HARLAN – If you are looking for a life-changing experience outside of a traditional education setting, the National Guard’s Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy (ACA) might be a good option.
The ACA program is offered free for youth between the ages of 16 and 18 who may be working to overcome problems in their lives. In addition to providing an education alternative, the course is designed to instill the same skills, values and self-discipline necessary to succeed in today’s society.
The ACA is structured around a military concept that includes a focus on discipline, integrity, teamwork, physical fitness and community service.
Applications are currently being accepted for the next class, which begins Sunday, January 13, 2013 with graduation on June 15.
“Operation UNITE believes the ACA program services the needs of many young people in our region,” said Dan Smoot, vice president and law enforcement director. “We are happy to partner with the National Guard in spreading the word about the many benefits of this alternative educational program.”
“If you have dropped out of school for whatever reason, the ACA will help get your life back on track,” Smoot continued. “It helps participants to recover credits, obtain their GEDs or even return to school.”
The Challenge Program began in 15 states in July 1993, and has operated in Kentucky since July 1999. The ACA began changing the lives of young people in July 2012.
For more information or to obtain an application, contact the Academy Admissions Office by calling toll-free 1-855-596-4927, send an e-mail to
For more information about Operation UNITE visit their website at www.operationunite.org.