Adjutant General Tonini Appointed as Advisor to National Guard’s At-risk Youth Program

Story by Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht, Director of Public Affairs, Kentucky National Guard

Cadets from the Bluegrass Challenge Academy on a visit to the Kentucky State Capitol Building during Sept. 2011.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — General Craig R. McKinley, director of the National Guard Bureau, has announced the appointment of Maj. General Edward Tonini, the adjutant general of Kentucky, to the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program General Officer Advisory Council (GOAC) Board.

Tonini joins four other adjutants general to form the GOAC.  They will collectively provide the Guard Bureau counsel, advice and strategic focus regarding the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program.

In Tonini’s appointment letter McKinley thanked the generals for their strategic oversight and attention to this program. “I look forward to working closely with you in taking this program to the next level,” McKinley’s statement read.

The ChalleNGe Program is a community-based program that mentors and trains at-risk youth by utilizing military values, codes of conduct and discipline. According to the NGYCP website, “The mission of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16-18 year old high school dropouts, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens.”

In 1993 the ChalleNGe Program began a three-year pilot program in fifteen states throughout the U.S. Today, Kentucky is one of twenty-eight states with a Youth ChalleNGe program. Located on Fort Knox, the Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy has graduated more than 1,600 students since it opened in July 1999.  In July 2012 Kentucky will open a second Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Harlan to better serve youth in Eastern Kentucky.

Since its inception the ChalleNGe Program has helped more than 100,000 youth nationwide receive high school diplomas, GEDs, and become successful members of their community’s work force.

For more information on the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, go to:  http://www.ngycp.org.

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