... for cadets

... for volunteers/mentors

... for staff



... for cadets

Would I live on campus or commute?
You would reside on campus in the Lincoln's Challenge dormitory. Each student is assigned to a team and each team has their own floor in the dormitory. Typically cadets are placed three to a room.


What are the criteria for admission?

  • a volunteer
  • 16-18 years old
  • high school dropout by the start of the new class
  • resident of Illinois and a US citizen or legal resident
  • not currently involved in the legal system or have a court case pending
  • drug free at the start of class

What is the application process?
Applicants must complete the application packet, attend an orientation/registration session, have 2 completed mentor application packets, and receive a drug screen. Contact the Regional Coordinator for registration/orientation dates near you.


What is my cost? Is there a tuition fee?
There is no tuition! The Lincoln's Challenge Academy is a Federal and state funded program. There is no direct cost to the family or cadet, except for initial toiletries and required clothing (approx. cost $150-$200).


Do I have to have been in trouble to attend?
No! Most of our cadets have not been involved in the judicial system. Detailed info here We do accept some cadets who have been involved in the judicial system, however, those cadets cannot be court-ordered to attend and some type of charges will disqualify a student for admission.


How long do I stay at Lincoln's Challenge campus?
Each class lasts for five and one half months (22 weeks, including the Pre-Challenge phase) and there are two classes per year. The class that starts in January will graduate in June and the class that starts in July will graduate in December.


What happens if I want to leave and go home?
Attendance at Lincoln's Challenge is voluntary. Cadets are allowed to leave at any time that they request to do so. However, every attempt is made by our staff to retain the cadet.


Can I smoke?
Cadets are not allowed to smoke or use any tobacco products during the 22 weeks.


Do I have free time?
Yes, however even your spare time consists of structured activities. There are many extracurricular activities available for the cadets. These include basketball, GED Jeopardy team, chess club, art club, jazz band, choir, drill team, honor guard, military club, and others.


What about breaks and visitation?
Cadets do have a scheduled break during the class and it is dependent upon the overall class schedule. Families also are provided opportunities for on-site visits. After the Pre-Challenge phase, the family will be provided a schedule for visitation. Generally, visitations are on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and occur on alternating weekends.


What happens after I graduate from the Academy?
You will return home to your community and start the process of beginning your adult life. Post Resident Cadets (PRCs) are expected to find employment, enter vocational schools, or enroll in Junior College. You are also required to maintain contact with your assigned mentor.


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... for volunteers/mentors

Where is Lincoln's Challenge Academy located?
Our campus is located at 205 Dodge Avenue, Rantoul, IL on the site of the former Chanute AFB.


Do you conduct tours of the campus?
Tours of the Lincoln's Challenge Academy are only conducted for educators and community leaders. For tour information, contact your nearest Regional Coordinator at 1-800-851-2166.


What is a mentor?
The mentor is a member of the cadet's community who volunteers to be a positive role model and who will reinforce and continue the cadet's development. The mentor is a valuable asset who will aid in empowering the graduate to become a success. This cadet/mentor relationship is monitored and supported by a case manager from Lincoln's Challenge Academy's Office of Admissions and Graduate Affairs.


What are the requirements to become a mentor?

  • Must be over 21 years of age
  • Must be a productive member of the community, i.e., employed, retired, or in school, etc.
  • Must not be a member of the immediate family
  • Must be a resident of Illinois
  • Must be same gender as cadet
  • Must live within reasonable proximity of the cadet (50 miles)
  • Must be able to pass a criminal background check
  • Must agree to attend a one-day training session conducted at the LCA campus in Rantoul, IL

Where can I get more information about the Academy?
Brochures and application packets for both students and mentors are available from the Regional Coordinator. Call 1-800-851-2166.


... for staff

Are there staff that live on campus, and if so, how do I obtain quarters until I can find a house or apartment?
In most cases, there are rooms/quarters available, provided you are originally located outside of a 30-mile radius. The rooms are very small and you would probably need to share a room with another staff member. The Director, Lincoln's Challenge Academy assigns the rooms and is the approval authority for room assignment. Arrangements can be made through the Human Resource Office prior to the first day of employment.


Are there employee benefits?
Currently, as state contractual employees, the Lincoln's Challenge Academy offers sick leave, vacation, holiday time, and overtime compensatory. We also offer 15 days of paid military leave for annual training, worker's compensation, and the Deferred Compensation option. Vacation time is increased progressively for years of service and sick leave is credited at 8 hours per month. At this time, however, there are NO health, dental, or life insurance benefits or 401k benefits offered.


What kind of teacher's certificate is required for instructors?
Any teacher's certificate recognized by the State of Illinois, including substitute teacher certifications. All instructors MUST have a teacher's certificate in order to be employed.


Can former cadets be employed with the Academy?
Yes, as long as all requirements for the position as posted in the announcement and outlined in the position description are met, anyone (to include former cadets) may be employed, provided they are selected by the interview panel for hire.


Is there a military requirement of all positions at the Lincoln's Challenge Academy?
No. The only positions that require active military membership or retired (20 years) U.S. Armed Forces are: All Cadre positions, the Director of Logistics, the Training Manager, the Security Chief, the Deputy Director, and the Director.


Are the positions federal technician, active guard/reserve, or active duty positions?
No. All positions are state personal services contracts.


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