The Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program at the Gillis W. Long Center and River Parishes Community College took the first step in March to allow cadets to attend technical classes at the college while enrolled in the residential phase of YCP.

The program is the first of its kind for both organizations, a news release said.

Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard, and RPCC Chancellor Dale A. Doty signed a technical skills training partnership agreement March 23 during an inspection of the campus by Curtis and Col. Michael J. Borrel, director of Education Programs for the Louisiana National Guard.

The partnership will allow approximately 30 cadets to participate in two areas of study at RPCC while enrolled in the 22-week residential phase at YCP.

“We are very excited to begin a new partnership with River Parishes Community College that will allow us to increase the opportunities available to our youth at the Louisiana National Guard’s Youth Challenge Program,” Curtis said. “Together, with RPCC, these young men and women will be able to earn industry credentials to set them on a career path. Together, we are beginning something great.”

Cadets may enroll in drafting and design technology, consisting of 15 semester hours, or welding technology, consisting of 18 semester hours. Fifteen cadets will enroll in each class.

In addition to preparing for and taking a High School Equivalency Test upon completion of the courses at RPCC, cadets will earn an industry skill certification.

“This is a great opportunity for us to step into a role only Community Colleges can fill, transforming the lives of youth who need a little extra help,” Doty said. “We’re proud to join the Louisiana Youth Challenge Program.”

The YCP is a free alternative education program, which offers 16- to 18-year-old at-risk students an opportunity to earn their high school equivalency diploma and change their future through participation in an innovative program which emphasizes self-discipline, leadership and responsibility.

“This partnership with RPCC will provide college training to YCP cadets who may not otherwise have had an opportunity to visit a college campus or chosen to pursue a skill certification,” Borrel said. “Initiatives such as this continue to further the mission of the Louisiana National Guard and the Youth Challenge Program.”