Youth ChalleNGe Academy breaks ground on new barracks

The Idaho Youth Challenge Academy broke ground on a new barracks building April 9 in Pierce. Representatives from the Idaho National Guard gathered for the ceremony along with staff members from Gov. Brad Little’s office.

The $13.5 million, 18,000 square foot building will replace temporary billeting facilities currently in use at the academy. The new barracks also allows for potential expansion of the program with room to house up to 180 students and cadre.

Academy Director Trevor Sparrow said building strong relationships has been an important aspect of its success and growth over the years.

“We are so grateful for the support of all of our partners around the state from the cadets who attend, their families, local businesses and communities, the Idaho State Legislature and the Governor’s office,” said Sparrow. “This building solidifies the commitment that Idaho has to ensure the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy stands ready to ensure a legacy of excellence for decades to come.”

The Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy opened its doors in 2014 with the mission “to intervene in and reclaim the lives of at-risk youth to produce program graduates with the values, skills, education and self-disciple necessary to succeed as responsible and productive citizens and adults.” Since then, the academy’s focus on providing education and developing employment and life skills among its student body has helped more than 2,000 Idaho youth earn traditional or general education diplomas.

Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, Idaho adjutant general and commander of the Idaho National Guard, served as the presiding official during the ceremony.

“Two thousand and seventy-five young men and women from the state of Idaho have completed this and have really improved the citizenship and the future for our state,” said Garshak. “It’s time now that we move out of a temporary facility and build permanent barracks because I think the Youth ChalleNGe Academy has demonstrated that it is here to stay.”

The project is slated to be completed in November 2025.