Youth Challenge program stepping stone to higher education

Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Do you know a young person that wants to go to college or vocational school but can’t? Maybe they’re having trouble at school or just fitting in? As the old saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The Kentucky National Guard Youth Challenge Program offers scholarship opportunities for both college and vocational technical schools. Cadets from both the Bluegrass Challenge Academy at Fort Knox and the Appalachian Challenge Academy in Harlan have gone on to attend more than two dozen institutions, including Eastern Kentucky University, ITT Tech, Louisville Tech, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University and Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology.

Appalachian Challenge Academy Graduation Class IIISponsors include BAE Systems, Dennis Elsey Memorial, FLW Outdoors, Fund-A-Future, I-High, Merrill Lynch, Wal-Mart and the National Guard Youth Challenge Foundation.

“Kentucky’s Youth Challenge program presents some wonderful opportunities for young people who are having trouble getting started in life,” said Maj. Jake McKinney, Education Officer for the Kentucky National Guard. “We’ve developed some great partnerships with organizations who believe in today’s youth and are committed to making a difference in their lives.”

The Challenge Program itself is the equivalent to an $18,000 scholarship, said McKinney.

“We are basically paying young people to help themselves,” he said.

130522-Z-GN092-169Jointly funded between the federal government and the Commonwealth of Kentucky and sponsored by the Kentucky National Guard, Youth ChalleNGe is designed to help youth, ages 16-18, get a jump start on life.

The 22-week credit recovery program is geared toward completing a high school diploma as well as physical fitness, leadership and community awareness projects. The program has been around for nearly 20 years. More than 100,000 cadets have graduated from the program nation-wide.

Basic qualifications for admission include:

  • Applicants must be between the ages of 16-18 on class start date (Jan 2015)
  • Free of illegal drugs
  • A high school student failing to progress toward completion or a high school dropout who has not received a secondary school diploma, GED certificate, or equivalent from another program
  • Mentally and physically capable to participate
  • Not under indictment or convicted of a felony offense
  • The program is 100% free for qualified applicants. Spring classes begin January 11, 2015.

There are currently two Youth Challenge academies in Kentucky — the Bluegrass Challenge Academy is located at Fort Knox while Harlan is home to the Appalachian Challenge Academy.

For more information visit kyyouthchallenge.org

You can also call:

  • Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy: Josh Coldiron – 502-607-5951
  • Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy: Patrick Yewell – 502-607-5901

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