University of Miami School of Law’s First Star Academy: Clearing a Path to College for Youth in Foster Care

On August 4th, FFCR’s Training & Engagement Manager, Marissa Leichter, Esq., attended the First Star Academy’s graduation ceremony. With members of the community proudly cheering them on, foster youth who participated in the summer program were recognized for their academic achievements and improvements by their Youth Coaches, some of whom are recent foster care alumni. Our Kids and Educate Tomorrow were recognized for their community partnerships and support in making First Star a reality this summer.

First Star Academy was brought to the University of Miami School of Law by Professor Kele Stewart in partnership with Professor Laura Kohn-Wood and Associate Professor Wendy Morrison-Cavendish, both in the School of Education and Human Development (SOEHD) at the University of Miami.  The program is part of a national model that provides a pathway to college for youth in foster care by introducing them to college life and exposing them to positive activities and new experiences. The First Star Academy in Miami took place on the University of Miami campus from July 5ththrough August 4th.  The 20 rising 10thgraders in the program ate at UM’s Hecht Dining Hall and slept in the Stanford Residential College. The students spent their mornings strengthening academics, while the afternoons focused on developing critical life skills to help youth navigate college and life as a young adult. Participants were treated to weekly field trips to Wynwood, the Frost Science Museum, and a dance performance. The youth also engaged in volunteer work on behalf of the community, including a beach clean-up. This was First Star’s second summer in Miami. The same group, who started last summer as rising 9th graders, will return for the next two summers. For more information about the program, please visit