AmeriCorps NCCC and the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program
About the Collaboration
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- The AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is a full-time, 10-month, team-based residential program for men and women ages 18 to 24. The mission of AmeriCorps NCCC is to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service. In partnership with non-profits, members complete service projects throughout the region to which they are assigned. AmeriCorps NCCC members receive a living allowance, housing, meals, limited medical benefits, and a full-time Segal AmeriCorps Education Award upon successful completion of the program.
- The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program (ChalleNGe) is a residential education and training program designed for youth ages 16 to 18 who have dropped out of or been expelled from high school. During the 22-week residential period, participants are offered GED preparation classes and other program services intended to promote positive youth development, such as leadership, job skills, and service to the community. The residential period is quasi-military, but there are no requirements for military service. After the residential period, trainees participate in a one-year structured mentoring program.
- The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009 has given NCCC the goal of increasing the number of disadvantaged youth serving in its program to 50%. NCCC now partners with other youth-serving organizations that work with this population, to identify and recommend youth that meet NCCC’s statutory criteria and who are interested in leadership development and serving their communities.
- The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program was the first organization with which NCCC established this type of “pipeline” relationship. This was a natural collaboration given that representatives from both the Department of Defense and the National Guard Bureau sit on NCCC’s Advisory Board. The two organizations came together on a hand shake, with a mutual understanding of each other’s missions and requirements, to assist one another with placement opportunities for the programs and leadership opportunities for their youth.
- The ChalleNGe Program and NCCC formally established their collaboration in September 2009 with 46 applications for NCCC’s winter 2010 class from ChalleNGe Program centers located in:
- California (Grizzly Challenge Academy)
- Illinois (Lincoln Challenge Academy)
- Maryland (Freestate Challenge Academy)
- Michigan (Michigan Challenge Academy)
- Washington (Washington Youth Academy)
- Wisconsin (Wisconsin Challenge Academy).
- These applicants served at NCCC’s Atlantic Region campus, located in Perry Point, MD. The following fall, applications increased to 63 and in the winter of 2011 NCCC received 118 ChalleNGe applications.
- Due to the close proximity of the NCCC’s Atlantic Region campus to the Freestate ChalleNGe Academy, the two organizations had additional opportunities to build strong personal relationships, provide shadowing opportunities for the cadets, and better understand each other’s operational needs. These two entities have continued to build upon this successful collaboration to establish a model for other regional relationships between the ChalleNGe Program and NCCC.