First Star College of Staten Island

  • Staten Island



2800 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island
New York
United States

About Us

Foster Youth in New York City

There are over 400,000 foster youth in the United States, and 10,000 in New York City. Once removed from their parents’ care because of abuse or neglect, our society assumes legal responsibility to ensure that all foster youth have the supports needed to successfully transition to adulthood. Unfortunately, these youth experience an average of 8 home and school changes while in foster care. Only half graduate high school and less than three percent earn a college degree. Hundreds of foster youth age out of foster care in New York City each year unprepared for independence. Instead, within two years of aging out of foster care, more than half are homeless, incarcerated, or on welfare. Each youth who drops out of high school, and becomes involved with drugs or crime, costs society an estimated $2 million.


First Star Academies

First Star partners with universities 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 case management to the youth and their families to sustain the progress youth make during the university-immersion sessions. First Star shows foster youth that they belong on a college campus, and helps them get there. The university becomes a second home that inspires and enables them.


The First Star Academies currently serve approximately 300 youth across eight universities in California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, DC, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois and New York. The First Star Academies have significantly improved the outcomes of participating youth across the country. 100% of Academy youth graduate high school, and more than 90% enroll in higher education.


CUNY- College of Staten Island Academy

First Star has partnered with the City University of New York-Staten Island (“CSI”) and the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to establish an Academy for foster youth from the NYC Metro area. The First Star CSI Academy will select 30 ninth grade foster youth to participate in four years of Academy programming. The youth will be identified and recommended by ACS and select foster care agencies.  The CSI Academy will 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 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 CSI Academy will reverse these trends for participating youth through targeted academic instruction and education advocacy. During the Summer Academies and monthly sessions, English and Math instructors will teach the youth grade-specific content and provide remedial supports as needed. These instructors will also provide PSAT and SAT/ACT prep to ensure the youth are competitive during the college admissions process. The Academy Director will 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. They will also enforce the youths’ education rights at school, ensuring that the youth are not penalized because of their foster youth status.


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 will develop a life skills workshop curriculum to ensure the youth are prepared for adulthood. Workshops will include topics such as higher education, budgeting, identity theft, housing, hygiene, healthy relationships, and substance abuse.


Caregiver Engagement

Too often, foster youth repeatedly move placements and exit foster care without any family or permanent adult supports. The CSI Academy will 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 CSI Academy will identify and train adult mentors who will 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.


For more information, contact Senemeht Olatunji, First Star CSI Academy Director at