National Guard Youth Challenge Program: An Overview

Today, I’m going to give you an overview of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program.

Children are the future, and it is our duty to make sure that future shines bright.

Those were the words I used when, several years ago I was involved with helping teenagers get their skate-park rebuilt in Lebanon. Missouri. In doing so, I noticed that several military individuals were also helping.

It is with action that we can make a difference for future generations. By interacting with youngsters, and developing programs to help them grow into responsible adults, we can create a world of morally stable people.

The National Guard Youth Challenge Program

The National Guard has a program that is attacking this need. In today’s post, we are going to examine 14 things you should know about the National Guard Youth Challenge Program. They are listed in no particular order.

1: About the National Guard Youth Foundation

The National Guard Youth Challenge Program is administered by the National Guard Youth Foundation. The Foundation is a 501 (C)(3) non-profit that was formed as an advocate for the National Guard Youth Challenge Program. Their goal is to provide the resources needed so that youth can maintain a successful path beyond their graduation. The motto the Foundation carries is: We Support Second Chances.

2: National Guard Youth Challenge Mission

The National Guard Youth Challenge Program has one primary mission. It is intervening in the lives of at-risk youth by producing program graduates with the skills, values, education and self-discipline to succeed as adults.

3: Primary Components in The National Guard Youth Challenge Program

national guard youth challenge programDuring the time in the program, youth will be involved in courses that will cover these primary components:

  • Academic skills which means either a high school diploma or GED attainment.
  • Physical training
  • Citizenship
  • Leadership skills and followership skills
  • Life coping skills
  • Employment skill training
  • Community service
  • Health and hygiene

4: Program Length

The National Guard Youth Challenge Program has a length of 17 months. The first 5 months are a residential phase, whereas the following 12-month period becomes a mentoring phase. The residential phase uses a quasi-military system.

5: Age & Other Requirements for Challenge Participants

The National Guard Youth Challenge Program accepts both males and females that are 16 to 18 years old and high school drop-outs. The youth must not have any felony convictions, and they have to be completely drug free. The program is completely voluntary, so no youth can be forced to join or participate.

6: The Cost for The National Guard Youth Challenge Program

In these difficult economic times, one of the first questions parents or guardians ask before the youth attends the National Guard Youth Challenge Program is the cost.

It is free for the youth and their parents.  The operation is in cooperation between the state the program is in and the National Guard Bureau. The costs are absorbed by state and federal funding.

7: Further Education Opportunities for Graduates

In an effort to keep helping those who graduate from the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, supporters instituted the Competitive Scholarship Program. Graduates of the program who would like to further their education can apply for a $5,000 scholarship that will renew over a 4-year period creating a total of $20,000. Or the $3,000 scholarship that renews over a 2-year period for a total of $6,000. It can be used at any accredited educational institution the student desires.

8: States & Territories That Offer the National Guard Youth Challenge Program

Many states offer the program and some states offer multiple programs. The states include Alaska, Arkansas, California, Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

9: MDRC Evaluation of The National Guard Youth Challenge Program

The MDRC is an independent organization that performed an evaluation on the National Guard Youth Challenge Program. Their findings showed that in comparison to counterparts, the graduates of the program were more likely to obtain a GED or High School diploma, achieve college credits and have employment. To top it off, graduates were shown to average a 20% higher income in their employment.

10: Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of the National Guard Youth Foundation are:

  • Chairman: Retired Air Force General Craig McKinley
  • Vice Chairman: T. Gail Dady
  • Treasurer: Thomas J. Campbell
  • Secretary: Anita Antenucci

11: Become A Mentor

The National Guard Youth Challenge Program is always interested in having mentors available to work with these young men and women.

12: Corporate Sponsors

The National Guard Youth Challenge Program has attracted the attention of a wide range of Corporate Sponsors. Some of the sponsors include Airbus Group, American Business Development Group, American Securities, Blackberry, BB&T Corporation, Boeing, Boys & Girls Club of America, Bridgestone Tires, Ernst & Young, General Dynamics, General Electric, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, SAIC, & T-Mobile.  Looking at the list, there are close to 100 different sponsors.

13: Celebrities Who Support the Program

There is a plethora of celebrities who also are supporting this great program. They are:

  • Trisha Yearwood
  • Karri Turner
  • Johnny Bench
  • Laura Bryna
  • Kaley Caperton
  • Jay Rockefeller
  • Tyler Reddick
  • Kelly Perdew
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  • Josh Gracin
  • Brooke Eden
  • Randy Houser
  • Jeff Gordon
  • Kofi Kingston

14: How You Can Help

The National Guard Youth Challenge Program relies on support to keep it running strong. So how can you help? You can make a donation through their website, become a corporate partner, donate through CFC, donate part of your Amazon purchase, and several other methods.

Final Words

In these days of so much news about crime, poverty and war, it is refreshing to see that there are military minded individuals helping youth.

We would love to hear your thoughts. Have you been involved with this great program? Did you graduate from it? Tell us below, and to all who are helping these youth…Thank you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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