The NJ Youth ChalleNGe Academy offers a course of study to include Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Life Coping Skills and Job Skills. After completing the courses, the cadets take the GED exam. Cadets who earn the privilege to take the GED exam and pass will receive a New Jersey State High School Diploma after completion of the five month residential phase. The average cadet achieves a 2.0 or higher grade level increase in reading and mathematics.
Included in the Residential Phase is a two-week Acclimation Phase, which is a probationary period during which applicants are assessed to determine their potential for successfully completing the program. During this initial phase, applicants have an opportunity to adjust to the physical, mental and social discipline of the program. The focus is on teamwork, close order drill, code of conduct, leadership and followership practicum and physical fitness training. For those applicants who successfully complete this phase, they earn the distinction of becoming a full-fledged cadet.
The Residential Phase focuses on basic life style changes approached through a rigorous program of education, training, and service to community. During this phase, cadets focus on eight core components that develop the whole person in terms of mind, body and personal values. Emphasis is on self-discipline, self-esteem, education and development of healthy life styles.
Mentoring is a critical part of the NJ Youth ChalleNGe Academy. For many youth, having a relationship with a caring adult who is a constant and positive role model will make the difference between success and failure. The link between mentoring and the eight core components makes NJ Youth ChalleNGe unique and increases the chances for the graduating cadet's continued success.
The mentoring process actually begins during the Residential Phase when cadets and prospective mentors undergo mentor training. Following the required training, each cadet is matched with a caring, responsible adult by the 13th week of the Residential Phase. The mentoring relationship begins at that point and continues for a period of one year following graduation.
During the Post-Residential Phase, cadets and mentors meet regularly and work together to sustain the cadets' life style changes.
Youth ChalleNGe is now the second largest mentoring program in the nation. The National Mentoring Partnership has awarded the "The Excellence in Mentoring Award for Program Leadership" to Youth ChalleNGe for its mentoring accomplishments.