If It Doesn’t ChalleNGe You,

It Won't Change You


We are currently accepting applications for our 10 JANUARY 2021 class. Click the APPLY NOW button or contact us to accept the Challenge!

In response to the ongoing Corrona Virus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Appalachian Challenge Academy has released the following statement.

(Please download the official statement below)



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Mentor Training

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Appalachian Challenge Academy

The Appalachian Challenge Academy was opened in the summer of 2012 to its first class of cadets. The program has demonstrated great success with youth from all over the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Appalachian Challenge Academy was opened in Harlan County in Southeastern Kentucky as a focal point to better assist the surrounding counties with its specific approach to success. As of 2018 the Academy has produced over 1000 graduates and continues offering classes to those who choose to accept the ChalleNGe.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Appalachian Challenge Academy is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16-18 year olds by producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens.

Overall, the National Guard youth Challenge Program is a program of opportunity. An opportunity for a second chance. An opportunity for success. An opportunity to progress through a program unlike any in existence. This program is tailored to youth that simply need some guidance and an encouraging push in the right direction.

National Guard Youth Challenge Program

In the early 1990's, Congress recognized the inherent community strengths of the Guard as well as its ability to train, lead, and mentor young people in a caring yet disciplined environment. The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program was authorized by Congress in the 1993 Defense Authorization Bill as a pilot program.
The goal of the program was to determine whether life skills, education levels, and employment potential of youths who drop out of secondary school could be significantly improved through quasi-military assisted training. Administered and managed by the National Guard Bureau, and under the auspices of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Reserve Affairs, agreements to conduct this program were entered into between the National Guard Bureau and the state Governors and Adjutants General.

Due to its demonstrated success, in 1996 the program was officially funded by the United States Congress. Since then, the program has grown exponentially and has expanded from 10 academies in 1995 to 40 academies as of 2018 with some states hosting multiple academies. 

The ACA changed my life forever. I dont know where I’d be without it. - Class 006

Had I not went to the ACA, I dont know where my life would have taken me - Class 010

Attending the Appalachian Challenge Academy was the best choice I ever made - Class 004

Cost Free

Program is entirely cost free for participants and families.

Get on Track

Get back on track or complete school while enrolled. You can even earn a diploma from your originating school.

Start A Career

Gain skills required for a successful career.


Obtain the discipline required for a sucessful life and learn to apply to skills to achieve your dreams.