The New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe Academy was established in 2001 in Roswell as a program that is designed to help the high school drop outs in NM get their education as well as the life and job skills necessary to become successful citizens. The basic eligibility criteria an applicant must meet in order to be accepted into the program are that they be between the ages of 16-18, not currently attending school or at risk of dropping out of school; if they are involved in the Juvenile Justice System, they cannot have been adjudicated for any felony crimes; and they must be a legal resident of the US and NM with a valid NM ID. Our program is state and federally funded, which allows us to offer our services at absolutely no cost to families or applicants. NMYCA serves the entire state!
We run 2 cycles per year and there are 2 phases to our program. The first is the 22 week Residential Phase in which the youth live in Roswell. During this phase, the youth attend GED and Vocational Certification classes provided by Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell. The vocational courses we offer are Automotive Technician, Welding Technology, Certified Nurse Assistant, EMT-Basic and Building Trades. Enrollment into these courses earns the cadet 15-18 college credits. During the course of the 22 weeks, while working toward earning their GED and their Vocational Certification, they also learn a variety of life and job skills, such as how to create and maintain a budget and how to create a resume to prepare them to enter the workforce. Again, all education is FREE!! Prior to completing the Residential Phase, the cadets begin to focus on their future and what they want to do with the tools they have been given. They begin to consider their placement options which are: Employment, Continued Education, or Military Enlistment. Once a choice is made, the staff at NMYCA begins to prepare them by helping them fill out applications, submit financial aid forms for college or put them in contact with military recruiters. The staff ensures that all avenues have been considered to allow the cadet to be most successful. NMYCA also offers scholarships for college and all cadets are eligible for the NM Lottery Scholarship.
The success of our program rests in the quasi-military structure we provide. For the entire 22 weeks, every minute of every day is planned out and the youth are taught how to live by a very strict training schedule. They are taught how to set goals and how to achieve them. The first 2 weeks we call our “Acclimation Phase” which is exactly what it says, getting the youth “acclimated” to the NMCYA way of life. At NMYCA, there are no cell phones, tv’s, video games or negative influences that keep them from staying focused. This is why our program is successful.
Once the cadets complete the Residential Phase, they move into the Post-Residential Phase, which is our mentoring phase. Each cadet is required to have a mentor from his/her hometown. The mentor’s responsibility is to help the cadet transition back into the “real world” and provide positive guidance for a period of 12 months. During these 12 months, the NMYCA tracks their progress through reports submitted by the mentors. When it comes to success rates, NMYCA averages more than 60% GED pass rate per cycle, and 75% sustained placement during the Post-Residential Phase. Our cadets go on to careers in the military, enrollment into the New Mexico Military Institute (also located in Roswell), they become business owners and even come back to work at NMYCA helping the youth as we have helped them.
The New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe Academy will be at the JPO Office, 2605 32nd St Bypass, in Silver City on October 29th at 6pm. To learn more about what makes this program successful, visit them online at www.nmyca.com.