Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy


aka First Star

Los Angeles, CA


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



Peter GW Samuelson

Main Address

2049 Century Park East Suite 4320

Los Angeles, CA 90067 USA


foster care, children's rights, education





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (R01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (P05)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

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

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Foster Youth Academies

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

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.

Progress is tracked by participating youth's high school graduation rates, and transistion to higher education.

99% of First Star Academy graduates have graduated high school.
91% of First Star Academy graduates have continued to higher education.

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

We anticipate that our first college outcome stat will far out pace the current reality that less than 3% of foster youth obtain a college degree. We will not arrive at this conclusion until the summer of 2019.

External Reviews



Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

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  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2015
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


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?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Race & Ethnicity

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.


This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity