The Academy Project, a new non-profit in Los Angeles that works to improve educational outcomes for foster youth, has begun accepting referrals for its “first-of-its-kind” programs, Camp Xavier, held during the summer months, and The Co-Op, which starts in the fall. Registration for this summer’s Camp Xavier is now open.
There are approximately 22,000 foster youth in Los Angeles County, by far the highest population in the country. According to The Academy Project’s website, fifty percent of foster youth wind up homeless, incarcerated, or institutionalized upon exiting the child welfare system, 46 percent do not achieve a high school diploma (compared with 16 percent of the general population) and only 4 percent receive any higher education.
Lauren Costa, founder and executive director of The Academy Project, says that the upcoming two-week summer camp, Camp Xavier, is the project’s most recent attempt to change this. Camp Xavier is one part of what Costa describes as a three-pronged approach, which also includes the after-school program The Co-Op and an in-school solution, which will launch in September.
The camp has been designed to inspire and educate, by accelerating trust building among the 20 incoming members, all seventh grade foster youth who are most at risk of not completing their high school diplomas.
The first week of Camp Xavier will be held daily, in South Los Angeles, where campers will have the opportunity to meet their peers and staff, and to participate in an array of activities such as arts and crafts, sports, and photography.
The second week of Camp Xavier will be held in the San Bernardino mountains, delivered in partnership with UCLA Unicamp. Campers will participate in new and exciting activities such as mountain biking, swimming, archery, climbing, hiking, volleyball, and fishing.
Members will then start The Co-Op after-school program as a cohort in September.
“Our hope is that we’re going to create a community for these 20 kids,” Costa says. “Foster youth move around like crazy, so they don’t have an anchor point. Our hope is that even if they change schools, they’ll have this after-school program as a home base.”
Members of the public are invited to refer a youth who can benefit from Camp Xavier through The Academy Project’s website.