staff and former program participants serving as college mentors. The academies currently provide approximately 350 students and their families with holistic, continuing educational case-management to help sustain the progress that youth make in their university immersion sessions. In 2022, 97 percent of students who completed the four-year program have graduated from high school (compared with 50 percent of foster youth nationwide), and 91 percent of First Star students have enrolled in higher education.

GRoW Support


General Operating Support