SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Twenty foster youths recently completed the inaugural summer at the First Star URI Academy, aimed at giving children tools and training for future success.
The University of Rhode Island became the second in the country to host a First Star academy, following the University of California, Los Angeles program last year.
The program, run by national nonprofit First Star, involved an introductory college-immersion program, a four-week campus stay, three URI undergraduate course credits, cooking classes and multimedia training.
Program graduates will work with a mentor throughout the academic year and return to campus next summer.
The program, for youths about to enter ninth grade, was made possible with funding support of Hasbro Inc., Identity Theft 911, Adoption Rhode Island and the R.I. Department of Children, Youth & Families.
Hasbro’s funding includes pro bono management and leadership support.
First Star reports that less than half of former foster youths are employed by age 24, that 24 percent will experience homelessness, and that less than 3 percent will earn four-year degrees, compared to 30 percent of the general population.
The program was first envisioned by URI adjunct professor and First Star board member Kathleen Reardon in her book “Childhood Denied.” •