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How the STAR Initiative is changing lives

The STAR Initiative with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley was created after a CHAT plunge focusing on the African American/Black experience in the Fox Cities.  Through dedication to community partnership and advocacy, STAR has worked with the Appleton Area School District to provide academic, social, and cultural support for Black middle and high school students. From February 2018 through May 2021, the STAR program also served Menasha Joint School District students.

Since 2018, STAR’s presence in the schools has enhanced representation, school culture, and contributed to a sense of belonging for more than 550 Scholars that report feeling supported, empowered, and part of a learning community. A survey found 95% of scholars agreed that STAR helped them solve problems and reach goals, and 93% said that working with STAR inspired them to see new possibilities for their future.

STAR stayed consistent in serving families throughout the pandemic and saw 90% of scholars graduate despite unprecedented barriers caused by the pandemic.  This team of nine team members, all working in the schools and led by Kayla McNamara, is dedicated to putting Scholars first and making sure they see their bright future ahead.

Here’s what two STAR students had to say:

I first became aware of STAR through my mother’s employment with the program. Watching her support Black students in the school district made me want to have the opportunity to have my voice heard as well. Because of STAR I am able to socialize with a room full of African Americans, unlike usual circumstances. As a Black Magellan student, STAR means help when I need it, participating in fun events and snacks when I’m hungry. – Peyton Williams, Middle School STAR Scholar

Being a new student at North High School my sophomore year, I decided to join the Step Team where I learned about STAR. At the time my school’s STAR Coordinator couldn’t take on more students but she was always there if I needed help or advice. My senior year a spot opened up and I gladly joined. My STAR Coordinator helps me apply to college and scholarships and makes the experience fun.  – Romona-Shae Blake, High School STAR Scholar

We thank these donors who contributed nearly $970,000 through their funds from within the Community Foundation to support STAR since program’s creation in 2018:

Bright Idea Fund
Women’s Fund Endowment Fund
U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs
Mielke Family Foundation
Community Health Action Team (CHAT) Fund
Ethel Keller Fund for Women
Alan and Lori Loux Fund
Les and Dar Stumpf Family Fund
Anonymous Fund

We’re featuring a series of articles from local authors celebrating our diversity in the Fox Valley. Want more stories like these? Sign up to get in The Loop. And don’t forget to invite a friend to get in The Loop! 

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