The Oak Hill facility in D.C. once housed youths who sold drugs, got into fights, stole cars and worse. But on Wednesday, city and National Guard officials celebrated its rebirth.
The facility will now host the National Youth ChalleNGe program, which embraces a holistic approach to GED completion for at-risk youths ages 16-18.
"This academy is a new lease on life for the youth of D.C., but also for the Oak Hill facility," said D.C. National Guard Commanding Gen. Errol R. Schwartz. "This campus was once a jail and once sat abandoned. Now hundreds of D.C. youth will find a second chance to put their lives on track towards college, work and productive citizenship."
The D.C. National Guard, the District government and federal agencies contributed to the $6 million, 18 month renovation project on the 30-acre, 14 building campus – the largest in the country. Both local and federal resources will fund the program, which is free of charge to participants.
One hundred and seventy-six cadets are enrolled in its first class set for July 14, and the program will be able to accept an additional 88 students in 2014, for a total of 264 students per class and 528 per year.