Discovery ChalleNGe Academy



We have helped hundreds of students complete their high school education since 2017. We often hear from parents, who had once given up hope that their child could get back on track, that this program changed their life. This program works, but only if your teen voluntarily registers and is fully motivated to change.

If you have any doubts about the efficacy of our program, check out our outcomes page that provides data revealing completion rates and post-graduation outcomes. For many teens, this is the last chance for getting back on track. Most of them succeed, but the program isn't the right fit for everyone.

While this program is offered free of charge, the cost of attendance surpasses $22,000 per Cadet, and therefore, we carefully select students who are committed to completing the program.

You are welcome to attend the orientation program with your teen; however, if the interview is for prospective Cadets only. Read more about the application process

Your question may be answered on our F.A.Q. page, but if there is anything we can help you with, please. CONTACT US


Students must have potential risk factors (i.e. be a high school dropout, behind in credits / not going to graduate high school on-time, or expelled), and be 16-18 years old by the start of the Academy Cycle. The applicant must never have been convicted of a felony and willing to become drug-free and physically and mentally able to complete the program.
Our program is free. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the State of California split the $22,000 cost per cadet with the split being 75% funded by the DoD and 25% funded by the State of California. There is some minimal cost associated with attendance. ie. Socks, shoes, t-shirts, sweatpants, etc.
ChalleNGe cannot accept cadets under 16. There are no exceptions.
No, applicants must be at least 16 years old and no more than 18 years old (the applicant can turn 19 years old before graduation day).
The Discovery ChalleNGe Academy, as part of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, is operated through a Cooperative Agreement between the National Guard Bureau and the State of California. This means it is funded by Federal and State dollars making tuition absolutely free to eligible youth. This investment in our youth has a return of 166% in social benefits. The Youth ChalleNGe Program was started in 1993 as a federal-state partnership to help high school dropouts improve their education level, life skills, and employment potential. The program, which is operated by the National Guard in partnership with the San Joaquin County Office of Education, has been extremely successful.

Youth ChalleNGe is a residential program that incorporates a highly structured quasi-military format emphasizing self-discipline, personal responsibility, and positive motivation. Students, who are referred to as cadets while at the Academy, must meet military grooming standards, wear military-type uniforms, and observe standard military customs and courtesies. Each class involves a 3-phase program that begins with a two-week Acclimation phase where the goal is to identify those students that have the desire and discipline to complete the program. Students who successfully complete the Acclimation phase enter the 20-week Challenge phase where the emphasis is on the “Eight Core Component” curriculum. Cadets must show improvement in each component.

Eight Core Components:

1. Academic Excellence
2. Leadership and Followership
3. Life Coping Skills
4. Job Skills
5. Service to the Community
6. Responsible Citizenship
7. Health and Hygiene
8. Physical Fitness

After completing the Challenge phase, students begin a 52-week Post-Residential phase where each student works with an adult role model in a one-on-one mentoring relationship. The adult mentor provides the student advice, guidance, and support to help him/her continue the positive successes and direction achieved during the Challenge phase.

No. The Discovery ChalleNGe Academy is a military-style alternative educational program. Students cannot be sentenced or court ordered to attend nor is there any military obligation at all. Only 7% of our graduates ever join the Military. The decision to attend should be made by the applicant. Each year a diverse group of teenagers from all across the state, and from all walks of life successfully complete the program.
No. This program is 100% voluntary. No parent, court, judge or probation officer can force the child to come. The child must make the decision to attend the program.
The Discovery ChalleNGe Academy is limited to work with students only in Northern California. Click the link below to visit our National Website to find our sister programs.
The first step of the enrollment process is to attend one of our mandatory orientations. Click the link below to sign up for our next orientation.
No, Discovery is a residential High School run by the California National Guard partnered with the San Joaquin Office of Education. Discovery is not a therapeutic environment or a treatment facility.
Yes, there is one on campus family day and two home - passes throughout the length of the residential portion of the program.
Your child is able to receive letters in the mail. There is also one phone call home every other week. The phone calls on the off weeks will be to the mentors.
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Be consistent in your letter writing to make sure that your child continues to feel encouraged and supported from home throughout the program.