Kentucky Youth ChalleNGe

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The Kentucky National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is an evidence-based program designed to provide opportunities to adolescents who have dropped out of school but demonstrate a desire to improve their potential for successful and productive lives.

In 1993, the National Guard founded the Youth ChalleNGe Program to give troubled youth the opportunity to turn their lives around. A voluntary, preventive program, the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program (NGYCP) helps young people improve their life skills, education levels and employment potential. Sixteen-to-18-year-old male and female high school dropouts are eligible to apply for the 17-month program, which includes a five-month residential phase followed by a 12-month mentoring phase.

Measurable Outcomes

Led by professionals who emphasize structure, discipline, education and life skills, the Youth ChalleNGe Program provides those who drop out of school the chance to grow into productive and accomplished young adults. MDRC, a social policy research organization, recently concluded a multi-year evaluation of the Youth ChalleNGe Program and found it significantly improves the educational attainment, employability and income earning potential of those who participate in the program.

A recent RAND Corporation cost-benefit analysis found the Youth ChalleNGe Program generates $2.66 in benefits for every dollar expended on the program, a return on investment of 166 percent. This return is substantially above that for other rigorously evaluated social programs that target disadvantaged youth. Recently, Promising Practices Network identified the ChalleNGe Program as a “proven” program.

Authorization and Oversight

Authorized and funded through the Department of Defense, National Guard Bureau is responsible for management and oversight of the 35 ChalleNGe academies that have graduated more than 120,000 participants to date.

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