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KVC West Virginia

Youth Educational Support – First Star Academy

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Empowering West Virginia Youth

Nationally, more than 19,000 18-year-olds age out of foster care without finding a permanent family or home. Nationwide, only half of youth in foster care graduate high school and less than three percent graduate college. Youth who age out of foster care without a permanent family or home often face overwhelming life challenges such as homelessness, incarceration and/or chronic unemployment.

To prevent these challenges, KVC has partnered with First Star, a national nonprofit, to create First Star Academy of West Virginia. Together, KVC and First Star provide youth in foster care the academic, life skills, career exploration, and adult supports they need to successfully transition to higher education and adulthood.

Get An Inside Look at First Star Academy

First Star Academy of West Virginia will support the mindful growth and development of over 30 youth over four years (grades 8-12) and positively alter the trajectory of West Virginia’s most vulnerable youth – those in the foster care system.

This program is offered at no cost to students who qualify and is sponsored by the generous donations of our local funders, the Department of Education, and the West Virginia Department of Human Services (formerly DHHR).

Apply Now

Academy Goals:

  • Help all participating youth remain on track for high school graduation, and satisfy the requirements to gain admissions to higher education;
  • Provide all participating youth with the resources and supports to successfully transition to and succeed in higher education;
  • Equip all participating youth with the life skills and access to resources necessary to prepare them for the transition to independence and adulthood; and
  • Engage caregivers and other adults who can provide long-term support to participating youth both before, and as they transition to higher education and adulthood.

Program Resources

Students will gain access to invaluable resources that will improve their high school experiences and outcomes. They will also learn about post-secondary or technical/trade education opportunities. Some of these resources include:

  • Monthly Saturday Academies featuring experiential, hands-on learning and exploration focused on life-skills and career readiness
  • Two-week immersive summer camp at Fairmont State University and Experience Learning
  • Life skills classes
  • Care and case management
  • Mental health/behavioral health therapy
  • Other individualized supports

Academy Requirements     Apply Now

First Star Success Stories

first star academy west virginia Teen Boy Finds Second Family Through KVC’s First Star Academy

Before enrolling in KVC’s First Star Academy, Daren was shy and struggling in foster care after experiencing trauma and an unsupportive biological family. Through unwavering support from his foster mom and KVC professionals, coupled with meaningful connections with peers who understood his experiences, Daren found success, a sense of belonging and a second family. Read the Daren’s full story here.


first star academy

Grieving Boy Finds Hope & Support for His Dreams with Help from KVC’s First Star Academy

As young teen Jack struggled under the crushing grief of the loss of his mother, his grades dropped. KVC West Virginia’s First Star Academy stepped in to help him succeed academically and dream about his future. Read more.

KVC First Star Academy

First Star Academy Partners

KVC First Star Academy

First Star

First Star is a national nonprofit, improves the lives of youth in foster care by partnering with child welfare agencies, universities, and school districts to ensure youth in foster care have the academic, life skills, and adult supports needed to transition to higher education and adulthood successfully. First Star pursues its mission through innovative, university-based college-preparatory programs, providing technical assistance to stakeholders, and advocating for policy change. Ninety-eight percent of First Star students graduate high school and 90 percent enroll in higher education via two- or four-year colleges or vocational schools.


KVC partners with Fairmont State University to provide youth with the opportunity to explore higher education.Fairmont State University

Fairmont State University is a comprehensive, student-centered, state-supported institution offering dozens of certificate and degree programs at the associate, bachelor, and master levels via 41-degree programs and over 90 fields of study.

Fairmont State turns opportunity, passion, and hard work into excellence in a vibrant, close-knit campus community where students and teachers become friends for life.


KVC First Star AcademyFairmont State University’s NASA Educational Resource Center (ERC)

Through a partnership with Fairmont State University, the NASA IV&V Education Resource Center (ERC) provides resources and training opportunities to prepare thousands of excellent new K-12 teachers by 2020, and support the existing teacher workforce. The ERC provides in-service, pre-service, and informal educators with an easily accessible source of materials that reflect NASA’s current research and technology in Earth and Space sciences.


KVC First Star AcademyExperience Learning

Experience Learning has been delivering outdoor experiential learning opportunities to youth since 1972. Beyond their mountain campus on top of Spruce Knob, they design and deliver nature-based programming to schools and communities across the state. At the root of all of their programs is a vision of a world where individuals have the competence and confidence to bring positive change in their own lives, the lives of others, their communities, and the world around them. For the First Star WV program, Experience Learning will be implementing the Mayfly Project, a national program that uses fly fishing as a catalyst to mentor and support children in foster care. The mission of The Mayfly Project is to provide support for children in the foster care system through fly fishing. This project will teach participants basic fly-fishing principles, educate them on their local water ecosystems and conservation ethics, gift them with the appropriate gear to continue fly fishing, and provide mentorship throughout the project outings.