WASHINGTON – The National Guard's Youth ChalleNGe program – which includes the one at Camp Minden – will benefit from a Department of Defense funding bill totaling $145 million, according to the office of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
"This is $10 million more than last year," Landrieu said.
The bill now heads to the full Appropriations Committee for its expected approval Thursday.
The program is a public-private partnership with the National Guard that intervenes with high school dropouts and youth that have lost their way and produces program graduates with the values, life skills, education and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens.
"Louisiana has three of the most prominent programs in the country, graduating nearly 1,400 cadets each year," Landrieu said. They are located at Camp Minden, Camp Beauregard and Carville.
Graduates from the program have a better likelihood of furthering their education and securing a job. More than 9,000 cadets graduate from the program each year across the country.
"One million students drop out of school, some at the age of 12, each year—more than the populations of New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, combined," Landrieu said. "Few programs have the high success rate of the
Youth ChalleNGe Program and help youth who have lost their way get back on track.
"Graduates of the ChalleNGe program are more likely to go on and earn a high school diploma, GED or obtain college credits," she continued. "And, most importantly, they are more likely to secure a job to build a prosperous future for themselves, their families and their community. This program has the support of Democratic and Republican members of Congress and governor's across the country, and it is a sound investment in our youth and country's future."
Earlier this year, Landrieu's office announced that Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench agreed to serve as a national spokesman for the program.
Every year, nearly one million students drop out of school, costing our economy $1.8 billion in lost revenue annually. ChalleNGe, found in two independent studies by MDRC and RAND to be cost-effective and successful in reengaging youth to complete their high school education, is a voluntary, second-chance program for youth who've dropped out of school. ChalleNGe has helped more than 120,000 youth since its inception in 1993. NGYF provides scholarships and facilitates internships and job opportunities for its graduates.