Program

Oct 05, 2016

OVERVIEW

This 17.5-month residential program serves disconnected, drug-free youth not heavily involved in the justice system. The youth, ages 16 to 18, have either dropped out or been expelled from school and are unemployed. Youth ChalleNGe is a military-style program that aims to help the youth finish their education and find employment through discipline and a curriculum covering eight components that provide skills necessary to become involved in the community. Significant positive impacts on educational attainment, employment, and earnings were found three years after the start of the program. Significant positive impacts on crime/delinquency were found across 21 months, but not at the three-year follow-up. Impacts were also found for health status and obesity at the nine-month follow-up, but they were not significant at the 21-month or three-year follow-ups.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target Population: Youth ages 16 to 18 who have dropped out or been expelled from school and are unemployed, drug-free, and not heavily involved in the justice system

National Guard Youth ChalleNGe is a military-style program that aims to help youth finish their education and find employment through discipline and a curriculum covering eight components that provide skills necessary to become involved in the community.  The program has three phases: a two-week Pre-ChalleNGE Phase, a 20-week Residential Phase, and a yearlong Post-Residential Phase. Often, the program sites are military bases.

Pre-ChalleNGe Phase

The two-week residential pre-ChalleNGe phase introduces the participants to the program’s rules, expectations, discipline, teamwork, and physical fitness training.

Residential Phase

After completing the “pre” phase, participants are referred to as “cadets,” divided into platoons and squads, and must adhere to military-style disciplinary methods. The entire residential phase involves strict supervision of the participants, who have almost no unstructured time. During the 20-week Residential phase, participants focus on a curriculum with eight components: leadership/followership, responsible citizenship, service to community, life-coping skills, physical fitness, health and hygiene, job skills, and academic excellence.

Post-Residential Phase

After the 20-week Residential program, a community-based, post-residential phase begins with a placement into a job, an educational program, or military service. Cadets also nominate a year-long mentor, whom they begin to interact with during the residential phase.

The entire process occurs over about 17.5 months. Program staff include team leaders who supervise the cadets. Many of these team leaders have a military background. In addition to this “cadre,” programs have at least six full-time instructors who teach courses (e.g., math and science) and conduct skills trainings. Program staff also include counselors who largely hold bachelors or master’s degrees.

This program is administered nation-wide, with programs in 27 states and Puerto Rico. When assessed in 2011, program funding was about $14,000 per participant, making the typical annual budget for a 100-bed program about $3 million, with, the federal government paying up to 75 percent of program costs and states paying 25 percent.

EVALUATIONS OF PROGRAM

Study 1: Bloom, D., Gardenhire-Crooks, A., & Mandsager, C. (2009). Reengaging high school dropouts: Early results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program evaluation. New York, NY: MDRC.

Evaluated Population: The evaluation included 12 state programs. Because more people applied to participate in ChalleNGe than there were available slots, the evaluation team selected a random sample of eligible applicants to participate in the program.  The eligible applicants who were not selected to be in the program served as a control group.  Together 1,507 participants (916 program and 592 control) were evaluated, and 1,196 completed the nine-month follow-up survey (736 program and 460 control).

At baseline, participants came from a variety of family structures, with about one quarter of the participants living with both biological parents.  Most participants had received Cs, Ds, or Fs for their grades (88 percent) and 30 percent ever had an Individual Education Plan. Most (82 percent) had been suspended from school in the past, and one out of three had ever been arrested. Eighty-four percent of the study’s participants were male. Study participants were mostly white (41 percent), African American/black (40 percent), or Hispanic (14 percent).

Approach:  Both the intervention and control groups were composed of youth applying to the program.  Applicants were randomly assigned to the program (intervention group) or were turned away (control group). Nine months after the start of the program, the authors measured education, current involvement, involvement with the criminal justice system, and health through a survey completed by the program participants and control group members.

Results:

Educational Attainment

After nine months, program group members were significantly more likely than control group members to have earned a high school diploma or GED. Forty-six percent of program group members had obtained either credential, compared with 10 percent of control group participants (p<0.01). Similarly, 15 percent of program group members had earned a high school diploma, and 31 percent of program group members had earned a GED, compared with three percent and eight percent, respectively, of control group members (p<0.01 for both outcomes).

Current Involvement

At the time of the nine-month interview, a significantly higher percentage of program group members were taking college courses, working at all, and working full-time. In contrast, a significantly higher percentage of the control group was enrolled in high school or GED prep. Program group members were marginally significantly more likely to be in job training, with 14 percent of the program group enrolled, compared with 10 percent of control group members (p<0.10).

Eleven percent of the program group was enrolled in college courses, compared with three percent of the control group (p<0.01). Fifty-one percent of the program group was currently working, compared with 42 percent of the control group (p<0.01), and this employment was full-time for 31 percent of program group members, compared with 21 percent of the control group (p<0.01).

Among control group members, 36 percent were enrolled in high school, compared with 16 percent of program group members (p<0.01). Similarly, 21 percent of control group members were enrolled in GED prep, compared with 15 percent of program group members (p<0.05).

Criminal Justice System Involvement

Positive program impacts were found for the program group on criminal justice system involvement. Twenty percent of the control group had been arrested since baseline, compared with 14 percent of the program group (p<0.05).  Eleven percent of the control group had been convicted since baseline, compared with seven percent of the program group (p<0.05). Nineteen percent of the control group had been in jail, prison, or a detention center since baseline, compared with 11 percent of the program group (p<0.01).

Health

A significantly higher percentage of individuals in the program group reported favorable overall health, with 77 percent of the program group rating their own health as very good or excellent, compared with 68 percent of control group members (p<0.01). No impacts were found for body-mass index overall or being overweight; however, a significant impact was found for obesity status. Thirteen percent of control group members were obese, compared with eight percent of program group members (p<0.05). Positive impacts were found for self-efficacy and social adjustment. Eleven percent of the program group scored high on the scale for self-efficacy and social adjustment, compared with seven percent of the control group (p<0.05), and 20 percent of the control group scored low on the scale, compared with 11 percent of the program group (p<0.01).

Study 2: Millenky, M., Bloom, D., & Dillon, C. (2010). Making the transition: Interim results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe evaluation. New York, NY: MDRC.

Evaluated Population: The evaluated population was the same as in Study 1. The average age was 18.5 at this 21-month follow-up survey. The follow-up survey was completed by 1,196 participants (736 program and 460 control).

Approach: As described in Study 1, participants were randomly assigned to a control group or to the ChalleNGe group. The authors measured education, current status, crime and delinquency, and health outcomes in a self-reported 21-month follow-up survey.

Results:

Educational Attainment

The program had significant impacts on high school completion and higher-education attendance up to the 21-month interview. The program group had a significantly higher percentage of earning a high school diploma or GED certificate. Sixty-one percent of program group members had earned either credential, compared with 36 percent of control group members (p<0.01). Twenty-two percent of program group members had earned a high school diploma, compared with16 percent of control group members (p<0.05); and 48 percent of the program group had earned a GED certificate, compared with 22 percent of control group members (p<0.01). Additionally, 25 percent of the program group had earned any college credit, compared with 10 percent of the control group (p<0.01). There were no significant impacts on receipt of a college degree or a trade license/training certificate at the time of the survey.

Current Status

At the time of the survey, a significantly higher percentage of the program group was involved in any employment, school, GED programs, vocational training, military activities, or any residential programs, with 72 percent of the program group involved in any of the above, compared with 66 percent of control group members (p<0.05). Twelve percent of program group participants were enrolled in college courses, compared with seven percent of control group members (p<0.01). Also, 11 percent of program group participants were enlisted in any branch of the military, compared with six percent of control group participants (p<0.01).

Although program group members were only marginally significantly more likely to be currently working, the program group had significantly higher average weekly earnings. Fifty-five percent of the program group was currently working, compared with 50 percent of the control group (p<0.10), and the program group earned an average of $209 per week, compared with $169 per week among control group members (pp<0.01).

In addition, control group members reported being idle since random assignment at a significantly higher rate than program group members. Among control group members, 52 percent reported being idle for one or more months since random assignment, 30 percent reported being idle for three to 11 months since random assignment, and seven percent reported being idle for a year or more since random assignment; compared with 46 percent (p<0.05), 23 percent (p<0.01), and three percent (p<0.01), respectively, among the program group members.

In addition, the control group had a significantly higher percentage currently in high school and GED prep, with 13 percent of control group members enrolled in high school and 14 percent of control group members in GED prep, compared with seven percent of program group members enrolled in high school (pp<0.01) and 10 percent of program group members in GED prep (p<0.05). There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups with regards to participating in job training.

Crime and Delinquency

A significantly higher percentage of control group members were convicted of crimes in the past 12 months than the program participants, with 13 percent of the control group having been convicted of any crime, compared with nine percent of the program group (p<0.05).  The control group also committed significantly more delinquent acts, with control group participants having committed 1.9 acts, compared with1.6 acts by the program group (p<0.05).  However, there were no statistically significant differences in the percentage of program and control group members who were arrested in the past 12 months or who self-reported delinquency.

Health

No significant impacts were found for health. The program participants and control group were equally likely to be in good or excellent overall health, to be obese, or to have serious psychological distress.

Study 3: Millenky, M., Bloom, D., Muller-Ravett, S., & Broadus, J. (2011).  Staying on Course: Three-year results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe evaluation. New York, NY: MDRC.

Millenky, M. (2016). Connecting high school dropouts to employment and education: an impact study of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. IZA Journal of Labor Policy, 5(1), 1-17. doi:10.1186/s40173-016-0065-x

Evaluated Population: The evaluated population was the same as in Study 1. The average age was 20 at the time of this survey, three years after the participants entered the study.

Approach: As described above, participants were randomly assigned to a control group or to the ChalleNGe group. In a three-year follow-up survey, the authors measured educational attainment, employment history, current status, and crime and delinquency.

Results:

Educational Attainment

Three years after entering the program, those in the program group were significantly more likely to have earned a high school diploma or GED than the control group, with 72 percent of the program group having earned either credential, compared with 56 percent of the control group (p<.01). Although there was no significant difference between the groups in high school graduation (received a high school diploma) levels, program group members were more likely to have earned a GED than the control group; 57 percent of program group members had earned a GED, compared with 35 percent of control group members (p<.01). In addition, those in the program group were more likely to have earned college credits, with 35 percent having earned credits, compared with 19 percent of control group members (p<.01).

Current Status

Those in the program group were marginally significantly more likely to be employed during the 12 months leading up to the survey and were significantly more likely to be working at the time of the survey. Eighty-eight percent of the program group had been employed in the previous 12 months, and 58 percent were working at the time of the survey. In comparison, 85 percent of control group members had been employed during the previous 12 months (p<.10), and 51 percent were working at the time of the survey (p<.05).

Additionally, the program group had been employed for more months in the past year than the control group, with the program group having been employed for an average of 8.1 months, compared with 7.2 months for the control group (p<0.1). Program group members also earned $13,515, which was about 20 percent more than the control group members, who earned $11,248 (p<.01).

Members of the program group were significantly more likely to be enrolled in college courses than members of the control group, with 11 percent enrolled, compared with eight percent of control group members (p<.05).  Program group members were also more likely to both have a high school diploma or GED and be involved in productive activity; this was true for 49 percent of the program group, compared with 38 percent of the control group (p<.01). Meanwhile, there were no statistically significant differences in military enlistment, either current or past, current enrollment in high school or GED prep classes or job training, or being involved in any productive activity (with or without having a diploma or GED) between the program group and the control group.

Crime and Delinquency

There were no statistically significant differences in number of arrests or convictions since entering the study between the ChalleNGe group and the control group.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Website: http://www.ngycp.org/site/

References:

Bloom, D., Gardenhire-Crooks, A., & Mandsager, C. (2009). Reengaging high school dropouts: Early results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program evaluation. New York, NY: MDRC.

Millenky, M. (2016). Connecting high school dropouts to employment and education: an impact study of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. IZA Journal of Labor Policy, 5(1), 1-17. doi:10.1186/s40173-016-0065-x

Millenky, M., Bloom, D., & Dillon, C. (2010). Making the transition: Interim results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe evaluation. New York, NY: MDRC.

Millenky, M., Bloom, D., Muller-Ravett, S., & Broadus, J. (2011).  Staying on Course: Three-year results of the  National Guard Youth ChalleNGe evaluation. New York, NY: MDRC.

KEYWORDS: Adolescents (12-17), Youth (16+), Young Adults (18-24), Males and Females (co-ed), High-Risk, White/Caucasian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino,  Community-based, Mentoring, Vocational Learning, Cost Information is Available, Teen Pregnancy, Delinquency (e.g., truancy, vandalism, theft, assault, running away), Other Behavioral Problems, Other Civic Engagement, Community Service, Obesity, Employment/Earnings, Job Training/Readiness, Other Self Sufficiency, Academic Achievement/Grades, High School Completion/Dropout, College Enrollment/Preparation, Other Education, Condom Use and Contraception, Births, Anxiety Disorders/Symptoms, Alcohol Use, Marijuana/Illicit/Prescription Drugs, Other Social/Emotional Health, Health Status/Conditions.

Program information last updated on 10/5/2016.