AmeriCorps NCCC and the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program
Expand to learn more about the practices that have made this collaboration successful. Freestate Academy and the NCCC Atlantic Region campus are used as a case study for best practice.
NCCC and ChalleNGe have buy-in from both sides. National representatives facilitate the basic functions of the partnership, channeling cadets from the ChalleNGe Program into NCCC service. However, local partners such as Freestate Academy and the NCCC Atlantic Region campus have shown an ability to develop a close relationship in all of its stages – outreach, recruitment, application, member conversion and retention and post-service transition.
Due to the geographic proximity between Freestate Academy and the NCCC Atlantic Region campus (they are only 15-20 miles from each other), staff are able to visit each other easily and often. NCCC and the Freestate Academy invite each other to speaking engagements, open house events, and work on job shadowing and internship projects together. There is a strong personal relationship between the two programs. NCCC also encourages their Team Leaders and other members to attend Freestate Academy graduations in order to gain an understanding of how the youth have been inspired and motivated by the ChalleNGe program, and so NCCC members can see their program as a next step for these youth. Additionally, former graduates of the Freestate Academy who have completed the NCCC program often come back to Freestate for Career Day and Mentor Days to act as models for the current cadets there as people who used to be in their shoes, have graduated, and are now continuing their success at NCCC.
All ChalleNGe graduates have mentors who develop a relationship with the youth that they sustain for the first year after graduation. These mentors report back to ChalleNGe, and through the collaboration, they are able to keep in communication about any ChalleNGe graduates in the NCCC program who need additional support. NCCC relies on this feedback from the ChalleNGe mentors to alert them to what is working well and what is not so it can make adjustments.
The collaboration with ChalleNGe has also helped the NCCC to identify how it can do more to help all of the youth in its program with their educational needs. NCCC and ChalleNGe are looking into sharing more data with each other on youth who do not have high school diplomas. For example, Freestate Academy plans to start sending the educational assessments and scores that it has on file for its graduates to the NCCC so it can continue to help these youth earn their diplomas. NCCC is planning to scale up the educational services it can provide on its end, and is currently working with a local community college to allow youth to attend night sessions to help them prepare for the GED test.