PLATINUM2022

FIRST STAR INC

aka First Star   |   Los Angeles, CA   |  http://www.firststar.org

Mission

First Star improves the lives of foster youth by partnering with child welfare agencies, universities, and school districts to ensure foster youth have the academic, life skills, and adult supports needed to successfully transition to higher education and adulthood. We pursue our mission through innovative college-preparatory programs, providing technical assistance to stakeholders, and advocating for policy change.

Ruling year info

2000

CEO

Lyndsey Wilson

President, Co Founder

Peter Samuelson

Main address

2049 Century Park East Suite 4320

Los Angeles, CA 90067 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

31-1719436

NTEE code info

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (R01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (P05)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2020, 2019 and 2018.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The educational outcomes for foster youth are far below those of their peers; less than 50% finish high school, only 10% go on to higher education, and less than 3% earn a college degree.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Foster Youth Academies

First Star partners with universities and child welfare agencies throughout the country to make a long-term investment in foster youth and change the course of their lives, from abuse and neglect to academic achievement and self-sufficiency. The Academies are the country’s only long-term programs for high school foster youth that include both four immersive residential summers on a university campus, and monthly sessions during each school year. During the residential sessions, the youth are not only supported by highly qualified professionals, but also by peer mentors who are former foster youth attending the host university. Throughout all four years, Academy staff provides holistic, long-term education case management to the youth and their families to sustain the progress youth make during the university-immersion sessions.

The First Star Academies currently serve approximately 350 youth across thirteen campuses: Arizona State University, Cal State San Bernardino, CUNY Staten Island, Illinois State University, Loyola University of Chicago, Rowan University (New Jersey), Rutgers University – Camden, UCLA, University of Connecticut, University of Miami, University of Central Florida, and University of Utah. The First Star Academies have significantly improved the outcomes of participating youth across the country. 99% of First Star Academy youth who have completed four years of programming have graduated high school, and 89% have enrolled in higher education, including a significant proportion to four year universities.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

To ensure that the Academy model remains both effective and relevant, the First Star Alumni Program extends our support for our Academy graduates as they navigate higher education and adulthood. Our goal is to provide support and guidance throughout their college careers by keeping track of how our Alumni are excelling post-high school graduation while providing responsive services, a national resource toolkit, an interactive social media presence, and celebrating important moments in the lives of our Alumni. Our Peer Mentors play an integral part in the program through their shared lived experience managing the transition between high school and higher education. With this ongoing connection by way of the program and social media presence, our scholars are given continued support from the First Star family to persevere through the challenges of early adulthood.

Population(s) Served

The events of 2020 and 2021 resulted in both a shift to virtual learning, and renewed energy around social justice movements. Having examined the counter-productive beliefs and actively identified solutions to the inequities foster youth and marginalized communities endure (significant education inequities, wealth gaps, health disparities, and higher incidences of placement in the child welfare system). The First Star National STEAM Academy (FSNSA) shifted some programming to virtual learning, while at the same time zeroing in on the intersection of social justice and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). Taking the lessons we've learned from our traditional First Star Academy model, The First Star National STEAM Academy, led by technology, grounded in social justice, invites foster youth from all over the country to tap into the possibilities of STEAM. FSNSA aims to increase teenage foster youth engagement in STEAM careers with a series of interactive “Tech Talks” led by prominent STEAM professionals who have similar life experiences and/or backgrounds to our foster youth. This unique approach will assist with validating and affirming each youth’s experiences. The STEAM Academy incorporates complimentary STEAM lab sessions where students have the chance to dive deeper into STEAM topics. Upon completion of the STEAM Academy, scholars will receive a STEAM certificate.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Young adults
Adolescents
Young adults

First Star works with national and local stakeholders, including state government, child welfare agencies and school districts to improve their capacity to serve foster youth. First Star partners with the Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI) at the University of San Diego School of Law to develop and disseminate national Report Cards on foster youth’s right to counsel, disclosure laws and practices regarding child deaths.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of foster youth who completed high school or equivalency

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Adolescents, At-risk youth

Related Program

Foster Youth Academies

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

At First Star, over the past six years, on average, 97% of foster youth scholars who complete the four year First Star Academy program graduate from high school, and 88% go on to post-secondary ed.

Number of foster youth enrolled in college

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Adolescents, At-risk youth

Related Program

Foster Youth Academies

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

On average, 89% of First Star Academy graduates enroll in higher education, the majority of this group enrolls in 4-year programs. We saw declines in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

First Star aims to provide foster youth and children at risk of abuse and neglect with all the necessary supports (both academic and psycho social) to successfully transition into adulthood.

Our Academy Program keeps youth on track for high school graduation and post secondary transitions.

The First Star Academies keep youth on track for high school graduation, and prepare them for higher education and adulthood by providing specialized programming that addresses: (1) academics; (2) life skills; and (3) caregiver and mentor engagement.
Academic Supports
Foster youth have the poorest education outcomes in the country because of school instability and unaddressed special education needs. By third grade, more than 80% are retained, and by eleventh grade, less than 20 percent are proficient in English or Math. Only half of foster youth ever graduate high school, and only three percent earn a college degree.
The Academies reverse these trends for participating youth through targeted academic instruction and education advocacy. During the Summer Academies and monthly sessions, experienced instructors teach the youth grade-specific content and provide remedial supports as needed. These instructors also provide PSAT and SAT/ACT prep to ensure the youth are competitive during the college admissions process. Academies review youths' school records, track their progress towards high school graduation, and identify and secure any supports they need to succeed in school. The Academies strive to work with the youths' caregivers, social workers, attorneys, and schools to develop a coordinated academic plan for high school graduation and admissions to higher education.
Life Skills
Foster youth often lack the skills needed to successfully transition into adulthood. At age 18, they are often expected to independently manage their education, employment, housing, healthcare, and finances without the support of other adults. The Academies develop a life skills workshop curriculum to ensure the youth are prepared for adulthood. Workshops include topics such as higher education, budgeting, identity theft, housing, hygiene, healthy relationships, and substance abuse.
Caregiver and Mentor Engagement
Too often, foster youth repeatedly move placements and exit foster care without any family or permanent adult supports. The Academies strive to work with attorneys and social workers to ensure youth are in appropriate foster homes, and then engage caregivers to ensure they have the supports needed to keep youth in their homes. Where appropriate, biological parents are engaged and supported to help with the reunification process. In addition, by working with local partners, the Academies identify and train adult mentors who provide additional support to the youth as they transition into higher education. The goal of these efforts is to ensure that they youth do not transition into adulthood without a team of adults who can provide ongoing and continued support.

In addition to our staff and board resources, we work in concert with our local child protection agencies, school districts, universities and other stake holders to disseminate best practices and serve the youth who by virtue of their status as wards of the state, are all our responsibilities.

The Academy program was initiated in 2011 with our first cohort of students who became the college graduating class of 2019.

Our first anecdotal college outcome stat far outpaced the current reality that less than 3% of foster youth obtain a college degree. Of our 2011 initial cohort, at least 14% received bachelor's degrees, with additional students obtaining associate degrees and vocational certificates. In 2018 we began an alumni program that better tracks these outcomes.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We have initiated The First Star Scholars Advisory Council (SAC), comprised of foster youth representing First Star Academies from across the country. SAC gives scholars the opportunity to be engaged in program development, social justice and freely share their ideas and opinions.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

FIRST STAR INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

FIRST STAR INC

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Peter Samuelson

Samuelson Productions

Vince Thompson

Middleshift

Adrien Sebro

University of Texas, Austin

Brian Gray

Gursey|Schneider LLP

Michael Cook

Liles Parker PLLC

Glen Friedman

Ideas & Solutions

Judy Hackett

Bryant Stibel

Brian Gray

Gursey Schneider

Kathleen Strottman

Alexandria, VA

Peter Samuelson

Philmco LLC

Stephanie Sperber

Imagine Kids + Family

Janet Rosenzweig

University of Pennsylvania

David Valentine

Goucher College

Linda Gallardo

First Star Alum

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/28/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/28/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.