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STARBASE began in 1989 at Selfridge Air National Guard Base when Barbara Koscak, a local educator, shared her revolutionary education concept with Brigadier General David T. Arends (ret.), who was then commander of the 127th Fighter Wing. Brigadier General Arendts embraced the idea and gave his blessing to create the program. The following year, Lieutenant Colonel Richard ("Rico") Racosky (ret.), former F-16 pilot with the 107th Fighter Squadron and creator of the goal-setting and self-esteem program dreams + action = Reality®, and Rick Simms, a local university student, came on board to complete the development team.
With a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in 1991, the dream to create a program responsive to the needs of today's youth became a reality. The program's first year success came from the hard work and involvement of nearly 70 military volunteers from Selfridge. The curricula of stimulating hands-on math and science activities, goal setting skills, and drug demand reduction proved to be an impressive method. Intended to reach 200 students, this first year's program touched the lives of over 2,000 potential leaders of tomorrow.
After the first year, Michigan's U.S. Senator Carl Levin, responding to a letter of support from the commander of the Air National Guard, Lieutenant General John Conaway (ret.), sought the additional support of Sentator Sam Nunn of Georgia. In the summer of 1992, the Senators presented the STARBASE program to Congress for funding under the Department of Defense (DoD) budget. In Fiscal Year 1993, Congress signed legislation, making STARBASE an official, federally-funded Department of Defense program.
As a DoD-sponsored program, STARBASE has continued to enhance its partnerships with local schools, focusing on fifth and sixth grade students. Today, more than 35 STARBASE sites exist across the United States and Puerto Rico.