U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano, the California Military Department and the National Guard Youth Foundation to Honor Members of the Community Creating Opportunities for Youth in California's Youth ChalleNGe Program

Second Annual California ChalleNGe Champions Gala to Take Place October 19th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Youth Guard Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) that supports the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, will hold the second annual California ChalleNGe Champions Gala at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. This annual gathering pays tribute to the California National Guard's efforts to curb high school dropout rates through its evidence-based, cost-effective Youth ChalleNGe Program and the members of the community who support the program.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130213/DC59961LOGO)

The evening will include a reception and silent auction, followed by a dinner program with live entertainment and a live auction. Attendees include senior National Guard leaders, federal, state and local elected officials, corporate and community leaders, and National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program staff, cadets and graduates. U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., and the Pechanga Tribal Council will be presented with "ChalleNGe Champion" awards during the evening.

"Our at-risk youth deserve a second chance," says U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., Co-chair of the Congressional Youth ChalleNGe Caucus. "The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe programs excel in putting youngsters back on track scholastically and physically, and motivates them to succeed with valuable life skills and tools. We cannot neglect those who have fallen through the cracks through no fault of their own, and we must take responsible action to help them chart a newer, brighter path through life. I congratulate all of the Youth ChalleNGe programs and graduates across the nation and hope we can continue to expand this program that truly transforms lives." 

"The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program gives young people – particularly at-risk teens – the chance to empower themselves through education. Our emphasis on reversing the high school dropout crisis is part of a broader effort to help adolescents reach their full potential, backed by the resources provided by ChalleNGe and additional post-graduation opportunities provided by the National Guard Youth Foundation. I'm pleased we will be joined by many notable attendees who will help us honor the men and women who make ChalleNGe so effective and inspiring," says Lou Cabrera, President of the National Guard Youth Foundation.

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is a voluntary 17-month intervention program – including a residential phase and mentor phase – that offers adolescents between the ages of 16 and 18 who have dropped out of school the opportunity to attain a high school diploma or GED while learning life coping skills, job skills and leadership skills. California's two academies serve the entire state, helping more than 800 young individuals each year.

About the California Youth ChalleNGe Academies
The Sunburst Youth Academy, located just outside of Los Angeles in Los Alamitos, is a fully accredited Community High School, administered by the California National Guard in partnership with the Orange County Department of Education. Sunburst Youth Academy has proven itself as a dynamic and innovative program that fosters academic excellence, personal growth, and valuable life skills for 16-18 year old high school drop outs.  Sunburst draws most of its participants from the Los Angeles area.

The Grizzly Youth Academy in San Luis Obispo is a fully accredited Charter High School, administered by the California National Guard in partnership with the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, which provides a highly structured residential environment for young men and women who previously struggled in school due to academic, behavioral, attendance or personal reasons. Working as individuals and in groups, students develop skills and characteristics to overcome the obstacles that held them back from being successful.

The National Guard Bureau currently operates 35 ChalleNGe programs in 27 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Independent studies by MDRC and the RAND Corporation have found the program significantly improves academic achievement, employability and income earning potential for youth who had previously dropped out of school. The RAND cost-benefit analysis found every dollar expended on the program yields $2.66 in benefits, a 166 percent return on investment. More than 115,000 students have graduated from the 35 Youth ChalleNGe Program.

The National Guard Youth Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to addressing the nation's school dropout crisis by giving youth a second chance through the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. The Foundation's mission is to advocate for and support ChalleNGe, run by the National Guard; to raise awareness of the impact that the school dropout crisis has on our society, economy and national security; and to provide ChalleNGe graduates with scholarships and career support to help them continue on their path of success.

SOURCE National Guard Youth Foundation



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