One of the major social challenges facing the nation today is the plight of teenagers who drop out of high school before graduation. Every day, over 5,000 students drop out of high school in this country – that amounts to more than one million dropouts every year. In May 2006, in a Time Magazine cover story, the editors deemed America a “Drop Out Nation.”
About the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy
The Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy (IDYCA) is a volunteer program for 16 to 18 year old teens that are at risk of dropping out or that have already dropped out of high school. The program is open to all students, without regard to race, sex, religious affiliation or household income. The goal of the program is to give youth a second chance to become responsible and productive citizens by helping them improve their life skills, education levels, and employment potential. The program incorporates a highly structured format, with an emphasis on student discipline and personal responsibility, to provide a positive, safe, and secure learning environment.
A division of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, the IDYCA was established under authority of both federal and state law. As a state-run residential and post-residential intervention, the program requires a 17 1/2 month commitment and is divided into two phases. The Residential Phase begins with a two-week “Acclimation Period” where staff works with new teens to see if they have the right stuff to become cadets. During the remaining 5 months of the Residential Phase, youth work on improving in each of the Eight Core Components, and build a set of goals called a Post Residential Action Plan (PRAP), with the help of their adult, volunteer mentor. If the youth complete this phase, they participate in a commencement ceremony, and enter the Post-Residential Phase.
The first two weeks of the program is the acclimation period. Candidates are assessed to determine their potential for successfully completing the program. Candidates learn to adjust to the physical, mental, and social discipline of the program. The focus is on leadership, teamwork, code of conduct, and physical fitness training. Candidates who successfully complete the acclimation Phase will earn the distinction of becoming a IDYCA cadet and proceed to the Challenge Phase, also known as the Residential Phase.
The 22-week Residential Phase provides cadets opportunities to make basic lifestyle changes that are approached through a rigorous program of education, training, and service to community. Cadets focus on eight core components that develop the whole person – mind, body and personal values. Emphasis is on self-discipline, self-esteem, education and development of healthy lifestyles. Cadets are matched with a caring, adult, volunteer mentor from their hometown community who works to support and encourage the youth’s development of an action plan. A cadet’s action plan outlines their personal education, career, housing, and transportation goals for the next phase of the program and beyond.
After cadets complete the Residential Phase, they return to their Idaho communities. Graduates continue to build upon their relationship with their established mentor who serves as a positive role model for the next 12-months and beyond. Mentors are committed to helping IDYCA graduates achieve their post-graduation goals.