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Program Manager, First Star Academy

Job Title: Program Manager, First Star Academy

Pay Rate:  $56,000 per year

Work Schedule: 
Day, 8am-5pm;
One Saturday a month, and some weekends and evenings in the summer.
Flexible schedule available during occasional evening/weekend work.

Job Summary

This position is responsible for managing and organizing the University of Utah’s chapter of First Star Academy—a long-term college-prep program for youth in foster care that includes immersive residential summers on a university campus and monthly sessions during each school year. The successful candidate will bring leadership and enthusiasm to the role and a deep commitment to supporting the success of students experiencing foster care.

First Star Academy is housed within the Undergraduate Studies’ Office of Engagement, which promotes college access for students throughout Utah. Individuals with direct lived experience or relevant experience working with youth-in-care are strongly encouraged to apply.
Full consideration will be given to applicants who apply on or before the priority review date of December 3, 2023.
  • Oversee day-to-day program operations, administrative functions, program activities, and student services offered through First Star Academy.
  • Manage a caseload of pre-college youth-in-care participating in the First Star program with a holistic focus. Duties include monitoring program participation, requirements, and academic progress, as well as maintaining detailed notes on all student interactions.
  • Interpret, apply, and explain policies and regulations that may be sensitive, confidential, or complex in nature to staff and student participants; advocate for and empower First Star students in the process.
  • Complete mandatory Youth Protection and Program Support trainings and ensure compliance with all policies and regulations related to the protection of minors participating in the First Star program.
  • Provide direct intervention and support to students when needed, including serving as a case manager and providing referrals to community partners, ensuring basic needs are met, and maintaining regular contact with program participants.
  • Partner closely with the national First Star Academy office and with other state foster care and affiliated organizations such as the Division of Child & Family Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Transition to Adult Living program, and Utah State Board of Education.
  • Create and track program budgets; Develop and implement unit-specific financial goals and work with division leadership to perform strategic planning for the program.
  • Prepare financial and programmatic reports for internal and external use as requested.
  • Supervise two First Star Program Coordinators and help to ensure their professional development is prioritized.
  • Manage approximately 20 Youth Coaches, as well as interns, and Social Work Practicum students both during the summer academy and with a significantly reduced supervisory load during the academic year. Ensure all staff and interns are set up for success within First Star as well as in their professional goals.
  • In collaboration with the program coordinators, plan and execute Summer Academy, a four-week residential summer program. This management includes but is not limited to: recruiting and hiring Youth Coaches, planning meals, designing educational and recreational experiences, and coordinating with campus partners to ensure access, such as housing and residential education and commuter services.
  • Prepare and/or update program materials as needed, such as program website, listserv, bulletins, newsletters, handbooks, policy guides, fact sheets, brochures, and related communications.
  • Work collaboratively with the Impact Scholars Program Manager to craft an individualized plan for First-Star seniors hoping to transition to the University of Utah or another institution of higher education in the state.

Minimum Qualifications

Bachelor’s degree in a related field plus two years of related experience or equivalency (one year of education can be substituted for two years of related work experience). Demonstrated human relations and effective communication skills also required.

Applicants must demonstrate the potential ability to perform the essential functions of the job as outlined in the position description.


  • Lived experience with the foster care system or relevant experience supporting youth-in -care.
  • Extensive knowledge of youth-in-care in Utah and awareness of the unique challenges faced by this population in completing secondary education.
  • Experience working with minors.
  • Demonstrated commitment to educational equity.
  • Demonstrated ability to engage collaborative teams and partner effectively across shared values and outcomes.

For more information or to apply, please click here.

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Last Updated: 12/12/23