Early evaluation results from a study of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program (NGYCP) released by Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) indicate that over 90,000 teenagers have graduated from the program designed to mentor high school dropouts and give them educational opportunities. The sixteen-year-old program targets youth between sixteen and eighteen years of age.
NGYCP currently operates thirty-three programs in twenty-seven states and Puerto Rico. According to the initial report, more than seventy-four percent of the beneficiaries have gone on to earn their high school diploma or equivalent, thirty percent have entered college, and twenty-five percent have joined the military while the rest have engaged in meaningful career-related employment.
Speaking at a National Press Club Newsmaker press conference, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) lauded the youth program as a model. “The program equips these young cadets to be successful in their lives,” she said.
Earlier this year, Senator Lincoln introduced legislation that would allow for the expansion of the program by providing one-hundred percent federal funding for two years for any new Youth Challenge initiatives. The measure also proposes a reduction in the amount of funding states have to spend on existing Youth Challenge Programs. Currently, the federal government provides sixty-percent of the funding while individual states contribute forty percent. Lincoln’s legislation proposes that the federal government shoulder seventy-five percent of the funding and requires individual states to contribute twenty-five percent.
Also speaking at the conference was Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louis.) who commended the program. “This is a program that works, it’s indisputable,” she said.
“It is critical that we do something about this program,” said Jennifer C. Buck, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, while urging for an expansion of the program. Fifteen states are currently actively seeking a new program or additional program sites.
The NGYCP report is based upon a survey applied to both the program and control groups, nine months after random assignment. A second twenty-one-months evaluation report will be available at the end of 2009 and a final thirty-six months report is expected by Fall 2010.