National Guard Academy for At-Risk Youth Set to Open in PA

The Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy (KSCA) is currently accepting applications for its first-ever cadet class. Created in 2018 by legislation I co-sponsored, the academy is designed to give academically challenged teens a second chance at obtaining their basic education and learning leadership, self-discipline and responsibility, with the goal of building a brighter future.

As a former educator and guidance counselor, I fully understand the viability and worth of such a program. The award-winning National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program has been recognized as one of the nation’s most effective and cost-efficient initiatives for targeting high school dropouts or young people who are at the greatest risk for not satisfactorily progressing, or becoming unemployed or under employed. Since its inception in 1993, more than 179,000 young people have completed the program.

KSCA will be located at Fort Indiantown Gap (FTIG) in Lebanon County, joining 40 other sites in 31 states and territories operated by the program. The academy is open to 16- to 18-year-old male and female Pennsylvania residents. Applicants must be drug free, have no felony convictions and make a voluntarily commitment to attend.

The program lasts for 17 months, with the first five months consisting of residential training at FTIG followed by one year of mentorship back in the community. Graduates often receive high school credits, credentials or a GED. There is no tuition cost to attend. Meals, housing, uniforms and school supplies are provided at no charge.

I look forward to learning more about KSCA on March 2, when the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, which I chair, will hold an informational meeting at the state Capitol to hear from academy officials about their plans.

Additional information on KSCA is available on the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs website at