Lincoln's Challenge gets money for renovation

By Anthony Antoine |

Published 05/24 2014 06:53PM

Updated 05/27 2014 11:27AM

RANTOUL -- Governor Pat Quinn made an official announcement giving Lincoln's Challenge Academy millions of dollars. It will pay for a much-needed facelift. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine has the story.

It took about five years to get to this point, but the $32 million investment is something school officials are looking forward to.

"Were announcing today a $32 million investment, in five new buildings that will continue our mission in educating students in the Lincoln Challenge Academy," says Governor Pat Quinn.

New dorms, updated classrooms, and an athletic facility are just some of the upgrades. It's a strong message to the students at Lincoln's Challenge. The National Guard funds about 75% of the school's operatoins. The money to pay for these changes will come from taxpayers.

Brigadier General Daniel Krumrei says:

        It's money well spent. It will demonstrate to the students the importance
        that we place upon their education. Every year we find youngsters that are
        more than capable and ready to go to college, to get scholarships, to move
        forward who, outside of this program, may have never had those
        opportunities. When we take a look at these kids, we always find what’s
        called a 'diamond in the rough.' Youngsters who have the opportunity to
        have reinforcement regularly, the importance of education, discipline and
        they have the opportunity to shine.

Chanute Air Force Base was built in 1917. It closed 76 years later, but not before the state turned part of it into an academy, for what some call, "at risk youth." Major General Donald Lynn started it all.

He says, "It's my baby. I did a lot of things in life, but this is probably the most satisfying thing I’ve done; to see these kids succeed."

To date, more than 14,000 kids have graduated from the academy. The money will continue to help the academy mold strong men and women in our community.

"It's a program that’s not just on the State of Illinois' back, but it’s on the nation's back as well," says Lynn.

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