The mission of the Star Kids Scholarship Program is to provide educational opportunities in the form of tuition aid to effective non-public schools, uniforms, after-school and summer programs, tutoring and mentoring for those high risk, low-income children who have a parent with a history of incarceration and/or substance abuse. Children are typically enrolled in the program between kindergarten and grade 4.
Star Kids’ goal for each child is to graduate from high school. By completing high school and hopefully going on to higher education, these children will have a greater chance of breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty, drug use, disease, depression and violence.
Watch our brief video to hear directly from Star Kids founderTim Flanigan and our students about the impact of Star Kids.
The Star Kids Scholarship Program was founded in 2000 by Dr. Timothy Flanigan, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and HIV and Infectious Diseases Physician at the Miriam and Rhode Island Hospitals. While working at the Rhode Island State Prison caring for substance-abusing women, Dr. Flanigan witnessed the seemingly insurmountable struggles the families encountered, including addiction, unemployment, depression, family disintegration, and homelessness – but their primary concern was their children. The need for a program in which children could escape this terrible cycle was self-evident, and Dr. Flanigan realized that the way to break the cycle of substance abuse in families was rooted in supplying quality education and support for their children.
The Star Kids Scholarship Program was launched in the spring of 2000 to address these at-risk children in the communities of Newport County, RI and Fall River and New Bedford, MA. Suzanne Petronello, M.Ed., was the program’s first Executive Director. Six students were enrolled that year, with the goal of accepting ten new students each year. As the program grew, New Bedford Star Kids officially became its own chapter in 2009, and is now led by Ellen Lough, M.Ed. The need for the Star Kids Program continues to grow, and the Newport/Fall River Chapter, now led by Executive Director, Kathy Giblin Stark.
Star Kids welcomes collaboration with all social service agencies and schools. Currently Star Kids collaborates with many organizations including the following:
Newport County: Head Start, CODAC III, Florence Gray Center, New Visions of Newport County, Child and Family Services of Newport County, DCYF (Department of Children Youth and Families), Tiverton Psychological Services, Psychological Centers, Newport County MentalHealth, Women’s Resource Center, Martin Luther King Center, Newport Partnership for Families and Salve Regina University.
Fall River: SSTAR (Stanley Street Treatment and Resources), Child and Family Services of New Bedford and Fall River, DSS (Department of Social Services), Catholic Social Services, Steppingstones, Family Services.
Ken Moldow, President
Ken Moldow, President of Star Kids Scholarship Program, has been a life-long educator. A teacher and administrator in the NYC School Department and a publisher of Educational Curriculum materials, Ken has been involved with Star Kids from its inception and is proud of the success stories of the many wonderful Stars Kids involved in the program. He has lived by the creed of: “Unless everyone is important, no one is.” Ken and his wife, Roe O’Brien, live in Newport, RI.
Dr. Timothy Flanigan, Founder, President Emeritus
Dr. Flanigan is a member of the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Miriam Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital and Professor of Medicine at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He developed the HIV Core Program at the State Prison to provide care for HIV infected individuals and link them to community based resources upon release. He is also associate director of The Miriam/Brown Fogarty Program which trains and mentors overseas investigators in HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Flanigan is a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Providence, and serves at both St. Theresa’s and St. Christopher’s Churches in Tiverton, Rhode Island. Dr. Flanigan was the recipient of a community health leadership award from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the development of outstanding primary care for underserved HIV infected individuals. In 2005, he received an honorary doctorate from Salve Regina University for his support of educational opportunities for children of incarcerated parents.
Dr. Flanigan went to Liberia for two months in the fall of 2014, where he was instrumental in helping to get the Catholic health clinics, health centers, and hospital up and running again in Monrovia. His expertise in infectious diseases and his many trainings, assessments, mentoring, and guidance were essential in the fight against the spread of Ebola.
Star Kids Scholarship Program Board of Directors
Ken Moldow, President | Timothy Flanigan, M.D., Founder, President Emeritus |
Susie Hill, Vice President | Bill Hall, Treasurer | Jane Fleming, Secretary |
James A. Purviance, Founding Member
Kathy Giblin Stark, Executive Director
Kathy Giblin Stark became executive director of the Newport/Fall River Star Kids Scholarship Program in summer 2016. In this capacity, she directs the educational, administrative and advancement functions of the organization.
Kathy has more than three decades of experience in national and international media relations, marketing communications, education, development and journalism. Most recently, she was assistant director of communications for 10 years at Portsmouth Abbey School, where she also served as a student advisor, oversaw the School’s lecture series, and was a leader of the School’s Appalachia Service Program.
Prior to that, she was a freelance writer/editor for National Geographic Society and National Geographic Channel and was vice president of communications at a Newport-area advertising and marketing agency. Previously, she worked with Duracell Inc., British Oxygen Co. and other global clients on international sailing events, including around-the-world races and The American’s Cup.
Kathy is a longtime active volunteer, national advocate and fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
She is a graduate of Princeton University.
Karen Flanagan, Program Director
As Program Director, Karen Flanagan handles the children’s events, annual fundraising gala and variety of program administration. Prior to joining Star Kids, Karen worked for the Newport Hospitality in event planning, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in fundraising events, and the United Way of RI. Karen’s work as a volunteer in the community and her involvement with local schools, camps, and extra-curricular activities has helped her create opportunities for the children in our program.