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    Senator: National Guard Youth ChalleNGe effective program

    Senator: National Guard Youth ChalleNGe effective program

    Photo By Johnathon Orrell | Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu speaks with attendees of the 2011 National Guard Family...... read more read more

    LOUISVILLE, KY, UNITED STATES

    07.25.2011

    Story by Tech. Sgt. Johnathon Orrell 

    National Guard Bureau

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The National Guard’s Youth ChalleNGe program is one of the most effective anti-high school dropout programs in the country, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu said Monday at the 2011 National Guard Family Program National Volunteer Workshop here.

    Building families, saving children and giving second chances are some of the cornerstones the program geared to 16 to 18-year-olds believe in, and it’s those beliefs that add value to America every day, she said.

    “This is an essential program that really rounds out the Guard’s mission to be a supporter of the community and also get our young people ready to serve and to give them a second chance,” Landrieu said.

    “The Guard leads the way in showing the nation that our investment in the young people is probably the greatest thing that we can do to strengthen our country and to secure our future.”

    Landrieu cited an independent survey the National Guard Bureau commissioned to establish the depth of impact of the Youth ChalleNGe program.

    “We have an epidemic of high school dropouts,” she said. “We lose 1.3 million children a year to dropouts.”

    According to the survey, the estimated amount of fiscal loss from dropouts in 2010 will be $337 billion.

    “That is the difference between the earnings potential of a young person that has a degree and one that doesn’t,” Landrieu said.

    Dropouts statistically make $10,000 to $12,000 less than those who have degrees and that adds up to a significant number over 30 years, she said.

    During this latest economic downturn for the U.S., the unemployment number for those without high school degrees was at about 16 percent compared to the national average of about 9 percent.

    The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is an opportunity at a second chance to turn lives around and move in a more positive direction, she said.

    “These kids are not into drugs, they haven’t been arrested yet, but they are fast approaching the day when that jail door will slam behind them,” Landrieu said.

    In her home state of Louisiana there are three Youth ChalleNGe programs averaging a statewide total of about 1,200 graduates each year, and she feels proud when she attends one of those graduations to see the difference between hope and despair, she said.

    “These were children that had given up on themselves,” she said. “They weren’t really sure if they could succeed at anything.”

    More than graduating, the chance of a normal life for these children is what Landrieu feels is the selling point to maintain and expand this program, and the investment the Guard puts into the children pays off when they turn around and serve their nation in the military, she said.

    “About 14 to 15 percent of the graduates will go on to serve in some branch of the military,” she said.

    Even if the graduates do not join the military, they have established a chance at a good career, Landrieu added.

    “A majority of them go right into the workforce and get jobs, while a portion of them go on to college.”

    The Youth ChalleNGe saw their 100,000th graduate last March.

    It was a monumental moment for the 20-year-old program, Landrieu said.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.25.2011
    Date Posted: 07.26.2011 12:44
    Story ID: 74338
    Location: LOUISVILLE, KY, US 

    Web Views: 65
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