- Associated Press - Thursday, April 27, 2017

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) - Illinois State University is establishing a new academy to help youth in foster care prepare for and graduate from college.

University officials announced Wednesday that ISU received $250,000 from an anonymous donor and the Department of Children and Family Services to start a First Star Academy. It will provide Saturday classes, year-round mentoring and a four-week summer campus immersion program for high school aged youth raised in the foster care system.

Deneca Avant is an associate professor of social work and the academy’s program director. Avant says the grant “will enable us to help transform lives.”

Less than 3 percent of young people in the foster care system earn bachelor’s degrees.

The academies exist at a handful of U.S. colleges, including Loyola University and the University of California Los Angeles.

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