LANSING – State Representative Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek) today joined supporters, parents, cadets and staff members of the Battle Creek-based Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy (MYCA) to call on state lawmakers to fully fund the academy, a program run by the National Guard that gives at-risk youths the chance to transform themselves into successful adults.

“We have seen an amazing outpouring of support for this program over the last two years and today I feel we were able to channel that energy and send a great message to my fellow lawmakers,” Segal said. “I have worked hard to talk to my colleagues about all of the benefits of the academy, but there really is no replacement for direct conversations with cadets, parents, staff members and others who have experienced the program firsthand. We have done great work together to keep the academy open and it’s great to see that our supporters are not giving up the fight to fully fund it. The MYCA does an amazing job of building a brighter future for our kids and Michigan as a whole, and we cannot turn our back on this wonderful resource. After hearing the experiences and personal stories from so many supporters, I hope my fellow lawmakers take our message to heart and truly understand why this program is so important to our entire state.”

Following an event at the Capitol today to rally supporters and brief lawmakers about the positive work at the academy, MYCA cadets, staff members, former cadets, parents and other supporters visited with lawmakers from both the Michigan House and Senate to generate support to protect funding for the academy.

The MYCA is a quasi-military program run by the National Guard that gives at-risk youth from across Michigan a chance to transform themselves into successful adults. When the MYCA was in danger of closing its doors in 2009 because Michigan’s budget crisis put its funding at risk, Segal helped organize a community-driven campaign that saved the academy but only at half capacity. The academy relies on support from the state as lawmakers continue working to balance the state budget.

The academy is funded through a federal and state partnership, with the federal government providing a three-to-one funding match with the state. It is currently operating, however, with a reduced staff and about half the number of cadets it has traditionally served. When operating at full capacity, the MYCA helps more than 200 kids in each class receive an education and build a brighter future for themselves and provides between 40 and 60 jobs in mid-Michigan.

Residents can show their support for the academy by visiting and signing a petition to restore full funding for the academy. While on the site, visitors can view a photo documentary that illustrates just how important the program is to the success of Michigan’s at-risk youths.