Eggman bill aims to get National Guard ChalleNGe program for San Joaquin

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman introduced legislation today to establish a National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academy in San Joaquin County.

Eggman was joined at her Thursday announcement by State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D – Stockton, and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, R – Modesto, the bill’s principal co-authors.

Funded through the Department of Defense and managed by the National Guard Bureau, the 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 is an acute need in San Joaquin County for programs to stem a very high rate of dropout; the high school dropout rate in San Joaquin County is 15.4%, exceeding the statewide average of 13.1%. An independent cost-benefit analysis by the RAND Corp. found the ChalleNGe model provided $2.66 in value for every dollar invested.

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 bill, AB 1518, directs the California National Guard to establish a ChalleNGe academy to serve San Joaquin and northern California. The academy would serve an estimated 400 students annually.