Mentors Needed To Guide Pennsylvania’s At-Risk Youth

In an effort to fortify the futures of Pennsylvania’s youth, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, in tandem with the National Guard, has started the Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy. A free resource for at-risk students falling behind or losing interest in school. The program aims to have these students complete their education and thrive in the world after that.

In an official release, the Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy (KSCA) welcomes its first-ever class of cadets this month. It is accepting applications for adult volunteer mentors to help them successfully complete the program. Mentors serve as key role models, provide additional extracurricular or professional advice to cadets, or support the full-time staff efforts to create an enriching environment.

“Volunteer mentors are critical to each cadet’s ability to complete the program and lead a positive, productive life,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “These young men and women need positive role models outside of their immediate family who can assist them on their path to improvement. We seek mentors who can be a source of continued support and guidance to ensure the success of our cadets.”

The KSCA provides Pennsylvania struggling teens an opportunity to achieve the self-discipline, education, and skills necessary to succeed as productive, responsible citizens through an engaging, safe, and structured residential experience. Cadets will be guided to improve their academic standing and increase their potential for future employment or further education.

The academy opening at Fort Indiantown Gap (FTIG) in Lebanon County formally establishes the National Guard Bureau’s Youth ChalleNGe Program in Pennsylvania.

The program is open to 16 to 18-year-old male and female Pennsylvania residents. Applicants must be willing to be drug-free, free of felony convictions, and voluntarily attend the program. The program lasts for 17 months, with the first five months consisting of residential training at FTIG followed by one year of mentorship back in the community.

Each mentor will be counted on to meet with a cadet on a routine basis to ensure they are progressing in residency and then successfully achieving their post-residency goals in education, employment, the military, or volunteering. Mentors will participate in KSCA staff-led training sessions during the residential phase to ensure they are fully prepared for their critical role. All mentors will be required to pass state and federal-level background checks as a condition of volunteering.

The KSCA is a joint effort between the National Guard Bureau and the DMVA in consultation with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

For more information on how you can make a difference in a young person’s life in as little as four hours per month, visit

**There is no tuition cost to attend KSCA. Meals, housing, uniforms, and school supplies are provided at no charge. There is no military obligation requirement after completing the program.**