By By Edwin Wriston, West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office
| Feb. 6, 2020
Cadets with Class 54 of the West Virginia Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy (MCA) visit the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., January 29, 2020. Cadets met with Delegates and Senators, sharing their personal stories, and thanking the legislators for their continued support of the MCA. Since 1993, more than 4,660 young men and women from throughout West Virginia have completed the MCA program, recently named the National Guard Youth Foundation's Program of the Year for 2019. (Photo by Edwin L. Wriston)
Governor Jim Justice has been notified that the West Virginia National Guard’s Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy has been named as the National Guard Youth Foundation’s Program of the Year for 2019.
The National Guard Youth Foundation (NGYF), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, advocates for ChalleNGe programs throughout the United States and provides resources to the programs and its graduates to ensure a pathway to success.
“The MCA has truly changed the lives of so many kids over the years, it’s absolutely amazing, and I’m so proud that such a deserving program has been given this national honor,” Governor Justice stated. “I’ve said for a long time that our children are the greatest treasures we have in West Virginia and the leg-up the ChalleNGe Academy gives our kids is off the charts.”
Launched in 1993, the mission of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program (NGYCP) is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of at-risk youth to produce program graduates with the values, skills, education and self-discipline necessary to succeed as adults. Since its inception, the ChalleNGe program has grown to include 41 programs in 30 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., and has impacted the lives of more than 185,000 youth.
The West Virginia MCA was one of the original 10 founding NGYCP programs, and since 1993 has graduated 4,663 cadets.
“I am so proud to hear that the MCA has been named the 2019 Program of the Year by the National Guard Foundation,” stated Senator Joe Manchin. “Every year, the MCA takes in at-risk youth and helps prepare them to become strong, contributing members of our society. I’m excited to see the MCA being recognized for its hard work for the state of West Virginia and out youth and look forward to seeing the future work of such an exemplary institution.”
Sentiments also shared by Senator Shelley Moore-Capito.
“I am thrilled the MCA has been named the NGYF’s Program of the Year,” she said. “I have long been a supporter of the MCA because of the lasting impact and countless opportunities it creates for our youth. This program has continuously provided the chance for young men and women of our state to finish their basic education and gain the skills necessary to become contributing members of our communities. Congratulations again to the MCA on this well-deserved honor.”
The NGYCP is a 17-month voluntary program for 16 to 18-year-old at-risk youth who have fallen behind in traditional education systems, consisting of a 22-week residential course and a one-year follow-up. The quasi-military residential course provides cadets with a safe, secure and structured learning environment, as well as hands-on career training programs. Students engage in a curriculum built around eight core components: academic excellence, life coping skills, job skills, health and hygiene, responsible citizenship, service to the community, leadership/followership, and physical fitness. A one-year post-residential follow-up program is included in the curriculum to facilitate long-term student success.
During the 22-week residential phase of MCA, cadets have the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, or a General Education Diploma (GED). Beginning in 2013, 1,704 cadets at the MCA have been able to earn their diploma through the West Virginia Department of Education Options Pathway Program.
“This is a much-deserved recognition for the MCA,” said Congressman David McKinley, a long-time supporter. “The MCA has done great work in helping at-risk young people and giving them a brighter future. We are proud of their work and their success and will continue to use our role as the co-chair of the Congressional Youth ChalleNGe Caucus to support their mission.”
A second MCA campus is scheduled to open in southern West Virginia later in 2020, Located in Montgomery, Fayette County. With the addition of the second campus, the MCA program will be able to double the number of courses offered per year and the number of students it can enroll having an even greater reach and positive impact for the state.
“The MCA is an example of what can be accomplished when community and government leaders develop lasting partnerships focused on reaching at-risk youth," said Adjutant General Maj. Gen. James Hoyer. "Our ChalleNGe Academy continues to set the precedent across the Nation as a model institution centered on student success. This award recognizes the dedicated work all our staff and leaders put into making the MCA the very best for our kids and for our state, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
The MCA has been recognized as one of the nation’s most effective and cost-efficient programs for targeting educationally at-risk youth and received the exemplary partnership award for student-centered support from The Education Alliance during the 2018 West Virginia Education Summit.
Honorees for the NGYF Program of the Year will be formally recognized during the 2020 ChalleNGe Champions Recognition Event at the Russell Senate Building in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 10.
To learn more about the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy, go to: http://wvchallenge.org
To learn more about the NGYF’s mission and initiatives, please visit www.ngyf.org.