ICYMI: NV National Guard Begins Program to Help At-Risk Youths, Names First Director

November 22, 2019

The Nevada National Guard will begin a program to help at-risk youths change their lives for the better.

Lauren C. Schulman has been named the first director for the Nevada program. Schulman stood up the second Youth ChalleNGe program in Texas, the Texas ChalleNGe Academy, and served as its Director. She also assisted in standing up the Washington Youth Academy in Bremerton, Washington as the Service Learning Coordinator, Assistant Commandant and Commandant.

She began her career with youth programs in 1994 and started working with Youth ChalleNGe programs in 1999. During that time she has held multiple positions within the organization and serves on the national training team for all ChalleNGe programs.

Schulman has a Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Houston and is looking forward to establishing roots in Elko County.

"Being part of the ChalleNGe family means not only having the opportunity to train our future leaders, but it allows us to become part of the communities and families that these young men and women call home." Said Schulman, "I am so thankful to have been selected to be part of the Nevada Youth ChalleNGe Team and look forward to leading the journey from compliance to self-reliance that our Cadets will achieve."

"Lauren is the right person, at the right time to lead this important educational program." Said Brig. Gen. Ondra Berry, the Adjutant General, "Her expertise and experience is second to none." The Youth ChalleNGe program is designed for at-risk youths, ages 16 to 18.

The program is voluntary and students have to apply. Candidates must be drug free and cannot have a felony charge or be on probation.

The Nevada State Legislature voted to establish the program this past session with the backing of the governor. The state will contribute 25% of the funding and the federal government will provide the other 75% of the $3.4 million budget.

"I am excited to see our state participate in this wonderful program that has shown to substantially increase high school graduation and college attendance rates among at-risk youth," Governor Sisolak said. "Education is critical to the long-term success of our state, and this program goes a long way in ensuring every child has a shot at a brighter future."

The program is five months in residence, the students then choose a mentor to help them through the next year, in which they may finish high school, go on to college, or join the military.

"It is a very demanding program, mentally, physically, and emotionally, and while the total person is emphasized, academics is the primary focus." Berry said.

Nevada joins 40 other programs in 29 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia in providing a Youth ChalleNGe program.

Nevada's program will be housed at the Elko County Readiness Center in Carlin, which is the site of the former University of Nevada Fire Science Academy.

The Nevada Guard is beginning facility renovations and preparing to hire staff.

The first class is scheduled to start in January 2021.

For more information contact the Nevada National Guard Public Affairs Office 775-887-7252.

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