Chicago, IL June 13, 2013 – Leading foster youth-focused advocacy organization, First Star, is discussing dramatic expansion of its Foster Academies to new universities, a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, at the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting in Chicago. The organization addresses the educational disadvantages faced by almost all foster youth: Currently 30% of Americans earn a Bachelors Degree, while only 3% of Foster Youth have that advantage.
“It’s ridiculous” says Peter Samuelson, President of First Star, “we are squandering our most precious resource, children.” Samuelson is attending CGI America to explore multiple university and community partnerships, to expand the First Star Academies for 9th. – 12th. grade Foster Youth to more cities. Existing First Star Academies are located on-campus at the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Connecticut and at the George Washington University in the District of Columbia.
“What we know from these students at UCLA, URI, UCONN and GWU is that there is nothing wrong with the kids. How could there be? Our nation’s 500,000 Foster kids are just as smart as any other half a million American youngsters. It is the adult system around them that seems designed to prevent them gaining a college education, which when you think about it, they need more than most kids, because by definition they have to overcome backgrounds of abuse and neglect” says Samuelson.
Samuelson is exploring the new partnerships necessary to replicate more First Star Academies nationwide. “We have this huge national resource hiding in plain sight: our universities and colleges” he says. “They have the role models, the teaching skills, the athletics, the community spirit, the culture and the environment…. precisely what Foster Youth don’t have, but exactly what they need to dream large, build productive, middle-class lives and break the appalling cycle of abuse, neglect, poverty and despair. This is America. We know what to do. The resources exist. I’m hoping networking at CGI will build more partnerships with more universities and with more people who care about their communities, to change the face of Foster Care forever.”
First Star is the leading national advocacy organization that fights nationally to get Foster Youth into college. First Star partners with universities to house, educate and encourage high school age Foster Children to want to go to college, to have the grades and the life skills to get there, and to demonstrate to them the role models that prove theirs is an attainable dream. www.firststar.org
About CGI America The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Established in June 2011 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) addresses economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since its first meeting, CGI America participants have made more than 200 commitments valued at $13.4 billion when fully funded and implemented. To learn more, visit cgiamerica.org