Saylor, Phillips-Hill Praise Measure to Help At-Risk Youth Graduate
HARRISBURG – The House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee today approved legislation to create the Keystone State Challenge Academy, a dropout recovery program that helps at-risk young people earn a high school diploma or its equivalent and hopefully move on to higher education or employment.

Authored by House Education Committee Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York), and co-sponsored by Education Committee member Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), the measure, House Bill 1689, would create the Youth Challenge Program to provide high school dropouts with structured training and supervised work experience and promote community service to help them receive a high school diploma or its equivalent.

The program currently operates in 27 states and in Puerto Rico.

Saylor said he introduced the legislation after learning how effective it has been in other states such as Maryland, which operates the Youth Challenge Program at Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

“Right now in Pennsylvania we don’t do a whole lot to help kids who drop out of school to get back into school and this is one of the finest programs in the nation to accomplish that,” Saylor said. “This 17-month dropout recovery program with the Guard allows 18-year-olds to get their GED and provides 16-year-olds with the structure and life training to return to school and be a successful student.”

Phillips-Hill said the goal is to begin the program at Ft. Indiantown Gap, due to the fact that housing is available there.

“This structured approach has created a pathway to success for high school drop outs resulting in more than 113,000 students graduating in the 27 states where it has been implemented,” she said. “Pennsylvania makes a significant investment in educating our students. Putting this program into practice will improve the return on that investment and address the negative impact that high school dropout rates have on our economy.”

Saylor stressed that the program does not encourage students to join the military and is very cost effective.

“The federal government pays for 70 percent of this program, and of every 100 students who graduate from the Maryland program, only two or three go on to military careers. Moreover, the program doesn’t just stop after 17 months, it ensures participants have mentors well after graduation to help them enroll in college, trade school or start a career.”

The legislation now moves to the full House for consideration.

Representative Stan Saylor
94th Legislative District
Representative Kristin Phillips-Hill
93rd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Charles Lardner
717.260.6443 /

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