L.A. County Picks Antelope Valley Partners for Health to Lead Community Engagement Efforts for Reimagined Challenger Memorial Youth Center

After wrapping up a six-month long competitive bidding process, Los Angeles County’s Department of Economic Opportunity has contracted Antelope Valley Partners for Health (AVPH) to spearhead community engagement efforts that will inform the design of a reimaged Challenger Memorial Youth Center (CMYC).

Located in Lancaster, CMYC and the 60 acres of land it sits upon have been dormant since Los Angeles County closed the doors of the former juvenile hall. The County-owned facility includes shuttered dormitories, a school gymnasium, dining hall, and a total floor area of approximately 220,000 square feet.

In 2018, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support repurposing CMYC to remediate long-standing inequities in the Antelope Valley. “Ever since our Board first took on the mission of transforming CMYC into a hub to holistically serve disadvantaged young adults, I have championed involving the surrounding community so that we design a program that meets local needs,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “I am glad Antelope Valley Partners for Health has been selected to engage partners, community leaders, and individuals who will be served by this massive campus. There is so much untapped potential – both in the physical site that will be transformed, and in the lives of the youth that will be served. To make effective change, we need to get the program design right.”

Over the next year, DEO and AVPH will lead community engagement sessions, prioritizing obtaining input on responsive services and delivery and innovative practices to produce a final design plan. The design plan will then be used to procure an operator for the program and site in 2024.

“We’ve reached an important milestone for the County, the Antelope Valley, and our partners as we officially start a community-driven design process for the new Challenger site,” said Kelly LoBianco, Director of LA County’s Department of Economic Opportunity. “We are joining forces with our fellow County departments, local community-based organizations, educational institutions, employers, labor and community leaders, and individuals with lived experience over the next year to design a new and restorative Challenger that offers housing, creates pathways to education and quality jobs, and fosters an inclusive and inspirational space for our youth and region.”

“Antelope Valley Partners for Health is really excited about the Challenger project, and collaborating with the County, community partners, and residents to design a state-of-the-art facility and program to provide housing with supportive services, and vocational training to ensure the success of residents at the Reimagined Challenger facility,” said Michelle Fluke, Executive Director of AVPH.

The design process will ultimately yield a program for disadvantaged young adults ages 18 to 25, including those who were former foster youth, impacted by the justice system, or experiencing homelessness. The site is intended to offer temporary housing, education, mental health support, job training, and a pipeline to quality employment opportunities that meet the unique economic and workforce development needs of the Antelope Valley.


About DEO: The newly created Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), launched in July 2022, helps job seekers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and residents access life changing opportunities, and is home to 19 local America’s Job Centers of California, LA County’s one stop shop that provides a comprehensive range of no-cost employment and training services for youth and adult job seekers, and employers. To stay connected with DEO, follow @EconOppLA on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, subscribe to our newsletter, or visit opportunity.lacounty.gov to learn about DEO services.

About AVPH: Antelope Valley Partners for Health (AVPH) is on a mission to educate, strengthen and advocate for the community through services and partnerships, achieving optimal health and quality of life for all people in the Antelope Valley. Since 1999, AVPH has sought to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and underserved by providing access to health care, mental health care in schools, women’s health education, addressing housing concerns for transitional foster youth, addressing transportation issues, and supporting the community on matters of policy as well. For further information or to connect with AVPH directly, please visit avph.org.

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