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Quality Cadet Unit Award

COVID-19.  Criteria for the 2019/2020 award year have been adjusted.


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



All cadet and composite squadrons and flights with a minimum of 10 cadets are eligible and are automatically considered for the award. 


2019 - 2020 CRITERIA

Award winners are determined by their performance from 31 August 2019 through 31 August 2020. The award criteria are entirely objective.  Unit that meets at least 5 of the 10 criteria listed below on 31 August 2020 earn the award.

  • Cadet Achievement:  45% of cadets on roster have attained the Wright Brothers Award     

  • Orientation Flights:  70% of cadets on roster have participated in at least 1 flight

  • Retention: Unit retained 50% of first year cadets during previous year

  • Adult Leadership: Unit has at least 3 Training Leaders of Cadets graduates on its roster

  • Encampment: 55% of cadets on roster have completed encampment 

  • Growth: Unit’s cadet roster increased by 10% or 10 cadets during previous year

  • Aerospace: Unit earned the Aerospace Excellence Award (AEX) during previous year or unit sent in an AAR after ordering a STEM Kit

  • Enrollment: Unit has at least 35 cadets listed on its roster

  • Outside Activities: Unit participated in CyberPatriot, Team America Rocketry Challenge, StellarXplorers, or hosted a Red Ribbon Leadership Academy     

  • Emergency Services: 60% of cadets on roster have GES certification


The social distancing measures in effect to slow the spread of COVID-19 have significantly impacted cadets’ squadron meetings and summer opportunities.  We know squadrons are still working hard to offer vibrant programs, support and community during this time.  To recognize this, the number of criteria to earn the 2019/2020 Quality Cadet Unit Award has been adjusted.  Rather than eliminate categories entirely, reducing the number to be met offers units the most flexibility in achieving the award.


Pull the Quality Cadet Unit Report from Member Reports to see how your unit is doing. Please note that this is a tracking report and numbers change throughout the year.

Find a detailed breakdown of your QCUA numbers in eServices > Cadet Programs > Cadet Promotions > QCUA Details


1.  Each September, 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.  Initial data is sent to all commanders for questions and corrections, as necessary.

3.  NHQ will announce the winning squadrons on this webpage. Award elements will be emailed to the respective wing headquarters, for printing and 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

Streamer element is not provided by NHQ.  Wings or units may choose to purchase the streamer from Vanguard.



1.    I think our unit should be credited for something that isn't appearing on the report.  How can I make sure we receive the credit?

The award and associated report pull the information directly from eServices.  Most likely you'll need to make sure the information has been entered into the associated module correctly.  Here's how the award elements are tracked:

  • Adult Leadership: TLC credit granted when the TLC director sends the CAPF11 of participants to

  • Aerospace Excellence Award: Credit granted through AEX module

  • STEM Kit:  Send in an after-action report on a STEM Kit.  Credit will be given for the year the kit is completed, regardless of when the kit was ordered.

  • Cadet Achievement: Cadet Promotions module

  • Encampment: Encampment commanders credit cadets with graduation credit in the Encampment Reporting module of eServices.

  • Enrollment, Growth & Retention:

  • Orientation Flights: WMIRS

  • Outside Activities: Eservices reporting module under construction

  • GES:  CAPT 116 in the Learning Management System

If you cannot resolve the issue with one of the above links, email us at  

2.    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.   

3.     My unit experienced a special circumstance this year (new charter, spun off a new squadron, merged with another squadron).  How can I make sure this is taken into consideration?

You’re right, the cold, impersonal eServices data can sometimes give an inaccurate view of what’s actually happening on the ground.  The guidelines for the award are meant to encourage squadrons to stretch and pursue goals they might not otherwise.  They are not meant to discourage recruiting, allowing transfers, nor promoting cadets before they're ready or anything similar.  Each year the draft data is sent to all commander in early September.  There is a link included to submit a request for a change or correction.  Please let us know what's going on so we can make sure the data's showing things accurately.

4.     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.  

5.  How can I get credit for the Outside Activities category? 

Currently only participation in CyberPatriot, Team America Rocketry Challenge, StellarXplorers, or hosting a Red Ribbon Leadership Academy will confer credit.  CyberPatriot credit is entered in April after the final rounds are complete.  If you hosted an RRLA or participated in one of the other competitions, please send documentation to and we'll add the credit.  Participating with a local airshow, middle school aviation day, or other community events are outstanding activities, but do not meet the QCUA criteria.

6.  Why is the QCUA O-Ride number different than the Cadet Orientation Report?

The Cadet Orientation Report shows glider and powered flights done with the CAP Orientation Flight syllabus.  The QCUA report counts these and also military O-rides, or 99 flights.


Kywanna Johnson, NHQ Cadet Programs Coordinator

Last update: 10 September 2020

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