Thursday, April 21, 2016

Contact: Elissa Garr (202) 800-8411


Washington, DC – First Star, Inc. has been awarded a grant by the Good Neighbor Grants Program of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. The support will allow the organization to continue its groundbreaking education program, the First Star Greater Washington Academy, serving DC-area foster youth.

The Greater Washington Academy, in operation since 2012, partners with local universities to make a long-term investment in these young people throughout their high school careers. This investment includes year-round weekly mentoring, full-day academics-focused workshops, and four-week summer immersion where the students live the collegiate experience (at the George Washington University in July 2016). The Academy keeps youth on track for academic success, equips them with life skills needed for adulthood, trains them to advocate for themselves and others, and provides a long-lasting family.

The First Star Greater Washington Academy is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which provides the largest scholarships in the nation to high-achieving students with financial need.

“When we saw the statistics about educational outcomes for youth in foster care, we knew we had to do something!,” said Elissa Garr, the Academy’s President. “Nationally and right here in the national capital region, these young people transfer schools up to 8 times while in foster care, and less than three percent earn a Bachelor’s degree. We are helping a wonderful group of local teens determined to beat those odds. Thanks to the Academy, they are raising their high school GPAs, improving their reading skills, developing skills like healthy cooking and handling money wisely, building positive relationships in a college dorm, and so much more! We are grateful that the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has partnered with us once more to serve our students.”

“The First Star Greater Washington Academy is doing an outstanding job helping high-achieving foster youth reach their full academic potential and preparing them for college,” said Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold O. Levy. ”The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is proud to play a role in helping the Greater Washington Academy open the doors to educational opportunity and career success for the young people it serves.”

Local residents can see how the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Good Neighbor Grant Program funds are benefiting the Academy’s work by visiting us at

About the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation: The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. It offers the largest scholarships in the U.S., comprehensive counseling and other support services to students from 8th grade to graduate school. Since 2000, it has awarded about $147 million in scholarships to more than 2,000 students and $90 million in grants to organizations that serve outstanding low-income students. Visit

About First Star Inc.: First Star improves the lives of America’s abused and neglected children by strengthening their rights, illuminating systemic failures and igniting necessary reforms. We pursue our mission through research, public engagement, policy advocacy, education direct services and litigation. First Star fights for a future in which America’s abused and neglected children will have won full recognition of their fundamental right to be heard and protected by the systems legally entrusted with their care, a future in which those systems are fully resourced, transparent and accountable to the public.