Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost to attend Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy (BBYCA)?

Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy, as part of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, is operated through a Cooperative Agreement between the National Guard Bureau and the State of Nevada. This means that our Program is funded by Federal and State dollars, which makes tuition absolutely free to eligible youth (including room and board). The only out-of-pocket expenses for attending BBYCA are transportation to and from the Academy; however reasonable accommodations can be made for this request. The program, which is operated by the National Guard in partnership with state and local education agencies, has been extremely successful.

How does the program operate?

Youth ChalleNGe is a residential program that incorporates a highly structured quasi-military format emphasizing self-discipline, personal responsibility, and positive motivation.  Students, who are referred to as Cadets while at the Academy, must meet military grooming standards, wear military type uniforms, and observe standard military customs and courtesies.  Each class involves a 3-phase program that begins with a two-week Acclimation Phase, where the goal is to identify those students that have the desire and discipline to complete the program.  Students who successfully complete the Acclimation Phase, enter the 20-week Residential Phase, where the emphasis is on the “Eight Core Component” curriculum.  Cadets must show improvement in each component.

Eight Core Components:

  • Academic Excellence
  • Leadership and Followership
  • Life Coping Skills
  • Job Skills
  • Service to the Community
  • Responsible Citizenship
  • Health and Hygiene
  • Physical Fitness

After completing the Residential Phase, students begin a 52-week Post-Residential Phase, where each student works with an adult role model in a one-on-one mentoring relationship.  The adult mentor provides the student advice, guidance, and support to help him/her continue the positive successes and direction achieved during the Residential Phase.

It is also important to understand what the BBYCA is NOT.  The BBYCA is not designed or intended to be a military academy; there is no military obligation or expectation for the students.  Further, the BBYCA is not a juvenile detention center; it is not a drug or alcohol treatment center; it is not a professional child care service; and it is not a hospital, medical, or dental clinic.  The Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy is an approved institution, with credentialed teaching staff and trained professional support staff, supporting the educational goals and priorities of the Governor and the citizens of the State of Nevada.

What is the focus of the Academic Excellence component at BBYCA?

The academic focus at the Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy is in-part:

  1. To increase students’ math and reading skills, as measured by the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE).
  2. To provide the skills and knowledge for students to retrieve up to 7 high school credits. As BBYCA is a fully accredited high school, a student within sufficient credits of the state’s graduation requirement may be able to receive a high school diploma from BBYCA.

During the Residential Phase, in addition to the credits students may earn, the also can earn 3 industry certificates: OHSHA, CPR and Food Handling. The Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy partners with the Elko County School District to provide these approved academic courses.  Academic credits are issued at the end of the session when the Cadet graduates from the program.  There is no award of partial credit if the student withdraws from the program prior to completion of the Residential Phase.  Credits earned are transcripted at the student’s next school or advanced education institution.

What if my child doesn’t want to come to the Academy?

The program is voluntary, and students from all over the State of Nevada are eligible to apply and compete for admission.  Students must be a high school dropout or at risk of dropping out due to credit deficiency or other risk factors; age 15-1/2 to 18 upon entry; unemployed or underemployed; a US citizen or permanent legal resident, and resident of the State of Nevada; never convicted of a felony and have no legal action pending; free of illegal drugs at the time of enrollment; and physically and mentally able to complete the program.  There is no tuition cost to attend the BBYCA.

What is the staff composition?

BBYCA staff are state employees of the Nevada Office of the Military, plus a principal and four certified teachers, under contract from the Elko County School District in Elko, NV.  The staff is trained to work with at-risk youth in a residential setting and employs a “hands-off” approach that is tough and disciplined, yet caring and respectful.

What if my child wants to quit once he/she is there?

BBYCA is a voluntary program; however, we do not easily give up on Cadets once they have been accepted. There will be a multi-step intervention plan to redirect behaviors and address Cadet needs so that they are more likely to stay.

My child will not be 16 until after the first day, can you make an exception?

Unfortunately, the age restrictions are non-negotiable. Your child may start the application process prior to turning 16, but he/she cannot attend until their 16 th birthday or after.

My child will be 19 before the first day, can you make an exception?

Unfortunately, the age restrictions are non-negotiable. Your child is not eligible to attend BBYCA unless he/she is 16, 17, or 18 on the first day.

My child is using drugs, or I suspect he/she is, does that make him/her ineligible?

We understand some applicants may not currently be living a drug-free lifestyle, and we still encourage them to apply. We have a zero-tolerance policy for drug use while at the Academy, and Candidates and Cadets must be willing to be drug-free while they are with us. Urinalysis drug screens will be used once your son/daughter has had the opportunity to “get clean.”

How often will I get to see my child while he/she is at the Academy?

Except for unforeseen circumstances, you will see him/her twice during the 22-week residential phase. We will have a Family Day on campus on or around week 10, and you will pick up your child for a 4-day pass later in the program (over Memorial Day or Thanksgiving weekends, depending on the cycle). Details will be shared at the beginning of each cycle.

How do I keep up-to-date on what’s happening at the Academy?

We encourage you to subscribe to our social media outlets (links on the top of every page of our website), the most active of which is our Facebook page. Also, visit our website’s Events Calendar.

Do you have a campus closer to me?

Nevada has only one ChalleNGe program. The campus is in Carlin, NV.

What if I am a resident of Nevada but my child is not?

Your child may apply as long as he/she has a Nevada address and a person in Nevada who is willing to accept responsibility for him/her in the event of an emergency, prolonged illness, or dismissal.

How does it work with mail and/or phone calls?

The more mail the better!!! We encourage you to write each other as frequently as possible. Mail is passed in the evenings, and Cadets are required to open mail in front of a staff member to ensure there is no contraband inside the envelope. Pictures will be reviewed for appropriateness, but mail will not be read or censored. Please keep in mind that interference with the mail is a Federal offense, so your child will be allowed to send and receive mail from anyone unless there is a court order saying otherwise.

Phone calls are earned weekly, and duration is up to 20 minutes depending on your child’s rank and any disciplinary actions. Your child will be allowed to call whomever they wish or may split his/her
time between calls.

Can you accommodate my child’s dietary restrictions?

In most cases, yes. Food allergies and other dietary restrictions must be disclosed during the application process so that our Food Services Manager has time to plan accordingly. Vegetarian, food allergies/sensitivities, and pork-free diets are all easily accommodated. Please note that medical documentation will be required for food allergies or sensitivities.

My child has learning differences or disabilities, can you meet the accommodations specified by his/her school?

Yes. Individual Education Plans, 504 Accommodations, Behavior Improvement Plans, and/or Full and Individual Evaluations must be submitted during the application process so that our Principal and Special Education teacher have time to plan accordingly.

Does my child have to join the military after graduation?

No. We will likely have military recruiters as guest speakers at some point in the cycle, but there is no obligation for your child to speak with them or pursue enlistment. Each Cadet will take the ASVAB; however, it is used primarily as a career exploration tool as opposed to a step for enlistment.

Will my child get his/her diploma or HiSet?

That depends on your child, his/her academic history, and his/her progress at the Academy. Classes are online and self-paced. As such, Cadets will earn credits at different rates. If your child is within 5 or 6 credits of completing a diploma, chances are good he/she will earn it if they don’t waste time in the classroom.

Most Cadets will earn credits and return to their home campuses on track and with the mindset to succeed at earning a diploma with their classmates.

Seniors may have the opportunity to take the HiSet (high school equivalency) test. Passing the test and earning their equivalency or waiving credits towards their diploma is the ideal situation for older students who are further behind on credits. 

How important is the mentor, and what if I do not have one?

Your child’s mentor is instrumental in his/her success after leaving the program. The mentor is responsible for maintaining a relationship with your child and holding him/her accountable to the goals he/she set while at the Academy. The mentor serves as another caring adult in your child’s life and will stay in contact with BBYCA staff for a full year following graduation from the residential phase.

Your child will not be accepted to the Academy without a mentor. Please speak with your BBYCA Admissions Specialist for ideas on finding a mentor.

Can you accommodate my child’s religious practices?

In most cases, yes. After Acclimation, Cadets will be allowed to have a religious text of their choosing. There will be quiet time most evenings, and a couple of hours each Sunday devoted to reflection. Local religious leaders will be invited to come to campus during the Sunday reflection time, and your child may participate in this worship if they so choose.

Any accommodations your child may need regarding head coverings, facial hair, or additional time for prayers should be addressed during the application process, and there is no guarantee the accommodations will be made.

My child does not have a transcript because he/she has never been enrolled in high school.

All applicants must be eligible to enroll in high school level coursework, this means they MUST have completed 8th grade and be eligible for promotion to 9th. In this case, please provide a middle-school transcript.

If your child lacks a transcript because he/she has been homeschooled, please contact our principal during the application process. Your child may be required to take a placement test in order to determine eligibility.


Dr. Andre' L. Ponder

Program Director

Kyle O'Connell

Program Coordinator

Are you ready for the challenge?

Our program supplies graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens.