STOCKTON, Calif. – The California National Guard will join the San Joaquin County Office of Education and local elected officials Friday morning for a ceremony marking the groundbreaking and renovation of the Discovery Challenge Academy, an at-risk youth program designed to provide a second chance to teens struggling to achieve academic success. The ceremony will begin 10 a.m., Friday, at Building 90 on the Sharpe Army Depot, 700 East Roth Road, Lathrop, CA 95330. Credentialed media are invited to attend.
"What the Cal Guard accomplishes with its Challenge academies is as important as anything we do during wildfire season or on the battlefield overseas," said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General for the California National Guard. "We are a community-based force, and offering these youth a chance to redirect their lives is critical not only to their futures, but to the future of California’s communities."
Discovery Challenge Academy Groundbreaking and Renovation Ceremony
10 a.m., Friday, March 11
Building 90, Sharpe Army Depot, 700 East Roth Road, Lathrop, CA 95330
Major General David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General, California National Guard
James Mousalimas, San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools
Rep. Jerry McNerney, California’s 9th Congressional District
Assemblymember Susan Eggman, State Assembly District 13
Discovery Academy is California’s third National Guard Challenge program. Challenge is one of the nation’s most effective and cost-efficient programs for youth who are at the greatest risk for dropping out of high school, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and criminal activity.
"The Discovery Challenge Academy comes to San Joaquin County through a collaboration with the County Office of Education, the California National Guard and our elected representatives," said James Mousalimas, San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools. "Serving at-risk youth is a core mission of the San Joaquin County Office of Education. The military-style residential program and the instruction provided by the Office of Education will give at-risk youth a second chance by providing them with the attitude, education and training necessary for them to become productive citizens."
There are currently 38 Challenge programs across the nation, and California’s programs are consistently among those with the highest retention rates. The Discovery Academy, which will begin operation in January 2017, will serve 150 cadets in its inaugural class, adding to the 400 cadets served at California’s two other Challenge programs, the Grizzly Youth Academy in San Luis Obispo and Sunburst Youth Academy in Los Alamitos. California’s Challenge academies have served more than 6,000 cadets since their inception.
Also in attendance at Friday’s ceremony will be a number of elected officials, including Rep. Jerry McNerney, of California’s 9th Congressional District, and Assemblymember Susan Eggman, who represents Stockton in the state Assembly.
"The National Guard's Challenge programs have a real record of success when it comes to helping at-risk youth turn their lives around, and I'm proud that our San Joaquin community will serve as the home for the Discovery Challenge Academy," said Rep. McNerney. "I was glad to help secure federal funding for the program. It took tireless advocacy and teamwork to deliver this Challenge site for the young people in our region looking to earn a second chance through the hard work and educational opportunities that the program provides. Many program participants go on to attend college, get a good-paying job, and make valuable contributions to society. Programs like the Challenge, that help deter youth from dropping of out of school, delinquency, and criminal activity, are critical investments that will improve our community for many years to come."
Assemblymember Eggman, who wrote the law that authorized the Academy and secured state funding for the program said, "Studies show that engaging our youth has a dramatic effect on lowering high school dropout rates and increasing lifetime outcomes. The Discovery Academy is a great opportunity to show young adults the importance of dedication and team work, traits that being in the Armed Forces instilled in me. I am very pleased with the level of cooperation and commitment among federal, state and local policy makers that brought this program to fruition."
Credentialed media interested in learning more about the ceremony or the Discovery Challenge Academy should contact Capt. Will Martin, National Guard public affairs officer, at (916) 799-9525 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Zack Johnson, San Joaquin County Office of Education public information officer, at (209) 468-4937 or email@example.com.