University Partners with First Star Academy to Host Foster Youth

Students will participate in four-week immersion program at GW.

kogan plaza
June 17, 2013

This summer, the George Washington University will partner with the public charity First Star Academy to give foster children a preview of college life through an academically rigorous immersion experience.

From July 7 to August 1, students will learn from certified teachers in literacy, math, transitions, financial literacy, identity theft, yoga, brain development, study skills, independent living, applying to college and more. George Washington will also provide athletic facilities and instruction in soccer, tennis, basketball and lacrosse, and students will stay at a residence hall on the Mount Vernon Campus. GW students serve as their mentors and live in the residence hall with them.

“It’s gratifying to work on a project where the benefits are so immediate and visible,” said Toni Marsh, College of Professional Studies associate dean for new initiatives and the GW liaison for the academy. “This truly innovative and multi-disciplinary new initiative wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of various parts of the university, from athletics to the art therapy department, who volunteered their time and talent.”

The First Star Greater Washington Academy is a year-round program for 30 foster youth entering 9th and 10th grades in Fairfax County, Va., and the District of Columbia. The academy provides students with academic support, enrichment and encouragement to help them become competitive applicants for their eventual admission to college.

“Only 3 percent of foster youth achieve a four-year degree, compared with the 30 percent of the general population. Our goal is to change that statistic,” said Elissa Garr, president of the First Star Greater Washington Academy. “We are honored to partner with such a prestigious institution as the George Washington University. This summer will be a wonderful introduction to college life for our students.”

First Star Greater Washington Academy is supported by the Freddie Mac Foundation, Capital One, the Fairfax County Department of Family Services, the D.C. Department of Child and Family Services and many other foundations and individuals.