New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

Alert: DMAVA offices are closed Wednesday, 3/7/18, due to inclement weather conditions.
(Close Alert)

About Us

A group of cadets in formation, saluting.

The NJ Youth ChalleNGe Academy offers a course of study to include Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Life Coping Skills and Job Skills. After completing the courses, the cadets take the GED exam. Cadets who earn the privilege to take the GED exam and pass will receive a New Jersey State High School Diploma after completion of the five month residential phase. The average cadet achieves a 2.0 or higher grade level increase in reading and mathematics.


Acclimation Phase

Included in the Residential Phase is a two-week Acclimation Phase, which is a probationary period during which applicants are assessed to determine their potential for successfully completing the program. During this initial phase, applicants have an opportunity to adjust to the physical, mental and social discipline of the program. The focus is on teamwork, close order drill, code of conduct, leadership and followership practicum and physical fitness training. For those applicants who successfully complete this phase, they earn the distinction of becoming a full-fledged cadet.

ChalleNGe Residential Phase

The Residential Phase focuses on basic life style changes approached through a rigorous program of education, training, and service to community. During this phase, cadets focus on eight core components that develop the whole person in terms of mind, body and personal values. Emphasis is on self-discipline, self-esteem, education and development of healthy life styles.

ChalleNGe Post-Residential Phase

Mentoring is a critical part of the NJ Youth ChalleNGe Academy. For many youth, having a relationship with a caring adult who is a constant and positive role model will make the difference between success and failure. The link between mentoring and the eight core components makes NJ Youth ChalleNGe unique and increases the chances for the graduating cadet's continued success.

The mentoring process actually begins during the Residential Phase when cadets and prospective mentors undergo mentor training. Following the required training, each cadet is matched with a caring, responsible adult by the 13th week of the Residential Phase. The mentoring relationship begins at that point and continues for a period of one year following graduation.

During the Post-Residential Phase, cadets and mentors meet regularly and work together to sustain the cadets' life style changes.

Youth ChalleNGe is now the second largest mentoring program in the nation. The National Mentoring Partnership has awarded the "The Excellence in Mentoring Award for Program Leadership" to Youth ChalleNGe for its mentoring accomplishments.


  1. The applicant must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States.
  2. The applicant must be between 16 -18 years of age.
  3. The applicant must not be on parole, probation, or deferred disposition for other than juvenile offenses.
  4. Academy participants will be drug-tested while enrolled in the Academy and will be discharged if they test positive for the presence of illegal drugs.
  5. The applicant must be unemployed or underemployed.
  6. The applicant must be officially withdrawn from High School prior to class start date.
  7. The applicant must have health insurance.