Rep. McNerney Announces Victory for National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program at Sharpe Army Depot
Stockton, CA - Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) today toured the Sharpe Army Depot to announce that the Army and the California National Guard have established a lease agreement that will ensure the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program at the Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop, CA will begin as scheduled in January 2016.
“The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program opens new doors for at-risk youth in San Joaquin County who want to work hard and invest in a brighter future, and I am glad to see that the program will now go forward,” said Congressman McNerney. “This program has a proven track record for turning participants into productive members of their communities by giving them the tools and skills they need to go onto college, find meaningful employment, and achieve success.”
The California National Guard will now be able to proceed with its plans to acquire vacant federal buildings at the Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop to house Youth ChalleNGe program participants and activities. Until this agreement was reached, the Army National Guard had held up the lease contract at Sharpe because of its interpretation of the rules surrounding such acquisitions.
Congressman Jerry McNerney was joined on the tour by Assemblymember Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), as well as members of the Army and California National Guard to discuss the importance of the Youth ChalleNGe Program.
This victory is a direct result of Congressman McNerney’s tireless efforts to ensure the success of this vital program, which included advocating for the program in numerous meetings and communications with Army and National Guard Bureau leaders.
Major General David S. Baldwin, the Adjutant General of California, applauded Congressman McNerney’s efforts.
“The Youth Challenge education program for at-risk youths is truly life-changing, keeping troubled young adults from ending up behind bars and opening the doors of opportunity for the lives they want to lead. While there were many helpful stakeholders, I want to particularly thank Representative Jerry McNerney for his work to secure a third Youth Challenge location for the California National Guard, in Stockton,” said Major General David S. Baldwin, the Adjutant General of California. “This would not have happened without the personal attention Representative McNerney paid to it.”
The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program targets teenagers who have dropped out of high school and provides them with the life skills and education needed to help them turn their lives around. Participants in the program take part in a half-year residential program on active or closed National Guard bases, a National Guard training center, or a school campus. Following this residential phase the participants return to their communities and take part in a 12-month mentoring program. Each class averages 100 participants and the program has produced over 121,000 graduates since its inception in 1993.
Congressman McNerney successfully advocated for an additional $10 million in funding for the program in Congress last year. He also wrote California legislators asking them to approve state matching funds, helping secure an additional $1.5 million for the program. Additionally, Congressman McNerney sent a letter to the Pentagon asking for the Youth ChalleNGe program in San Joaquin County to commence.
The Youth ChalleNGe program has been statistically proven to be one of the nation’s most effective means for prevention of delinquency and involvement in criminal activities. A cost-benefit analysis conducted by RAND Corporation determined that it is cost-effective, with a return on investment of $2.66 for every dollar spent. The program currently operates in 27 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It is funded through a federal/state partnership, with the federal government contributing 75 percent.