Who is eligible to attend a National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academy?

Students who are credit deficient (failed any classes) and 16-18 years old may apply to the academy.  The applicant must never have been convicted of a felony and have no pending legal matters, willing to become drug-free and physically and mentally able to complete the program.

What if my child turns 16 after the program starts?


Students must be 16 by the 1st day of the program in order to attend Sunburst.  If not, the applicant must wait to attend the following class.

Do I have to wait until I'm 16 to apply to Sunburst?

No.  If a student is currently 15 and turns 16 before the 1st day of the program, he/she may start the application process.

Does Sunburst accept students over the age of 18?

No.  A student may turn 19 while they are attending Sunburst.  If the applicant turns 19 before the 1st day of the program he/she is ineligible to apply.

Am I eligible to attend Sunburst if I'm on probation?

Yes.  Students who are on probation may attend the academy as long as they meet our legal eligibility requirements (free of any felonies and any open court proceedings).  We will request the probation officer to sign an approval form during the application phase. 

Can I attend Sunburst if I'm not credit deficient?

No.  Students MUST have failed classes in high school to be eligible.  Sunburst is a credit recovery program, not a credit acceleration program.  If the applicant is currently failing some classes, but hasn't failed any in the past, you may apply now, but will not be deemed eligible until the final reporting of the current semester.


Do you take students with an IEP? (Individual Education Program or Special Education)?

Yes.  Applicants who have an IEP MUST submit a CURRENT IEP with their application.  This includes the current Psycho-Educational Report.

Can I force my child to attend the program?

No. Sunburst is 100% voluntary.  No one (parent, court, judge, probation officer) can force the child to come. The child must make the decision to attend the program.  At any point during the application process a student is identified as being "forced" to attend the academy, the application will be terminated.

Is the Program Co-Ed?

Yes. The Program is open to males and females.  All activities within the academy are conducted separately.  Platoons, classrooms, bays, chow hall, etc, are all separate.

How much does Sunburst cost?

Sunburst is free scholarship to families. The Department of Defense (DOD) and the State of California split the $22,000 cost per cadet (75/25).  The DOD funds 75% and the State of California funds 25%. There is some minimal cost associated with attendance. i.e. socks, shoes, t-shirts, sweatpants, etc.

Do you have to be from Southern California to attend Sunburst?


Yes.  An applicant must live in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Imperial County, or San Diego County to be eligible.  If you live outside of our area, click on the link below to visit our National Website to find a program near you.

Will students be drug tested at any time?

Yes. All cadets will be drug tested while attending Sunburst.  Cadets will be given ample time to clean their body of any drugs and alcohol prior to the first drug test.  From that point on, any positive drug test will result in immediate dismissal from the academy.



 Additionally, all Academies are tobacco and alcohol-free facilities.

How do I apply for a Sunburst Scholarship?

The first step in applying to the academy is to register for an orientation.  All students must have attended an orientation prior to submitting the Phase 1 Online Application.  Applicants must have a full understanding of what the academy entails in order to make an informed decision on whether or not to apply.  Click on the following link to find out when the orientation will be held.

How does the program operate?

Sunburst Youth Academy (SYA) is a residential program that incorporates a highly structured quasi-military format emphasizing self-discipline, personal responsibility, and positive motivation. Students, who are referred to as cadets while at the Academy, must meet military grooming standards, wear military-type uniforms, and observe standard military customs and courtesies. Each class involves a 3-phase program that begins with a two-week Acclimation phase where the goal is to identify those students that have the desire and discipline to complete the program. Students who successfully complete the Acclimation phase enter the 20-week Challenge phase where the emphasis is on the “Eight Core Component” curriculum. Cadets must show improvement in each component.
Eight Core Components:
Academic Excellence
Leadership and Followership
Life Coping Skills
Job Skills
Service to the Community
Responsible Citizenship
Health and Hygiene
Physical Fitness
After completing the Challenge phase, students begin a 52-week Post-Residential phase where each student works with an adult role model in a one-on-one mentoring relationship. The adult mentor provides the student advice, guidance, and support to help him/her continue the positive successes and direction achieved during the Challenge phase.



Is there weekend leave or visitation during the 22-Week Residential Phase?

No, For the January 2021 class, there will be no breaks or on-site visitations due to the COVID-19 restrictions.