National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program Highlighted As An Effective Program with a 99% Success Rate in Helping Dropouts Earn a Degree and Go on to Higher Education, the Workforce or the Military
WASHINGTON, -- A panel discussion moderated by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) took place on Capitol Hill today, highlighting the high cost of high school dropout to the American economy. Panel members, including Senator Landrieu, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Cecilia Rouse, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, Lieutenant General Harry "Bud" Wyatt III (USAF), Chief of the Air National Guard, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs David L. McGinnis, and former Governor Bob Wise, Director of the Alliance for Excellent Education, and new Youth ChalleNGe spokesperson WWE® Superstar MVP® spoke about the crisis of high school dropout and the cost not only to our economy but to families whose young people are falling through the cracks.
The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program was highlighted as one of the most successful programs available to dropouts, giving them the opportunity to earn their high school degree or GED and go on to join the workforce, go to college or join the military. WWE Superstar MVP and NGYCP graduate SSgt Eric Capuano (USAF) shared their personal stories of dropping out and the road they took to earn a second chance to succeed. Senator Landrieu also introduced a Resolution in the U.S. Senate that celebrates February 24 as National Guard Youth Challenge Day.
America has one of the highest dropout rates in the world among developed nations. Nationally, an estimated one-third of high school freshmen do not graduate from high school in four years; in the 50 largest U.S. cities, the dropout rate may be closer to 50 percent. That totals 1.3 million high school dropouts each year.
"The soaring dropout rate is a national crisis that costs our economy billions each year to support dropouts who are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, incarcerated, on public welfare, or teen parents," noted Senator Landrieu. "And while the cost to our nation is significant, the cost to American families is even greater."
Research from the Alliance for Excellent Education estimates an economic cost of $335 billion in lost productivity and earnings over the course of a high school dropout's lifetime. According to independent research conducted by Cecilia Rouse, an economist with the Council of Economic Advisers, over the next decade, if current dropout rates persist, the economic loss to our nation will total more than $3 trillion.
The research findings identify costs for social welfare programs that are targeted heavily to dropouts. For example, the unemployment rates for dropouts total 40% as compared to the national average of 10%. Each class of dropouts costs states $17 billion in publicly subsidized health care costs over the course of their lives. Individuals lacking a high school education also make up 90 percent of our nation's prison population accounting for $45 billion of the $50 billion spent annually on incarceration. One in every three teen mothers is a dropout and one in four babies is born to a high school dropout.
Lieutenant General Harry "Bud" Wyatt III (USAF), Chief of the Air National Guard, presented data on a program that is giving high school dropouts a second chance to succeed. Independently rated as one of the most cost-effective and efficient programs for at-risk youth in the U.S., the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program has graduated more than 92,850 former high school dropouts from the program to date, with 99% of them going on to pursue higher education, a career in the military or employment, according to a recent audit. This program has a remarkable one percent recidivism rate.
Established by the National Guard in 1993 to help at-risk youth aged 16-18 who have dropped out or been expelled from school, the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program includes a 5-month residential program and 12-month mentoring program where participants learn life-skills, gain real-life work experience, receive on-the-job training, participate in community service and have the opportunity to earn a high school diploma or GED.
It is one of the largest mentoring programs in the nation, second only to Job Corps, and has contributed more than 5 million hours of community service across the nation.
"It costs $17,000 to graduate one child from the Youth ChalleNGe program, as compared to $50,000 to incarcerate that same youth," noted General Wyatt. "To date, the program has saved an estimated $109 million in juvenile corrections expenses and welfare programs as well as adding revenue through employment taxes and community service hours. Based on these results, our nation can no longer afford to turn our backs on our young people if we are to remain competitive in this global economy," he added.
There are currently 32 Youth ChalleNGe programs available in 27 states and Puerto Rico and efforts are underway to make it a national program available in all fifty states. The Obama Administration included an additional $20 million in its FY2011 budget. Eleven states are seeking to add programs and an additional three are seeking to increase the number of programs available in their state. "The cost of this program pales in comparison to the cost of not addressing the epidemic of high school dropouts," noted Senator Landrieu. "Ensuring the success of today's students is an investment in families and our nation's future that will have a positive impact on our economic bottom line," she added.
About the National Guard Youth Foundation (www.ngyf.org)
The National Guard Youth Foundation (NGYF) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that supports the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. The Foundation's primary mission is to broaden awareness of the success of the Program and support the expansion of the program to all fifty states.
SOURCE National Guard Youth Foundation