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Quality Cadet Unit Award



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.



2020 - 2021 CRITERIA

Award winners are determined by their performance from 31 August 2020 through 31 August 2021. The award criteria are entirely objective.  Unit that meets at least 5 of the 7 criteria listed below on 31 August 2020 earn the award. 

  • *Cadet Achievement:  40% of cadets on roster have attained the Wright Brothers Award     

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

  • *Onboarding:  70% of all new cadets from 31 August 2020 earned Achievement 1 in 8 weeks **Modified to 70% on 6/22/2021

  • Aerospace: Unit earned the Aerospace Excellence Award (AEX) or sent in an AAR after ordering a STEM Kit during this award cycle

  • *Enrollment: Unit has at least 20 cadets listed on its roster

  • *Outside Activities: Unit hosted a Red Ribbon Leadership Academy or participated in a STEM competition listed below 

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

* new or adjusted for 2021


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 match the practical realities squadrons were facing, the 2021 criteria were chosen understanding that in-person activities are reduced or not allowed at this time.  We ask units to continue pursuing the standards of excellence represented by the QCUA, but caution that we may adjust the criteria further to match the realities of cadet life under Covid.  Every effort is being made to keep the award meaningful and challenging, yet fair.  

Outside Activities

The goal of the Outside Activities criterion is to encourage units to interact with organizations outside of CAP.  The following activities/competitions are approved for credit:

Red Ribbon Leadership Academy


Team America Rocketry Challenge



More coming soon!

To receive credit for an above STEM competition or RRLA please submit proof of participation here. CyberPatriot and StellarXplorers credit were automatically added to the reporting in March/April. If you're familiar with another STEM competition that you think should be considered to be included for future years, please submit to for consideration.  



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. Streamers will be mailed to the respective wing headquarters.  Certificates will be emailed 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 (available for download on this page)

2.  A Quality Cadet Unit Award streamer and certificate that will be presented by wing headquarters at an appropriate venue

Streamer elements provided by NHQ starting in 2019.  Wings or units may choose to purchase streamers for previous years 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

  • Outside Activities: Automatic for CyberPatriot and StellarXplorers Teams. Eservices reporting module under construction for other activities.

  • GES:  CAPT 116 General ES in AXIS 

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, UAS4STEM or hosting a Red Ribbon Leadership Academy will confer credit.  CyberPatriot and StellarXplorers credit is entered in March/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. 


Tammy Hallihan, Program Manager

Last update: 22 June 2021

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