Low Income Teen Military Schools

Teens from low-income families have many choices when it comes to military school.

Low-income teens searching for the right military school have many options from which to choose. In addition to the growing list of charter military schools flourishing across the country, national programs such as the National Guard Youth Challenge Program provide alternative, cost-free solutions to teens seeking military training. Military schools typically emphasize structure, self-discipline and academics. They also strive to instill values such as respect and honor.

1 Vessey Leadership Academy

Vessey Leadership Academy is a public charter high school to which any Minnesota student may apply. It is tuition-free and ideal for low-income teens. The academy is structured around the "VLA Four-Star Focus," which includes knowledge, discipline, leadership and character. The curriculum follows the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) structure, with an emphasis on college preparation. In addition to traditional academics, the school hosts career fairs and outside speakers. The school requires cadets to wear uniforms, which are provided cost-free by the federal government.

Vessey Leadership Academy 33 East Wentworth Avenue West, Ste. 100 West St. Paul, MN 55118 651-776-8776 vesseyacademy.org

2 Francis Marion Military Academy

The Francis Marion Military Academy opened its doors in August 2008. This public charter school is part of the Marion County Public Schools system and charges no tuition, making it ideal for those seeking a free military school. Stressing core military values and a quality college prep curriculum, the high school bills itself as providing "a unique educational experience." Courses offered by the school include aerospace science, criminal justice and advanced placement classes. Extracurricular activities include sailing and venturing crew.

Cadets and their parents must sign an honor code that outlines behavioral and academic expectations. Cadets are required to perform 40 hours of volunteering per year. Parents must volunteer for nine hours at the school per year. The school enforces a strict dress code that includes uniforms and prohibits all facial piercings.

Francis Marion Military Academy 2091 N.E. 35th Street Ocala, FL 34479 352-291-6600 marionmilitaryacademy.org

3 Grizzly Youth Academy

Grizzly Youth Academy is part of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, which targets at-risk youths. The state and federal governments fund this program, making it free for participants. The school is also chartered through the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education as an alternative school. Grizzly targets teens who have dropped out of school or do not have enough credits to graduate.

Eight core components comprise the "Challenge" training phase: academic excellence, life coping skills, job skills, health and hygiene, responsible citizenship, service to the community, leadership and "followership," and physical fitness. The school has garnered a number of awards, including but not limited to: the 2005 Best All-Around Program, the 2003 Lieutenant General Herbert R. Temple Leadership Award and the 2001 National Mentoring Award.

Grizzly Youth Academy P.O. Box 3209 San Luis Obispo, CA 93403 800-926-0643 ngycp.org/site/state/ca

Erin O'Brien's writing career began in 2000. Her work has appeared in the "The New York Times," the "Los Angeles Times" and the Cleveland "Plain Dealer." O'Brien has been an editor, political reporter and columnist, and she continues to write freelance for publications across the country. She has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Ohio University.