Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy
What Is Lincoln’s Challenge Academy?
Lincoln’s Challenge Academy is operating the largest Youth Challenge Program with 800 graduates yearly. It started in 1993 with a goal of improving the employability and life coping skills of a dropout from high school through the use of a military model. It has succeeded in providing an alternative for these young people who just need a structured and intensive environment in order to excel.
The academy has eight core objectives established by the National Guard Bureau as a benchmark for each participant who graduates from the Youth Challenge Program:
- Academic Excellence: The participant must obtain a GED and/or increase his educational grade level in order to obtain legitimate employment.
- Job Skills: The participant must demonstrate skills and knowledge in order to search, get, and maintain employment. He must complete the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery. In the academy, he is taught how to construct a resume, and how to respond to job advertisements. He will also learn interviewing skills while in the program.
- Physical Fitness: The participant also improves his physical fitness through the physical fitness training scheduled regularly.
- Followership/Leadership: The participant demonstrates ethical and moral leadership skills, loyalty, good citizen values, honesty, and respect for himself and others.
- Nutrition, Health and Sex Education: The participant must possess an understanding of the effects of substance abuse on his well being and physical health. He is taught about the significance of good health, sexually transmitted diseases, and proper nutrition.
- Life Coping Skills: The participant demonstrates personal coping strategies, competence to set and accomplish goals, conflict resolution strategies, and personal management and basic economics.
- Responsible Citizenship: The participant must possess an understanding of the US Government and Constitution, and voting and election process.
- Community Service: The participant possesses an understanding of his role as a member of the community and his duty to help those in need.
The Lincoln’s Challenge Academy Program
The program consists of two parts: the resident phase and the post resident phase. In the resident phase, a participant will spend 5 ½ months in Rantoul, Illinois at the Lincoln’s Challenge Academy where he will spend a long day in classroom instruction and physical training. Also, he is required to finish 40 hours of community service. He is also tasked with the upkeep of training facilities and living quarters. A participant receives $10 weekly stipend for his personal needs. Clothing, bedding and meals are all provided by the academy.
In the post resident phase, the participant has already graduated from the program and he goes back to his community to work or continue his education. During the one year cycle of post resident phase, the participant can receive up to $1,000 educational scholarship and $2,200 stipend. A mentor is assigned to each participant who will assist him in achieving his goals which were set in the participant’s Life Plan. The Life Plan is a list of educational and vocational goals which he must accomplish during this phase.
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