Scholar Program

Starfish Initiative is Marion County's only program that combines personalized, no-cost, one-on-one "college coach" mentoring for four continuous years as the foundation for supporting academically-promising high school students facing unearned adversity on their path to becoming college graduates.


During the four-year Starfish Experience, Starfish Scholars receive continuous guidance and one-on-one support from individually matched, college-educated mentors who commit to meeting with their Scholar every other week. These mentoring relationships, which serve as the cornerstone of the Starfish model, not only provide students with a positive role model and consistent source of support in addition to the support of their families, they also help prepare students to navigate college and professional environments.


In addition, Starfish Mentors help each Scholar to effectively prepare for personal and academic success by supporting their active participation in the three 3C’s of the Starfish model:

  1. College Readiness/Access

  2. Career

  3. Character


Starfish Initiative is proud to work with parents and guardians as you help your Scholar reach their full potential and become their educational best. Your active participation in the academic life of your Starfish Scholar is extremely important to the success of the program.

Starfish Initiative parents/guardians are responsible for the following:


Starfish values parents and makes every effort to keep parents/guardians regularly informed and involved in activities associated with the Starfish Initiative program.


Parents and guardians of Starfish Scholars agree to support the strong academic performance of their students, to participate in Starfish activities, and do all that is necessary for Scholars to successfully complete high school, gain admittance to college, and earn a college degree.


Read all Starfish Initiative communications to keep updated on program events. Pay special attention to activities planned for your Scholar.

Stay in regular contact with your Scholar’s Match Specialist. Inform him/her of any changes in contact information or family circumstances.

Communicate with your student’s mentor regularly. Parents/guardians work together with the mentor for the Scholar’s benefit. Regular communication also helps to avoid scheduling conflicts. Plan with your student to ensure that family responsibilities do not conflict with school and Starfish activities.


Make sure that your Scholar attends all scheduled Starfish Initiative activities. Ensure that your Scholar attends school daily and on time. Attend report card conferences at your Scholar’s high school. Attend individual conferences with your Scholar, Starfish Initiative staff, and/or mentor as needed. These appointments will be scheduled at mutually convenient times.

Ad Astra Per Aspera 

Per aspera ad astra is a popular Latin phrase meaning "through hardships to the stars".