The University of Central Florida is partnering with Community Based Care of Central Florida and First Star – a national nonprofit serving abused and neglected children – in hosting local foster children on campus in an effort to increase their educational opportunities.

During the month of July, 12 students in grades 8-12 will live on UCF’s campus, immersing themselves in a one-of-a-kind learning experience that includes math and literacy tutoring by UCF education students, field trips and career-oriented workshops.

This intensive summer experience, which is supplemented year-round through monthly active learning experiences, provides youth in foster care with the academic support and encouragement needed to assist them in becoming competitive applicants for subsequent admission to college.

The four-week program, launched in 2014, selects students who demonstrate commitment to their academics and motivation to attend a post-secondary institution. UCF students will work with the youngsters throughout the academic year as well.

“I enjoyed last year’s UCF experience so much that I couldn’t wait to be part of it again this summer,” said Dawnasia, a 16-year-old sophomore who also attends monthly events sponsored by First Star Academy. “Living on campus and being able to bond with other kids my age helped prepare me for what college might be like.”

Research shows that about 70 percent of youth in foster care want to attend college, but only 3 percent will achieve a four-year degree.

“We’re making every effort to move the needle of educational achievement for our foster youth,” said Gerry Glynn, chief legal officer of Community Based Care of Central Florida. “Our focus is helping these students transition to adulthood, succeed in college and launch a successful career.”

College of Education and Human Performance Dean Pamela Carroll praised the partnership.

“We hope that this is the first of many years of collaboration with Community Based Care and First Star to support the academic, social, emotional, and physical health and growth of teens who live in foster care,” she said.