Today, Congressman Jerry McNerney's (D-Stockton) amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014 to request additional funding for the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The amendment directs the Department of Defense to approve an additional $10 million for the program within its budget. Youth ChalleNGe targets teenagers who have dropped out of high school and provides them with the life skills and education needed to help them turn their lives around.
"Today, nearly 25 percent of our nation's youth fail to attain a high school diploma. Without a high school diploma or GED, many young adults are more likely to become unemployed, live in poverty, receive public assistance, have poorer health, and serve time in the criminal justice system. The National Guard's Youth ChalleNGe Program addresses these issues by helping set them on a path for a productive future," said Congressman McNerney.
The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program consists of a 5 1/2-month quasi-military Residential Phase conducted in residential facilities located on active or closed National Guard bases, a National Guard training center, or a school campus, followed by a 12-month Post-Residential Phase with mentoring.
This program gives candidates a physical fitness regimen, instills a code of conduct, has them complete community service, and provides an academic program that prepares candidates for the G.E.D. given at the end of the Residential Phase. Candidates also develop a Life Plan that outlines their 12-month Post-Residential plan. The 12-month Post-Residential Phase ensures that mentors, matched with cadets during the Residential Phase, play a critical role in ensuring their continued success in college, the military or other opportunities.
"The Youth ChalleNGe Program is a great example of an evidence-based federal program that shows positive and concrete results by partnering with state and local entities. Investing in this program will help some of our most at-risk youth, and I commend my colleagues on adopting this amendment," said Congressman McNerney.
The Youth ChalleNGe program has been statistically proven to be one of the Nation's most effective means for prevention of delinquency and involvement in criminal activities. A cost-benefit analysis conducted by RAND Corporation determined that it is cost-effective, with a return on investment of $2.66 for every dollar spent. The program currently operates at 34 sites in 27 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It is funded through a federal/state partnership, with the federal government contributing 75 percent. Each class typically accommodates an average of 100 participants and has produced approximately 115,000 graduates since its inception in 1993.
"We applaud Congressman Jerry McNerney's support of this critical program and his recognition of how important the National Guard's Youth ChalleNGe program is for at-risk youth in California, especially California's Central Valley. This funding would allow the California National Guard to assist at-risk youth to acquire the fundamental education and life skills they need to help turn their lives around. I want to personally thank Congressman McNerney for his support and advocacy of our young adults." - Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General, California National Guard
The amendment was cosponsored by Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.).