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First Star Academy

First Star Academy logo

First Star Academy is a college preparation program for high school youth who receive foster care services. The program was established as a national model in 1999 to improve the lives of youth in foster care by offering academic, life skills, and mentoring support as students prepare for college and adulthood. First Star at Illinois State University serves college-bound foster youth in Central Illinois and includes monthly Saturday enrichment classes, year round academic mentoring, life skills classes, and caregiver engagement. Program participants also reside on the campus of ISU for three weeks during the summer as part of a campus immersion program.

Core components of First Star Academy at Illinois State

  • Monthly Saturday academic and life skills classes on the campus of Illinois State University
  • Residential Summer Immersion experience living on the campus of Illinois State University. During the summer program, scholars engage in:
    • Academic instruction (Math, Science, English)
    • Life skills/ college prep skills
    • Theatre and artistic expression
    • Group reflections 
    • Enrichment activities (e.g. recreation, physical education, game night)
    • Service learning
    • Field trips