The Youth ChalleNGe Program has been independently rated one of the most cost-effective, efficient and successful programs for at-risk youth in the United States. In 2009, 91% of program graduates received their high school diploma, GED or returned to high school. More than 47% joined the work force, 14% joined the military and 34% continued their education.
ChalleNGe Improves Lives: MDRC Study Results
In June of 2011, MDRC, a public policy and education research organization, concluded its multi-year evaluation of the Youth ChalleNGe Program. Results of the study demonstrate ChalleNGe has a significant positive impact on the educational attainment, employment and income earning potential of those who attend the program. More specifically, participants are 29% more likely to earn a high school diploma or GED, 86% more likely to obtain college credits and are more likely to be employed and earn 20% more in wages. The study also found ChalleNGe has profound impacts on participants' self-confidence and their progress to adulthood.
MDRC's evaluations of the Youth ChalleNGe Program are available here:
ChalleNGe is Cost-Effective: RAND Cost-Benefit Analysis
The Foundation commissioned a rigorous cost-benefit analysis of the Youth ChalleNGe Program because we thought it prudent - particularly in this budget environment - to prove the program is a cost-effective approach to addressing the dropout crisis. In February of 2012, the RAND Corporation released results of its analysis, which found every dollar expended on the program results in $2.66 in benefits - a return on investment of 166 percent. This is substantially higher than that of other rigorously evaluated social programs that target disadvantaged youth and supports public investment in the program.
The following table shows that the Youth ChalleNGe Program is the most cost-effective program for addressing the needs of high school dropouts. The Program incurs minimal start-up and operating costs by using existing facilities and equipment. The National Guard provides a structure for supporting and administering the program at the federal and state levels.
The total capital and operating costs for Youth ChalleNGe were compared with costs from programs that service a similar target population. When available, capital costs were included; however, most programs only report their operating costs.
To date, more than 100,000 students have graduated from the ChalleNGe Program. An independent audit found that over 90% of the graduates are pursuing higher education, are employed or have entered military service.
America's At-Risk Youth
- Over 1 million students drop out of high school each year—more than 7,200 per day.
- 33 million Americans ages 16 to 24 do not have a high school degree.
- Nearly 30% of high school dropouts are unemployed.
- High school dropouts lose between $563,000 to $900,000 in lifetime wages.
- 68% of the prison population are high school dropouts
- 24% of high school dropouts are on welfare.
- 1 in 4 babies are born to high school dropouts.
Youth ChalleNGe Graduates—Getting a Second Chance
- Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) gains during the Residential Phase averages 2.1
- 75% of graduates receive their GED, high school diploma or return to high school
- In 2011, graduates completed 545,314 hours of volunteer service to their local communities
Savings to Society
- $109 million saved in juvenile correction costs each year, based on an annual cost of $14,000 per NGYCP enrollee vs. $40,000 per youth in a correction facility.
- $31.7 million in taxpayer savings each year based on students receiving their GED vs. on-going educational costs.
- $16.2 million hours of service to community, based on over 3 million hours performed by graduates since 1993.
- 20% of 16- to 18-year-olds enrolled in the program are taken off Federal Assistance programs.
- Increase in the tax revenue base of $26-$39 million based on program graduates joining the work force.