Eggman’s Challenge Academy bill awaits governor’s signature

Friday, August 22, 2014

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman’s bill to establish Northern California’s first National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program was passed from the Legislature on Thursday.

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is designed to prevent at-risk youth from dropping out of high school. The program has a five-month residential phase followed by 12 months of mentoring. There are currently two ChalleNGe programs in California – one in San Luis Obispo and the other in Los Alamitos. Between them, those academies graduate an average of 800 students a year. The program is operated by the California National Guard in cooperation with local school districts. It is authorized and funded through the Department of Defense, with management and oversight from the National Guard Bureau.  

The bill would establish the first such program in Northern California, and has received full funding in the state budget, bringing more than $4 million in federal matching funds. Eggman introduced the bill earlier this year to provide San Joaquin County and nearby areas with additional tools to address high, though improving, high school dropout rates.

A site for the program has not been selected, but locations in San Joaquin County are being considered. The bill will now be presented to the governor, whose signature is the bill’s final step before becoming law.

AB 1518, co-authored by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, received unanimous support in both houses of the State Legislature.