CHICAGO – April 21, 2001. Governor Pat Quinn today announced $34.3 million in capital funding for needed upgrades at the Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy in Rantoul. The Illinois Jobs Now! capital investment will fund campus improvements to enable the Illinois National Guard facility to continue serving at-risk youths, and the project is expected to create 240 construction jobs.
“The Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy is an exceptional facility that helps our at-risk youths get started down the path toward success,” said Governor Quinn. “It is important that those young people are being educated in modern, state-of-the-art classrooms learning the latest technologies.”
The approximately 144,000-square-foot project includes construction of five new buildings to replace five existing World War II-era structures. Construction will include: a two-story educational facility to house classrooms, computer labs, multi-purpose rooms, medical exam rooms, offices, security posts, a conference room, library, photo lab, print shop and lobby; a multiple-use auditorium/athletic facility for graduation ceremonies and physical training; a one-story dining facility; a one-story maintenance garage; and coed dormitory space.
A Silver Certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, will be sought for the project. LEED certification indicates that the project will carried out with a high degree of energy efficiency and minimal environmental impact. Ratio Architects, Inc. of Champaign has been hired to design the Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy improvements.
“Bids for the Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy project will be taken by late 2012 once design work is complete. This Illinois Jobs Now! project will provide approximately 240 construction jobs, so it benefits Illinois’ workers as well as at-risk youth ” said Jim Underwood, Executive Director of the Capital Development Board, which administers all non-road, state-funded construction projects.
“This is a great state and federal partnership,” said Maj. Gen. William Enyart, Adjutant General for the Illinois National Guard. “This gives the students at Lincoln’s ChalleNGe a better learning environment and upgrades the tools they need to better their education and make them productive in their community. This is a win-win for everyone involved.”
“I applaud the Governor's decision to invest in improvements on the Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy campus,” said State Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign). “An investment in Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy is an investment in job creation now, as well as an investment in the future success of many at-risk youth. I look forward to hearing many success stories from the Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy for years to come.”
“This is terrific news for the young people that Lincoln’s ChalleNGe engages, as well as the Village of Rantoul as the community continues to redevelop the former Chanute Air Force Base. The creative approach to enriching the lives of students facilitated by Lincoln’s ChalleNGe is truly worthy of our support,” said State Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin).
More than 12,300 students have graduated from Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy since its launch in 1993. Illinois operates the largest single site Youth Challenge Academy in the nation. Lincoln’s ChalleNGe has 140 employees that assist Illinois’ at-risk youth by providing them with the education and life skills necessary to be successful in today’s society.
Education is one of the core objectives of the program. Approximately 75 percent of Academy graduates earn their GED, as compared to the state average pass rate of 53 percent. Lincoln’s ChalleNGge graduates return to their communities and demonstrate the success of this “second chance” program. After returning to their communities, 49 percent of graduates find jobs; 34 percent enroll in college; and 12 percent pursue military careers.
Lincoln’s ChalleNGe is structured into a 22-week residential phase conducted in a quasi-military environment. This phase is followed by a 12-month post-resident phase where graduates return to their communities and are paired with mentors who provide positive support. This phase also reinforces the life skills learned in residence.