San Joaquin Partnering with the Discovery ChalleNGe Academy to enhance the distribution center’s workforce

By Annette Silva, DLA Distribution San Joaquin Public Affairs

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DLA Distribution San Joaquin, California, located in Tracy, has partnered with the leadership of the Discovery ChalleNGe Academy to obtain qualified graduates to work in the Unitized Group Rations mission at the distribution center. As a direct result of the partnership, the distribution center is hiring 19 graduates of the program this year.

The academy, located 12 miles from Tracy in Lathrop, California, is a Community High School run by the California National Guard in partnership with the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

According to Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Reece, the recruiting, placement and mentoring supervisor, “The academy is a 22 week, residential, quasi-military, credit recovery program for at-risk teens in Northern California and one of 39 programs in the nation. Graduates leave the academy with the values, life-skills, self-discipline and education to succeed as productive citizens.

“The Defense Logistics Agency is making history with the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program,” commented Reece. “This is the first time that any Youth ChalleNGe program has partnered with a federal entity to offer full time employment to cadets. I am truly thankful for

this opportunity for our cadets. I look forward to their continued success with DLA,” he concluded.

DLA Distribution San Joaquin, California, takes extreme pride in being a strong partner in the community. From coordinated active shooter exercises, truck route certification efforts with the county, mutual aid support to the Tracy Fire Department, feeding the homeless, or hiring veterans and disabled citizens, the distribution center strives to support the concerted efforts of our local agency and community programs.

“When we heard about the Discovery ChalleNGe Academy establishing a site at the Sharpe Army Depot several years ago, many of our military and civilian personnel signed up to be mentors to the cadets.  It wasn’t too long ago that we were co-located at Sharpe and Tracy so the placement of the Academy at Sharpe had meaningful value to our employees,” commented DLA Distribution San Joaquin Commander Marine Col. Andre Harrell.

As a result, San Joaquin took this opportunity to cement our partnership with the academy and establish a long-term recruiting initiative that would allow the top graduating cadets to qualify for a permanent full time wage grade 3 positions in UGR mission area.

“These students made a life choice to improve their socio-economic situation by volunteering for the academy.  By giving them a chance to establish a professional career with DLA through the Direct Hire Authority program which was endorsed by DLA Headquarters, we are changing their lives forever and adding quality young employees to our DLA workforce,” said Harrell. 

Further, this partnership was formed to better align our workforce. The average age of the DDJC workforce is 47 years-old and based on the DLA Culture Survey, it was revealed that 25 percent of the staff would retire within the next two to five years through attrition; losing approximately 100 employees per year due to retirements and other forms of separation.

“We needed to change the demographic and start hiring some of the local young talent that’s looking for a promising career for themselves and their respective families. Moreover, the academy’s cadets are taught similar values that are embraced and institutionalized at DLA,” commented Harrell.

Harrell went on to discuss that the academy graduates are the most qualified candidates for an entry level basic laborer position with DLA Distribution and their transition will be seamless and aligned to the resilient culture we’ve cultivated at Team San Joaquin. 

“These young adults are eager to make their mark in the world and there’s no better career opportunity for an 18 year old than in serving one’s country as a valued and empowered government employee of DLA that supports the DOD, Whole of Government, and Foreign Allied customers across the world. It’s possible that one of these graduates could be the next senior executive service leader in DLA or the Office of the Secretary of Defense one day,” said Harrell.