Wisconsin Challenge Academy


For over 20 years, Wisconsin Challenge Academy has been helping students develop character, gain life skills, and earn high school credentials. Traditional school doesn’t work for all students, and the Wisconsin Challenge Academy is a voluntary program designed for consenting young people who struggle in school and are at risk of not graduating. Challenge Academy uses military practices to help youth gain the values, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed. Youth have the chance to get back on track and earn their diploma.

Wisconsin Challenge Academy is free! Students live and learn for 5 ½ months at Fort McCoy in western Wisconsin, about 40 miles east of La Crosse. Most Racine Unified cadets return to RUSD to complete their credits and graduate. Cadets work with a non-family mentor throughout their Challenge Academy enrollment, and for 12 months of ongoing support following completion.

Wisconsin Challenge Academy cadets focus on eight core areas of instruction and training:

  1. Academic excellence
  2. Physical fitness
  3. Leadership
  4. Health and hygiene
  5. Life-coping skills
  6. Responsible citizenship
  7. Service to community
  8. Job skills

Who is Eligible?

Males and females who are 16 years 9 months old (when program begins) but not yet 19 and are:

  • One or more years (3 or more credits) behind in high school credits, expelled, or dropped out
  • A citizen or legal resident of the United States and a Wisconsin resident
  • Not currently on parole or probation (other than juvenile status offenses)
  • Not charged or convicted of a felony
  • Drug free upon entry and throughout participation in the program
  • A willing participant

How do Challenge Academy academics relate to Racine Unified?

Cadets who complete the Challenge Academy program and earn their HSED are granted automatic entry into, and completion of, Racine Alternative Learning’s GED Option II program. Students would receive their high school diploma at the end of the school year, but could take elective courses for the remainder of the school year at their high school if they so choose.

Cadets who do not earn their HSED at Challenge Academy, provided associated conditions are met, may receive RUSD credit for the following subjects:

  • Health - Must pass Health at CA 
  • Personal Finance - Must pass Personal Finance at CA
  • WI State Civics Test - must pass Civics Test at CA
  • Any GED Subject Tests Passed - only if admitted into GEDO2 Program

Additional credit may be awarded for the following:

  • 0.5 Credit Phys Ed - Must pass Four Fitness Factors Test at CA
    • Students may be eligible for an additional 0.5 Phys Ed credit through an RUSD waiver.
  • 0.5 Elective Credit for the following:
    • BMI3250 Employability Skills - Must pass Employability Skills at CA

Wisconsin Challenge Academy sessions begin each January and July. Cadets graduate from the Academy in June and December. Students who complete Challenge Academy can return to RUSD to earn their traditional high school diploma and participate in their high school’s graduation ceremony.

Click the link below to visit Wisconsin Challenge Academy’s website, and if interested complete the online application. If you need any assistance or have questions please contact your student’s high school counselor.

Wisconsin Challenge Academy

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