The South Jersey First Star Collaborative introduced the First Star Academy at Rutgers University Camden at the First Star National Directors’ Conference in February 2017. This marked the beginning of a partnership between national First Star, The First Star Academy at Rowan University, and the First Star Academy at Rutgers University Camden, where national First Star recognized the Collaborative’s whole family approach to be successful and has recommended that all academies adopt a similar model across the country. All academies were asked to find the resources necessary to hire a Family Advocate; to develop a shared database and collaborative structure for case management; and to begin creating activities to involve caregivers and siblings in their program activities.
The First Star Academy at Rutgers University Camden has completed its first summer immersion experience, where students participated in Literacy Arts classes, Yoga instruction, Life Skills training, and Math tutoring, while also experiencing adventures such as a trip to Philadelphia, a planetarium, Ocean City, New Jersey, and Six Flags. This Fall students will be creating action plans to help them set SMART goals, timelines, and measurable objectives to help them meet those goals. Family Case Management will keep our students connected to the program, help to monitor progress towards their SMART goals, and to increase family involvement in the academic, social, and emotional lives of their youth.