Sunburst Youth Academy is enrolling now for its January 2022 class

Sunburst Youth Academy celebrates cadets in the Class of 2020.

A free residential leadership academy is currently seeking applicants for its program that gives local teens who’ve faced significant obstacles a second chance at life.

Operated by the California National Guard in partnership with OCDE, Sunburst Youth Academy is a five-and-a-half-month, military-style program where youth can earn high school credits while developing leadership, pride, confidence and academic skills. During their time at Sunburst, cadets live on base, attend high school during the day and work on physical fitness, life skills, team-building and goal-setting activities before and after school.

Cadets attending Sunburst can earn 65 credits — comparable to a year’s worth of high school credits — and apply credits toward graduation at their home school, or earn a high school diploma from Sunburst.

With an 87 percent success rate, Sunburst changes the lives of over 200 students every year. But due to challenges brought forth by the pandemic, its ability to recruit has dwindled, Admissions Coordinator Sergeant Ryan Salvoni says.

“The pandemic has limited our ability to reach students who would most benefit from attending the academy,” said Sgt. Salvoni. “But we want students and families to know that the enrollment process is easy and can be completed in just a few simple steps.”

How to apply

Scholarships are still available for the upcoming January 2022 class. The first step in the application process is to attend an orientation. Orientations are held weekly, both online and in-person.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must be:

  • between the ages of 16-18 on the program start date
  • legal residents of Southern California
  • free from any serious legal involvement and have no felonies
  • willing to be drug-free
  • physically and emotionally able to participate
  • credit deficient (not on track to graduate on time)
  • eager to apply for the academy and have a desire to make positive change

Applicants can register for an orientation by visiting or by calling 877-463-1921 for an appointment.

For additional information about Sunburst, read the OCDE Newsroom’s five things to know about Sunburst Youth Academy.