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Posted  January 21, 2003 

Grizzly Youth Academy -
California National Guard

San Luis Obispo, California
LTC Nancy Cooper, Program Director

The ChalleNGe Youth Programs started in 1994. Now there are a total of 32 programs throughout the US, including the Grizzly Youth Academy (GYA) in Camp San Luis Obispo, California. The goal of these academies is to educate young adults, aged 16 through 18 years, in a structured learning environment that also improves their self-esteem, pride and level of confidence. These programs strive to help young adults gain the discipline and life skills necessary to be productive members of their communities and society, and to provide youth who’ve had problems with “traditional education, to become “academically successful.” Grizzly Youth Academy (GYA) is federally and State funded, and admission to the program is “voluntary and tuition free.” Some qualifications for admission include: either being a high school dropout, or being at risk of dropping out; free from illegal substances; and having no felony adjudication/convictions or new offenses pending, upon program entry.

GYA is a “three-phase” program. The “Pre-ChalleNGe” phase consists of the first two weeks of the program during which time the applicants become adjusted to the environment while being evaluated by the GYA staff. The second phase is the “Residential Challenge,” consisting of the next 20 weeks during which time the cadets are provided with educational, and physical training. Based on the youths’ “academic success”, they may be selected to take vocational training classes at Cuesta College, become a peer-educator, or job shadow in the community during this phase. The final, “Post-Residential” phase consists of the 12 months after leaving the program. During this time the cadet keeps in close contact with his or her mentor, who they are required to have identified upon their entrance to the program.

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