Celebrities to Team Up to Raise Awareness of Dropout Crisis at Eighth Annual ChalleNGe Champions Gala

Feb 13, 2013, 15:14 ET from National Guard Youth Foundation

NASCAR Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., Singer/Songwriter Kaley Caperton, Country Music Star LeAnn Rimes and WWE's Kofi Kingston Join NGYF in Celebrating the Success of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Paying tribute to two decades of success in helping to curb the nation's dropout crisis, the National Guard Youth Foundation's ChalleNGe Champions Gala will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program by bringing together alumni from 20 years ago, this year's upcoming graduates and many in between, along with noted celebrities. The event, presented by BAE Systems, will be held on Tuesday, February 26th at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C. from 5:30 – 10:00 p.m., ET.

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

Since the first program started in 1993, ChalleNGe – which gives young people who have dropped out of school a second chance to earn a high school diploma, GED or return to high school – has helped more than 115,000 teens turn their lives around.

"Over the past 20 years, the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program has proven itself as a leader in combating the dropout crisis," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., co-chair of the National Guard Youth Foundation Honorary Board of Directors. "As one of the most effective tools for at-risk youth looking to turn their lives around, this is a program worth celebrating and strengthening, especially as it reaches this tremendous milestone. I am deeply proud of the National Guard's continued leadership and commitment to solving this national epidemic."

"Witnessing the impact the Youth ChalleNGe Program has made over the past 20 years has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life," said Lt. Gen. John Conaway, Chairman, National Guard Youth Foundation Board of Directors and former Chief, National Guard Bureau. "This event will highlight the many individuals who support the Foundation's efforts to help former dropouts find a way back to graduation and continue their success beyond the ChalleNGe Program."

Notables attending include NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., singer/songwriter Kaley Caperton, country music star LeAnn Rimes, WWE Superstar Kofi Kingston and Gospel legend Kenny Bishop. FOX News' Jon Scott will serve as emcee for the event.

This year, singer/songwriter and NGYF Spokesperson Kaley Caperton, will debut "Red, White and Beautiful," a song she co-wrote with country music legends Dave Robbins and Billy Austin to honor members of the National Guard who work to improve outcomes for troubled teenagers and those teenagers who have the courage to turn their lives around.

"I am so proud to be involved with the National Guard Youth Foundation, they do incredible work giving teenagers a second chance.  I want for these cadets the courage to DREAM, the faith to BELIEVE and the drive to ACHIEVE.  It will be my honor to perform 'Red White and Beautiful' for them," says Platinum Pen songwriter/artist, Kaley Caperton.

The event also underscores the importance of strengthening public-private partnerships to bolster the effort to re-engage out-of-school youth. The following individuals will receive ChalleNGe Champions awards for their commitment to combating the dropout crisis:

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V.
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.
Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini, Adjutant General of Kentucky
Mr. Rick Hendrick, Hendrick Motorsports
Gen. Craig McKinley (Ret.), Former Chief, National Guard Bureau
Mr. Greg Sharp, The SPECTRUM Group

The Eighth Annual ChalleNGe Champions Gala has limited availability. For more information, please visit http://www.ngyf.org/events/champions_gala.

***Media planning to attend must RSVP to Ashley Saunders at asaunders@ngyf.org

About The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program
ChalleNGe is a 17- month, voluntary, second-chance program for 16- to 18-year-old struggling youth who have dropped out of school. Participants have the opportunity to enhance life skills, increase self-esteem, learn job skills, and earn a high school diploma, GED or return to high school to graduate with their peers. ChalleNGe has undergone rigorous evaluations, the results of which show it yields success for both its participants and its funders. Since the program's inception in 1993, ChalleNGe has grown to 34 programs in 27 states and Puerto Rico, and has helped more than 115,000 former dropouts make it to graduation day.

About The National Guard Youth Foundation
The National Guard Youth Foundation, a 501(c)(3), supports the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program's efforts to address the nation's high school dropout crisis by giving troubled youth a second chance, helping them graduate and continue their education or join the skilled workforce in America. The Foundation awards scholarships and facilitates internships and job opportunities for ChalleNGe graduates. The Foundation is also working with ChalleNGe to scale the program to impact more youth at risk of being lost and forgotten. To learn more about the Foundation's initiatives, please visit www.ngyf.org.

SOURCE National Guard Youth Foundation