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Mayor Gray and D.C. National Guard Leaders Cut Ribbon on New Youth ChalleNGe Academy Oak Hill Campus

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
New Facility Will Host GED Completion Program for At-Risk D.C. Youth

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Today, Mayor Vincent C. Gray, D.C. National Guard Commanding Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, celebrated the opening of the new Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy at Oak Hill, on the site of the District’s former youth detention center. They were joined by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and other special guests.

This facility – once home to a place where young people were sent after getting themselves in trouble – will now provide a program to help keep them out of trouble and put them on a path to a bright future,” Mayor Gray said. “This site will now serve as a model campus for a model program.”
“Every youth in D.C. deserves a second chance,” said Gen. Schwartz. “The Youth ChalleNGe Program has proven to be one of the most successful GED completion programs available, and opening the D.C. Youth ChalleNGe campus, the newest and largest in the nation, proves our commitment to the youth of D.C.

The Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy facility opening is the product of the combined efforts of the D.C. National Guard, the District government and federal agencies. The 30-acre, 14-building campus has undergone a $6 million, 18-month renovation project to be ready to accept students for the July class.

“This academy is a new lease on life for the youth of D.C., but also for the Oak Hill facility,” said Schwartz. “This campus was once a jail and once sat abandoned. Now hundreds of D.C. youth will find a second chance to put their lives on track towards college, work and productive citizenship.”
The District’s Department of General Services (DGS) helped manage the renovation of the Oak Hill facility. “The Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy is a first-class program that provides young people in the District with an opportunity to elevate their lives, and the Department of General Services is delighted to have partnered with the D.C. National Guard to make these renovations and give the Academy a new home,” said DGS Director Brian J. Hanlon.

The National Youth ChalleNGe Program was created in 1993 to leverage National Guard resources in local communities. It is a preventative, rather than remedial, program that targets at-risk youth ages 16 -18 who have not completed a traditional high school program. The program is provided free of charge to participants and is funded through a collaboration of local and federal resources. Cadets, who begin the Academy in an intensive, residential boot-camp style initial phase, are trained using a holistic approach emphasizing discipline, self-esteem, education, mentorship and healthy lifestyle habits. More than 110,000 youths from 35 programs have graduated from the Youth ChalleNGe program nationwide.

District youth have previously been able to attend Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy. The new Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy will afford more District youth the opportunity to attend. The proximity to the District will allow the cadets to maintain stronger relationships with family and mentors through the residential phase of the program, complete community service projects in the District, and have access to internships throughout the city.

The initial class is set to begin July 14, with 176 cadets enrolled. The program is slated to accommodate an additional 88 students in 2014, for a total of 264 per class, 528 per year.


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