What We Do

Starfish Initiative is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of at-risk and economically disadvantaged high school students. We assist students of promise overcome the barriers of poverty and develop cultural capacity and leadership skills that prepare them to graduate from high school and college. Our goal is to “fill empty caps and gowns” by improving graduation rates in Indianapolis.

  • Starfish provides intensive one-on-one mentoring and coaching: Each Starfish Scholar is matched with an adult mentor who makes a two year commitment to meet with their Scholar every other week. These mentors serve as a “life or college coach” to keep Scholars working toward achievement of their goals – graduation from high school and from college. Thorough orientation and on-going mentor training enables mentors to form meaningful relationships with Scholars to enhance their success. For more information about mentoring, contact Starfish Intiative, at 317.955.7912, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fill out our online application.

  • Starfish offers leadership training and college access, admission and retention programming. Leadership Camp curriculum has included “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens." Yearly, Leadership Camp offers a new curriculum and simulates going away to college. We also offer free personality type and career interest inventories to guide our Scholars toward an earlier determination of an appropriate major in college and, ultimately, career.

  • Starfish motivates low-income youth and parents to understand that college is an option: As an eighth-grade student, each Starfish Scholar meets the income requirements to receive a Twenty-first Century Scholars’ Scholarship from the State of Indiana. Starfish develops partnerships with colleges and universities to ensure that students are prepared to take advantage of this scholarship opportunity. We work with the families of our first generation college students to understand the commitment involved in completing a four-year college education.


We recruit eighth-grade students by working with community centers, churches, private, charter, magnet and public schools to identify students with potential to benefit from participation in the Starfish Initiative. Our application process is open to the public, but we are selective in choosing students as “Starfish Scholars.”


Starfish Initiative accepts new rising-freshman Scholars every year. In order to be eligible, applicants must be currently in the eighth grade, have passed both parts of the ISTEP in their seventh grade year, carry a 2.5 or better GPA and be accepted as a Twenty-first Century Scholar. Please contact Nancy Rairdon at 317.955.7912 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., if you have questions regarding your eligibility or to receive a Scholar application.