About Challenge

We Support Second Chances

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is an evidence-based program designed to provide opportunities to adolescents who have left school before earning a high school diploma but demonstrate a desire to improve their potential for successful and productive lives. In 1993, the National Guard founded ChalleNGe after a series of studies and extensive research was conducted on how to help youth who were neither in school nor working. A voluntary, preventive program, ChalleNGe helps young people improve their self-esteem, self-confidence, 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. Click here to find a program near you. You can also read frequently asked questions here.

Measurable Outcomes

Led by professionals who emphasize structure, discipline, education and life skills, ChalleNGe provides those who leave school early with the chance to grow into productive and independent 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 40 ChalleNGe academies that have graduated more than 145,000 participants to date.