First Star UCLA Summer Guardian Academy
Foster youth are often denied access to adequate educational and residential programs that meet their unique needs within a supportive environment. The damaging effects of growing up in foster care without those needs met are staggering: high rates of young parenthood, unemployment, homelessness, inadequate health insurance, reliance on public assistance, severe mental illness and incarceration. Foster youth often emerge as young adults from our “system” without possessing the basic skills to survive. Less than 3% of Foster Youth (below one tenth of the proportion of the general population) benefit from a college education, arguably their best ladder out of challenging childhoods to worthwhile adult lives.
First Star and UCLA created the First Star UCLA Summer Guardian Academy in 2011 as a first significant and scalable step to leveling the educational playing field for the Foster Youth of Los Angeles. This program continues at UCLA in 2012 and has been replicated so far in two other national locations. The Summer Academy offers a supportive residential educational program, strategically located on a university campus and delivers an excellent chance at college and a major step towards a fulfilling future.