What is the cost to attend Washington Youth Academy (WYA)?
The Washington Youth Academy, as part of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, is operated through a Cooperative Agreement between the National Guard Bureau and Washington State. This means it is funded by federal and state dollars making tuition absolutely free to eligible youth. The Academy receives its base budget through Department of Defense appropriations (75 percent) and OSPI school apportionment funding (25 percent). The program operates without directly impacting the state’s general operating funds. 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 state and local education agencies, has been extremely successful. The Washington Youth Academy welcomed its first class in January 2009. By our Class of 2016-2, we had more than 2,000 graduates.
How does the program operate?
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 three-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
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.
It is also important to understand what the Washington Youth Academy is not. The Washington Youth Academy is not designed or intended to be a military academy. There is no military obligation or expectation for the students. Further, the WYA is not a juvenile detention center. It is not a drug or alcohol treatment center. It is not a professional child care service; and it is not a hospital, medical or dental clinic. The Washington Youth Academy is an approved institution with credentialed teaching staff and trained professional support staff supporting the educational goals and priorities of the Governor and the citizens of the State of Washington.
What is the focus of the Academic Excellence component at WYA?
The academic focus at the Washington Youth Academy is three-fold:
To increase students’ math and reading skills, as measured by the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE).
To provide the skills and knowledge for students to retrieve up to 8 high school credits.
For some participants, to prepare them to test for the General Education Development (GED) credential.
During the Residential Phase, students may earn up to 8 high school credits in Social Studies, Science, Math, English, health/fitness, physical education, career technical education and community service. The Washington Youth Academy contracts with the Bremerton School District to provide these approved academic courses. Academic credits are issued at the end of the session when the cadet graduates from the program. There is no award of partial credit if the student withdraws from the program prior to completion of the Residential Phase. Credits earned are transcripted at the student’s next school.
Who is eligible to attend the WYA?
The program is voluntary and students from all over Washington State are eligible to apply and compete for admission. Students must be dropped out, behind in credits or at-risk of dropping of high school. The student must be a resident, be between the ages of 16-18 (can be younger when an applicant applies, just must be 16 by the time school starts), a resident of Washington state and a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, permanent resident alien or green card holder. The applicant must never have been convicted of a felony and have no legal action pending. The applicant must be free of illegal drugs at the time of enrollment and physically and mentally able to complete the program. There is no cost to attend the WYA. The program is FREE to the applicant.
What is the staff composition?
The Academy staff are state employees of the Washington Military Department plus a principal and six teachers under contract from the Bremerton School District. The staff is trained to work with at-risk youth in a residential setting and employs a “hands-off” approach that is tough and disciplined, yet caring and respectful.
How does the mentoring program work?
Each student who applies to the Academy must submit the name of an adult who will act as their mentor during the 22-week residential phase and the one-year post-residential phase — basically an 18 month commitment. This is a mandatory requirement for admission and students cannot start the program until a mentor is identified and meets the following criteria:
This is not a figurehead position. The mentor plays a critical role in the student’s short and long-term success in completing the Academy and moving on to become a responsible and productive citizen. Mentoring is a positive one-on-one relationship between a youth and an adult that provides emotional support, advice, and guidance to help the younger person deal with the challenge life. Mentors assist students with goal setting and career exploration.
Where is the WYA located?
The Academy is located at:
1207 Carver Street
What does a typical day look like at the Washington Youth Academy?
- 0445 Wake-up
- 0500-0630 Physical Training (PT)
- 0630-0730 Hygiene/Barracks Maintenance
- 0730-0800 Morning Chow/Personal Time
- 0820-0825 Formation
- 0830-1100 Academic Instruction
- 1100-1145 Lunch
- 1205-1545 Academic Instruction
- 1600-1610 Formation
- 1610-1730 Guided Instruction/Remedial Training
- 1730-1815 Dinner/Personal Time/Mail Call
- 1830-2000 Small Unit Training/Guided Study
- 2000-2030 Snack/Evening Details
- 2030-2045 Hygiene
- 2045 Lights Out
The admissions process includes a personal interview of the student and his/her parent(s) or guardian(s). In addition to the interview, there is a mandatory one-day orientation session. It’s important that everyone fully understand how the program operates. There are two classes per year, each 22 weeks long, starting in mid-January and mid-July. The program is tough and is conducted in a quasi-military format that emphasizes self-discipline, personal responsibility and positive motivation. Students live in a dormitory setting as part of a 50-person platoon. There are three platoons at the Academy. The day starts at 5 a.m. with scheduled training and structured time continuing until 9 p.m. There is little free time and students learn to set their priorities, manage their time and focus their attention. Prior to graduating, the students will develop short-term, intermediate-term and long-term goals including a post-residential placement plan (i.e. school, job, military, etc.).
This is a two-phase program:
Residential Phase –
2 week Acclimation Period– Goal: Identify those students that have the desire and discipline to complete the program.
20 weeks ChalleNGe Phase– Goal: Uses a structured quasi-military environment that emphasizes self-discipline and personal responsibility.
Post-Residential Phase –
52 weeks – Goal: Using a one-on-one mentoring relationship, student progress is tracked for one year to provide advice, guidance, and support. Implementation of the Cadet Action Plan (CAP), the cadet’s map to success.
National Study Results
MDRC Study (2009-11) Youth ChalleNGe Program grads are more likely to earn their high school diploma or GED, obtain college credit, and were more likely to be employed and have substantially higher earnings than high school dropouts who were eligible, but did not participate in the ChalleNGe Program
Rand Study (2012) of ChalleNGe results indicate 166 percent return on investment ($2.66 for every $1.00 spent on program) *Perez-Arce, Francisco; Constant, Louay; Loughran, David S; Karoly, Lynn A. Meeting the Challenge: The Economic Return on Investment in the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. Rand Corporation, 2012.
Designated Innovative School--Legislature and OSPI (2011)
State Audit for School Programs (2011): “No findings”
NGB audit (2012): score 96% of 100%, “top program”
CNA studies 2012-16 non-cognitive skills/cognitive skills
1000th Graduate June 2013, 2000th December 2016
NGB CORE Audit (2015): “Outstanding” evaluation rating
DFAC received HUSSC Bronze Award (2015)
NGYF “Teacher of the Year” Award (2015)
Governor’s Distinguished Manager Award (2016)
Team “Extra Mile Award” (2016)
FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Award (Honorable Mention for training every cadet CERT guidelines) (2017)