The Challenge Program Logo HomeAbout UsParticipating SchoolsPhoto GalleryContact UsMake a Donation

History and Program Description

TCP was founded in 2003 by Dan Perkins, owner and Chief Executive Officer of MTS Technologies, Inc. Mr. Perkins, a Johnstown, PA native, wanted to create a program to give back to the community that supported him during his developing years. After meeting Barbara Grandinetti, who would later join the program as Founding Executive Director, Mr. Perkins sought to create a program that would further motivate high school students to succeed and achieve even greater things while in high school and beyond. Partnering with Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown, Mr. Perkins and Ms. Grandinetti formed an incentive program that would pay cash to students for their success. Realizing the need for this kind of program in additional schools, The Challenge Program, Inc. was formed. 

Our mission is to partner with businesses to motivate high school students to excel both in and out of the classroom. This partnership creates good habits in students and provides businesses with tangible results for their investments.

What We Do

The Challenge Program, Inc. contributes to workforce and economic development by partnering businesses with high schools to achieve a common objective: the development of a skilled and motivated future workforce

Our program exposes students to career opportunities in their own communities and challenges students to develop good work habits they will need to be successful both in high school and in the workforce.

How We Do It

The Challenge Program, Inc. carries out its mission of building business-education partnerships and motivating high school students through in-school assemblies and ceremonies as well as frequent communication with our educational and business partners. 

Orientation Assembly

A local business partner joins The Challenge Program, Inc. at the Orientation Assembly to present the program to a full assembly of sophomore, junior, and senior students. The purpose of the assembly is to introduce students to career opportunities and challenge them to compete in five award categories that are directly linked with the qualities, skills, and characteristics that companies seek in their employees:

  • Attendance
  • Academic Excellence
  • Academic Improvement
  • Community Service and
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
All students in the sophomore, junior, and senior classes participate in the assembly and thus are eligible to compete for our awards. No sign-up form is required. For more on our awards criteria and guidelines, click here

The business-education partnerships formed at the Orientation Assembly lead to mutually beneficial results. Students are introduced to career pathways and motivated to develop good work habits. Meanwhile, business partners help to build the next generation of motivated, hardworking employees who will ensure that their company stays successful well into the future.

Throughout the Academic Year
The Challenge Program, Inc. works with its educational and business partners throughout the year to build meaningful relationships between the two entities and keep the program's message alive in the minds of students.

Business partners are encouraged to engage with their partnering schools to "grow their own workforce" by making classroom visits, offering facility tours and job shadowing opportunities, and even influencing the development of new school curriculum.

Students are frequently reminded of the program through targeted posters, banners, announcements, newsletters, and social media posts throughout the school year. 

Senior Awards Ceremony

In the spring, The Challenge Program, Inc. and the local business partner return to each school for a Senior Awards Ceremony. During the ceremony, five senior students who have taken and met the challenges proposed to them at the start of the school year are rewarded with a $200 cash incentive. Sophomore and junior students are rewarded for their efforts during the Fall Orientation Assembly.

  • Since its inception in 2003, the program was been introduced to over 465,000 students.
  • During the 2013/14 school year, the program was presented to approximately 61,000 students in 122 high schools.
  • To date, the program has awarded over $2.45 million to high school students.
  • Endorsed by several high growth industries.
  • The program has received major grant support from the Benedum Foundation, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, PNC Charitable Trust Foundation, and the EQT Foundation.

Program Impact

The impact The Challenge Program, Inc. makes on the lives of high school students can be read in the countless letters we receive from our award winners. In addition to these testimonials, we have been able to capture live feedback from high school students and educators participating in the program through an online survey. The 2,736 student responses collected for the 2012-2013 school year showed staggering support for the program:

  • 91% of students believe "The Challenge Program, Inc. meets its goal in motivating students to strive for academic excellence."
  • 90% of students believe "The Challenge Program, Inc. meets its goal in motivating students to improve academically."
  • 83% of students believe "The Challenge Program, Inc. motivates students to strive for improved attendance."
  • 78% of students believe "The Challenge Program, Inc. meets its goal in encouraging students to participate in community service/service learning."
  • 92% of students "would recommend The Challenge Program, Inc. to a school that does not have it yet."

View 2012-2013 Student Status Report

View 2014 Senior Status Report

Believe. Reach. Achieve.
Believe. Reach. Achieve.
Believe. Reach. Achieve.