Local Student as a guest Speaker

October 24, 2013 • 544 views

Local Student as a guest Speaker

Los Angeles, California—Two years ago Markel Kidd was a high school dropout. Growing up in Los Angeles’ South Central neighborhood, Markel says it was all too easy to get caught up in the gangs, violence and drugs that were a way of life. When entering high school his thoughts focused on how to sell and buy drugs rather than studying for tests or joining the football team. Today, 19-year-old Markel, not only has his high school diploma but is a student at Crimson Technical College in the Aviation Technician Program receiving A’s and B’s and on track to graduate early next year. Thanks to Sunburst Youth Academy, an organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth attain their GED or high school diploma while also teaching life, job and leadership skills, about 800 students like Markel graduate high school every year. Sunburst Youth Academy, located just outside of Los Angeles, is one of two California academies that serve the entire state.

“I don’t know where I would have ended up without this program,” says Kidd. “It has helped to give me confidence so that I can continue to do great things, and I am looking forward to a future now that I can be proud of.”

“The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program gives young people – particularly at-risk teens – the chance to empower themselves through education. Our emphasis on reversing the high school dropout crisis is part of a broader effort to help adolescents reach their full potential, backed by the resources provided by ChalleNGe and additional post-graduation opportunities provided by the National Guard Youth Foundation,” says Lou Cabrera, President of the National Guard Youth Foundation.

Kidd is one of the featured speakers for the second annual California ChalleNGe Champions Gala which will be held on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 5:30 p.m., at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. This annual gathering pays tribute to the California National Guard’s efforts to curb high school dropout rates through its evidence-based, cost-effective Youth ChalleNGe Program and the members of the community who support the program.

“Our at-risk youth deserve a second chance,” says U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., Co-chair of the Congressional Youth ChalleNGe Caucus. “The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe programs excel in putting youngsters back on track scholastically and physically, and motivates them to succeed with valuable life skills and tools. We cannot neglect those who have fallen through the cracks through no fault of their own, and we must take responsible action to help them chart a newer, brighter path through life. I congratulate all of the Youth ChalleNGe programs and graduates across the nation and hope we can continue to expand this program that truly transforms lives.”

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is a voluntary 17-month intervention program – including a residential phase and mentor phase – that offers adolescents between the ages of 16 and 18 who have dropped out of school the opportunity to attain a high school diploma or GED while learning life coping skills, job skills and leadership skills. California’s two academies serve the entire state, helping more than 800 young individuals each year.

About the California Youth ChalleNGe Academies
The Sunburst Youth Academy, located just outside of Los Angeles in Los Alamitos, is a fully accredited Community High School, administered by the California National Guard in partnership with the Orange County Department of Education. Sunburst Youth Academy has proven itself as a dynamic and innovative program that fosters academic excellence, personal growth, and valuable life skills for 16-18 year old high school drop outs.  Sunburst draws most of its participants from the Los Angeles area.

The Grizzly Youth Academy in San Luis Obispo is a fully accredited Charter High School, administered by the California National Guard in partnership with the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, which provides a highly structured residential environment for young men and women who previously struggled in school due to academic, behavioral, attendance or personal reasons. Working as individuals and in groups, students develop skills and characteristics to overcome the obstacles that held them back from being successful.

The National Guard Bureau currently operates 35 ChalleNGe programs in 27 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Independent studies by MDRC and the RAND Corporation have found the program significantly improves academic achievement, employability and income earning potential for youth who had previously dropped out of school. The RAND cost-benefit analysis found every dollar expended on the program yields $2.66 in benefits, a 166 percent return on investment. More than 115,000 students have graduated from the 35 Youth ChalleNGe Program.

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