STARS earn 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

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STARS earn 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

We are very pleased to announce that STARS has received the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for demonstrating strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency. This is the first time we have received this honor.

In Tennessee, 43 not for profits received the 4 star-rating, of these, 17 were human services related organizations. In addition to STARS  the following local groups, with budgets between $3.5-$15M, received this rating along with STARS. They are: The Boys and Girls Club, Family and Children’s Services, Safe Haven Family Shelters, Graceworks, Martha O’Bryan Center, Mercy Multiplied, The Nashville Rescue Mission, and The Next Door.

This honor reflects the leadership of our dedicated Board of Directors who have always placed the highest value on integrity and transparency. Their oversight, leadership and involvement are the reasons we have received this rating. We know that without having a board asking all the right questions, reviewing all our information and caring so deeply about the integrity of the organization, helped us receive this 4-star rating.

Check out the full report here.

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A Letter Dedicated to Dr. Arliss Roaden

Dr. Arliss L. Roaden, age 85, of Nashville, a member of the STARS Board of Directors, recently passed away. As his obituary stated, he was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather.
Dr. Roaden was an educator, at all times. He had a long and distinguished career, formally serving as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, as well as President of Tennessee Technological University.

His list of accomplishments is far too long to list in this space.
Arliss meant so much to all of us at STARS. He was a former Chair of the Board and member of the Executive Committee several times. He was a voice of calm, reasoned approaches to issues, and a brilliant problem solver. He was always extremely optimistic, pleasant even in his dissents. Arliss was a master of conflict management.

I had the privilege of attending his celebration of life service last week. What I heard from all those that served with him in educational institutions, those who worshipped with him and served as his pastor, reminded me what a mentor, dedicated and faithful man this gentleman, Arliss Roaden, really was to all he encountered

Most importantly, it was priceless to hear from his granddaughter about what kind of granddad and man he really was. He was deeply loved and always took the time to do things that are really important, such as spend time with those he loved, enjoy the moments with his family and treasure the most important thing in life -relationships.

Arliss loved rocks and stones. References were made by those that spoke of him as a “rock”. Arliss was indeed a “rock” to his family. He was the same for all of us at STARS. Our thoughts will be with Mary Etta, his loving wife of 65 years, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We will miss you, Arliss!


P. Rodger Dinwiddie

Importance of Providing Trauma Informed Care


Imagine a female whose runaround in the foster care system began when she was only two years old. Her mother, an addict, struggled and eventually lost custody of her nine year old daughter due to neglect. The daughter is now sixteen with a brain traumatized by the early loss of her mother. To survive, she has learned to be hyper-vigilant; she is always on her guard, watching for harm. She responds to a ringing phone much the same as to a car crash. The smallest incident can produce floods of stress hormones in her brain, prompting a “fight or flight” response. Her life is lived in anxiety and fear, whether she recognizes it or not.

Now imagine this girl discovering a “magical substance.” This potion replaces her fear and anxiety with an overwhelming sensation of well-being. She is cradled in the arms of a benevolent being that soothes her and says, “Nothing bad will ever happen again.” It is as though the sun has risen in her soul.

Does this sound dramatic? It should. Trauma is, by definition, dramatic. And traumatized teens often learn to abuse drugs to escape those feelings of anxiety and fear. That’s one reason it’s so hard to get them to stop.

It’s a fact! Though the moment may be brief and the cost great, traumatized teens abuse drugs because drugs make them feel better—until the impact of substance abuse on their developing brains manifests itself in a never-ending spiral of even more trauma, and all hope of escape fades.

STARS’S gender-specific intensive outpatient program for females 13-18—exists for this reason.

By providing trauma-informed substance abuse treatment in a safe, female-only setting, STARS gives young women a new option for living. They learn skills to self-regulate without drugs, grow healthy relationships, practice safe sex, and build self-esteem. STARS helps them build resilience and find the courage to change.

STARS’S YODA-Girls meets at the Youth Opportunity Center at 1704 Charlotte Avenue Suite 200, Nashville, TN 37203

For intake and more information call 615 983-6819 or 615 983-6809.

Are you interested in learning more about childhood trauma?

Head on over to read guest blogger, Jennifer Drake-Croft’s contribution on our blog about compassion and trauma. 

Young Artists Are Not Just a Sound Bite

I want to begin with a young artist who has always inspired me, Jean Michel Basquiat.

Young Artists are Not Just a Sound Bite

Basquiat was a highly intelligent, teenage graffiti artist, known by other street artists as ”Samo,” His curated mark-making and sayings on public buildings around Manhattan were numerous and impossible to ignore due to his use of events, vocabulary and lettering. By the late 70s Basquiat had achieved a kind of cult status amongst the East Village hipsters. His choices were informed, intelligent, highly individualistic and not about claiming space but cultivating thought through careful placement and idea sharing. Eventually he began to use television images, comic-book heroes, fragments from the Bible, slogans; he appropriated it all into his work. Art at the time was intellectualized and devoid of humanity. When Basquiat took his work from the street to canvases inside galleries, he could barely keep up with the demand. His jazzy, improvisational paintings, influenced by masters like Matisse, Picasso and Twombly, breathed life back into a sterile art world. Especially his colorful triptych painting Notary, which was thirteen feet of words and images scrolling the panels connecting his own personal stories with pop culture.


Jean Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960, and died August 12, 1988, at only 27 years old. The impact Basquiat made on contemporary art in the 1980s and thereafter is undeniably epic.


The American education system is known for producing the best and brightest minds in the world. Our curriculums’ push towards the study of math, science, technology, medicine and law. Our curriculum is losing its focus on the arts as a valuable piece to help our students invent, communicate and problem solve in creative ways. The arts and musical education are devalued and dismissed as a legitimate pathway to successful life. The arts matter! We must create more opportunities for young minds like Basquiat to grow and change the world.


According to, “Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education. Much like expert technical skills, mastery in arts and humanities is closely correlated to high earnings.”


I know the arts help create community and transform academic spaces while maintaining cultural heritage and building voice. This is not a short quote, this is not a sound bite, the arts make America memorable, exciting and innovative. The arts will always be the secret ingredient the American educational system has over the rest of the world. Giving permission to think outside the box while exploring opportunities for youth to be creative is essential to being a better country. Together through art we will change the world.

Happy Youth Art Month…#dostuff and go make a difference!

To learn more about Andee Rudloff visit her website. 

10 Rudloff

STARS Literacy Programs 2016

Research shows when an activity is fun, we tend to perform better. At STARS, we believe, we can make reading a fun activity and impact the community by improving reading proficiency!

Services for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) – Literacy Program

Thanks to funding provided by Community Enhancement Fund, STARS was able to develop a program focused on Literacy for the deaf and hard of hearing students we serve. STARS DHH – Literacy program works individually and in small groups with students who are deaf or hard of hearing to improve their reading comprehension, writing skills and sign language proficiency. Additionally, we work with teachers and parents on best practices to assess and support the students in these areas.

The program currently provides services to 12 deaf and hard of hearing students in three different schools: Hillsboro High School, West End Middle and Eakin Elementary School. Using the Fairview Literacy program, we meet with each student weekly, either individually or in a small group.  The program focuses on improving reading comprehension, writing skills, sign language proficiency, bridging multiple meaning words and conceptual signing of topics and items translating from English to American Sign Language.

One unique aspect of this program is the lessons are specifically customized to meet the students at their level of learning, as well as incorporate their individual interests.

Kids on the Block – Literacy Program

Kids on the Block (KOB) is excited to partner with Shwab Elementary in piloting a six-week literacy program focusing on reading as a fun activity. Based on over 30 years of experience in classrooms, we believe this new literacy program will help bridge the gap for many young people who feel intimidated by reading.

During the six-week pilot program, KOB will take groups of Tier 2 students and work with them to help increase their reading scores. We will begin with an educational puppetry presentation for the entire group of students. The Kids on the Block presentation helps children understand choice in the reading process as well as the social and emotional aspects of the difficulties of being a reader that is behind their peers. The students will work in small groups, as well as pair up, to read with each other. At the end of the program, the students will walk away with two books chosen for them, and a third book of their choosing, as research shows when a child chooses a book in which they are interested, it increases their chances of being a better reader.

So, with the use of puppets, educators, hardworking kids and a lot of compassion and enthusiasm, Kids on the Block is working to help students in Middle Tennessee to have bigger and brighter futures!