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Who We Are

The Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy offers young people between the ages of 16 through 18 the opportunity to change their lives and make a future for them-selves. The Academy is a 17.5 month, two phase program. The program incorporates eight core components that encourage physical, mental and moral development.

The first two-weeks of the 22-week Residential Phase is part of the ongoing selection process to determine who is prepared for the sacrifices necessary to go the distance.

The Post-Residential phase is conducted within the cadet’s community upon graduation from the Residential Phase. During this part of the program, the youth will be expected to be employed, furthering their education, meeting with a mentor once a week for twelve months, and working their Post-Residential-Action-Plan.

Youth are supervised at all times and remain at the facility unless they are participating in an approved off-site activity. Youth will march in formation to and from activities, and join in daily physical fitness and Life-skill programs.

Meals, housing and uniforms are all provided and there are no costs to the cadet or their families for participation in the program. The Academy is paid for by the U.S. Department of Defense and the State of Michigan. Although the program is administered by the Michigan National Guard, there is NO military obligation for participation.

There are only a few times in your life when you get a second chance. The Academy will provide one of them. It is a fact that workers with less than a high school education end up with fewer career opportunities, lower paying jobs, and a bleak future “That doesn’t have to be your future.”

• Learn self-discipline
• Develop skills that will help you get and keep a job
• May earn a G.E.D. or high school diploma
• Earn 21 College credits
• Earn a semester of high school credits
• Participate in Vocational- Technical training
• Receive Computer training
• Receive physical training
• Develop good health, nutrition and hygiene habits
• Develop life coping skills

All candidates will live in barracks at historic Fort Custer. Candidates will spend much of their time doing physical training, marching, and performing military movements. They will learn the basics of military structure and organization. At the end of the two week selection phase, all candidates will be evaluated on their performance, attitude, and desire to improve their lives by completing the remainder of the Challenge Phase.

The remainder of the ChalleNGe Phase incorporates over 800 hours of classroom instruction provided by Marshall Public Schools to prepare youth for the G.E.D. exam. The youth will also receive 160 hours of vocational/technical training in one of over seven different skills. Successful graduates of the Residential Phase can receive twenty one college credits from Kellogg Community College in addition to a full semester of high school credits and providing they have enough credits, a high school diploma. The youth will participate in over 40 hours of service to community and conservation activities.

There are eight Core Components which are: academic excellence, job skills, physical fitness, leadership/followership, health/nutrition, life coping skills, responsible citizenship, and service to community. These components are designed to develop the cadets into well rounded and responsible members of society. Additionally, the youth put together a life plan that they will work to execute during the post-residential phase.

During the Residential Phase the youth will be matched to a local mentor from their community who will keep weekly contact with the cadet and help guide the cadet in executing their life plan for the next twelve months of the post-resident phase.


• Male and female high school dropouts or potential dropouts between the ages of 16 through 18.
• U.S. citizen or legal resident of the U.S. and resident of the State of Michigan.
• Not currently on parole or probation for anything other than juvenile status offenses.
• All court cases must be closed & not convicted of a felony.
• Candidates can’t be court ordered to the program.
• Must be free from use of illegal drugs (candidates will be tested, and released if positive).
• No tobacco use.
• Must be a voluntary participant and have a strong desire to change and improve.
• Willing to follow direction and learn in a demanding environment.


This program isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone. You’ll put in long days and have little free time. Every day you’ll be challenged mentally and physically. Ask yourself; is a second chance to realize your dreams worth the challenge? Only you can decide!