ChalleNGe Program Provides Significant Return on Taxpayers' Investment

Feb 28, 2012, 14:22 ET from National Guard Youth Foundation

RAND Corporation Cost-Benefit Analysis Shows Estimated Return on Investment in Youth ChalleNGe Program is 166 Percent

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Data released today by the RAND Corporation proves the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is a wise use of taxpayer funds. The RAND Corporation cost-benefit analysis of the program - started in 1993 to turn around the lives of high school dropouts - shows every dollar spent on the program results in a return of $2.66, or yields a 166 percent return on investment.  


According to the RAND cost-benefit analysis, the estimated return on investment in the Youth ChalleNGe Program is "substantially above that for many other rigorously evaluated social programs that target disadvantaged youth." The cost-benefit analysis also concluded that "continued operation of existing ChalleNGe sites will yield substantial net benefits to program participants and society at large." A link to the report can be found here:

"I have seen first-hand how the Youth ChalleNGe Program helps vulnerable youth get back on track and turn their lives around. Former high-school dropouts who participate in the Youth ChalleNGe Program are more likely to earn their high school diploma or GED, obtain college credits, and are more likely to be employed and earn higher wages," said U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., co-chair of the Honorary National Guard Youth Foundation Board of Directors. "This study shows that investments in the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program yield an impressive 166 percent return, further underscoring the success and impact of this important program."

"Recent statistics from the Pentagon show that 3 out of 4 young people ages 17-24 are not eligible for military service.  The most common reasons include educational background, test scores, physical fitness and past criminal history.  This decrease in eligibility is serious enough to be pointed out as a challenge to our nation's security in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review," said Gen. Craig McKinley, Chief of the National Guard Bureau.  "The goal of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program is to change the direction of those of our nation's youth who are headed down this path.  In addition to improving the education and employment potential of America's high school dropouts, the Youth ChalleNGe program promotes leadership, service to community, life-coping skills and physical fitness."

"The high school dropout issue is a national crisis with one out of three students leaving school before graduating. The data now shows Youth ChalleNGe is unmatched in its effectiveness in combating this problem. We need to get behind this program and make it available to more of the dropouts who can benefit from it," said Gail Dady, President, National Guard Youth Foundation Board of Directors.

The RAND cost-benefit analysis comes on the heels of a multi-year study of the Youth ChalleNGe Program by MDRC that found the program's participants achieve "impressive results" in educational attainment and employability. Key findings include:

  • GED or high school diploma attainment increased by 29%
  • College attendance increased by 86%
  • Annual earnings increased by 20%

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is one of the few programs for disadvantaged youth that have been rigorously evaluated and demonstrate that it is producing significant positive impacts on the lives of those who have dropped out of school and yield a positive return on investment.   

About the National Guard Youth Foundation
The mission of the National Guard Youth Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3), is to advocate for and support the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program.  The Foundation provides scholarships, facilitates internship and job opportunities for graduates of the ChalleNGe Program, and fosters program awareness to promote the success of the ChalleNGe Program. The Foundation also works to raise awareness of the growing dropout crisis and its impact on our society, economy and national security. For more information about the National Guard Youth Foundation, please visit

SOURCE National Guard Youth Foundation