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Quality Cadet Unit Award

Any cadet unit that displays strong program fundamentals can earn the Quality Cadet Unit Award. This new award motivates squadrons to pursue goals that we think will inevitably lead to their having a vibrant Cadet Program. The Quality Cadet Unit Award is purely objective. Cadet and composite squadrons who meet the challenging criteria below automatically earn the award. 

 Quality Data 1 September 2013 - 31 March 2014

All cadet and composite squadrons and flights with a minimum of 10 cadets are eligible. 

2013-2014 CRITERIA (Data from 1 September 2013 through 31 August 2014)
The award criteria are entirely objective.  Any unit that meets at least 5 of the 11 criteria listed below, as of 31 August, qualifies:

  • Adult Leadership: Unit has at least 3 Training Leaders of Cadets graduates on its roster
  • Aerospace: Unit earned the Aerospace Excellence Award (AEX) during the school year
  • Cadet Achievement: 40% of cadets on roster have attained the Wright Brothers Award
  • DDR Participation: 20% of cadets on roster have completed DDRx or unit participated in RRLA
  • Encampment: 50% of cadets on roster have completed encampment
  • Enrollment: Unit has at least 35 cadets listed on its roster
  • Growth: Unit’s cadet roster increased by 10%, or 10 cadets
  • Orientation Flights: 60% of cadets on roster have participated in at least 1 flight
  • Retention: Unit retained 40% of first year cadets (cadets that joined from 1 September 2012 through 31 August 2013)
  • * CyberPatriot: Have one or more teams competing in CyberPatriot
  • * STEM Kits: Submit an after-action report for receipt and implementation of a STEM Kit

* Additional criteria added as options to earn the Quality Award.  The number of required criteria remains the same.

You can see if your unit is on track to receive the award throughout the year by using the calculations file (excel 2007).  Just fill in the yellow cells.


  1. Each September 8th, NHQ will examine every cadet and composite squadron’s performance in the criteria above, as reflected in eServices. Every cadet and composite squadron is automatically considered for the award – there is no application procedure necessary.
  2. Each September, NHQ will announce the winning squadrons on this webpage. Award elements will be mailed to the respective wing headquarters, for presentation at a suitable venue.

Cadet and composite squadrons that qualify for the Quality Cadet Unit Award will receive the following:

  1. An award emblem for the unit’s website, letterhead, recruiting materials, and other publications.
  2. A certificate that will be presented by wing headquarters at an appropriate venue


1.    How does the Quality Cadet Unit Award affect the Squadron of Merit Award program? 
The Squadron of Merit Award remains in effect, but only one squadron per wing wins that award each year. The SOM program allows the wing commander to make subjective judgments about which unit is the “best” in the wing, while the Quality Cadet Unit Award is purely objective. One would hope that the SOM winner would also be a QCUA winner, but that is not a pre-requisite.   

2.     Isn’t the Quality Cadet Unit Award basically a return of the “CAP-MAP” program of the 1980s?
Not at all. CAP-MAP measured administrative inputs – Did you complete a chaplain report?, Did you submit an encampment report?, Did you appoint a CAC representative?, etc. In contrast, the QCUA measures outcomes – Are you flying cadets?, Are you sending cadets to encampment?, Is your unit growing? It was conceivable for a CAP-MAP winning unit to be a paper tiger, while a QCUA winning unit will necessarily have an active, flourishing Cadet Program.  
3.    Management Tool 
The Quality Cadet Unit Award can serve as a helpful management tool. Local leaders can use its award criteria to gauge the relative health of their Cadet Program. Wing leaders can use the QCUA program to identify squadrons that are flourishing, and perhaps use leaders of those outstanding units to mentor leaders in nearby units that did not earn the award.

Steven Trupp, NHQ Program Manager

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