The Challenge Program, Inc.'s Newsletter
Spring-Summer 2017

Chris Cable, 2017 Student of the Year

“I have changed my ‘don’t care’ and negative attitudes to one of possibilities and achievement.”
Chris Cable, 2017 Student of the Year, Beaver County CTC

Crystal Owl Gala
and Student of the Year

The Challenge Program, Inc. (TCP) held the 2017 Crystal Owl Gala on April 27th at the Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh. Good music, good food, wonderful  auction and another awesome Student of the Year presentation were enjoyed by our many guests, friends, board members and staff. A special note of appreciation goes to our co-chairs, John Weinstein and Robert Fragasso, our dedicated board members and the Young Professionals Group in Pittsburgh for their work and support of the Crystal Owl Gala.
Student of the Year Candidates (click names to read their stories)
Chris Cable, senior (middle)
Beaver County CTC supported by Questeq
Myles Cramer, junior (left)
Greene County CTC supported by Noble Energy.
Alyssa Martyak, junior (right)
Cambria Heights High School supported by Highmark and C-B-W Schools Federal Credit Union.
All three students received a $1,000 check made possible by TCP board member Tony Bucci.

Workforce Connections

“By focusing on high-growth industries, we are connecting students with careers in their communities; with viable employment for their future careers. ”
Barbara Grandinetti, Executive Director, The Challenge Program, Inc.

Corle Building Systems became a Major Corporate Partner in the winter of 2017, during their second year of partnership with The Challenge Program, Inc. Their three-year commitment includes four, 8-week summer internships for each of the three years.
Students who are Challenge Program award finalists in any participating high school in Bedford County, may apply for intern openings with Corle Building Systems.
Corle Building Systems also partners specifically with Bedford High School, Bedford CTC and Chestnut-Ridge High School.
For the third year running, TCP is working to facilitate meaningful connections between business partners, students, and educators to raise awareness about the career opportunities in communities and elevate student career-readiness. This year, 68% of TCP partnerships have engaged or begun discussions to collaborate on activities. 
A giant step forward was the creation of four summer learning experiences with TCP’s Major Corporate Partner, Corle Building Sytems, in Bedford County. The first four graduated students from high schools throughout Bedford County will begin their 8-week time with Corle on June 26, 2017.
Available to Major Corporate Partners, if they choose this option, is the opportunity to create a recruiting pipeline in the areas where their business operates. Establishing major corporate sponsorship allows a business to access graduating senior award finalists from participating TCP schools who can apply to various internship opportunities within the organization.
The Challenge Program, Inc. makes every effort to facilitate a connection between all business partners and the school(s) of their choice throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. These activities have included career fairs, facility tours, mock-interviews, job-shadowing, learning based projects, classroom presentations and more. Your TCP Program Manager will be happy to discuss and work with you and your school.

For  information on Major Corporate Partnerships, call Barbara Grandinetti, Executive Director, at  814-533-9401 or email


Myra Bernhart
Workforce Development Manager

Meet TCP’s Workforce Development Manager, Myra Bernhart. Bernhart coordinates workforce development initiatives between businesses and career and technology education centers for The Challenge Program, Inc. The responsibilities of workforce management include implementing a client-centered service approach to workforce development among high school students. Bernhart is responsible for ensuring meaningful connections between these schools and businesses as well as new business support for TCP.   Bernhart has a long career history with job training and development having designed and implemented a variety of workforce related projects and programs including youth summer placement.  Bernhart will focus on high-growth industries where skill-gaps exist in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Washington counties.
Bernhart is pictured with The Challenge Program, Inc. founder, Dan Perkins.



…of surveyed businesses participating on our three Business/Education Advisory Councils agree that The Challenge Program, Inc.’s award categories contribute to career-readiness and are helpful habits to be successful in their organizations.

Twice a year, The Challenge Program surveys Award Finalists, Educators, and Business Partners, to keep in touch with how the Program messaging, activities and communications are working.  We begin in the fall and survey all the underclassmen from the previous year who are eligible to win an award. Then we survey the  educators and business partners to see if our presentation assembly was effective.  In the spring, we survey senior award finalists and then conduct an end-of-year survey with educators and  businesses to assure the Program met their expectations.
These surveys provide TCP with vital feedback to improve and keep in step with  the needs and trends of schools and businesses regarding career-readiness.

2017 End-of -Year Surveys reveal...

91% of surveyed SENIORS agreed:
they personally benefited from competing for an award.

74% of surveyed SENIORS agreed:
the workforce activities with businesses were helpful regarding future career pursuits.

83% of surveyed EDUCATORS agreed:
they noticed a difference in attendance, grades and overall school engagement due to The Challenge Program, Inc.

93% of surveyed BUSINESSES agreed:
TCP effectively introduces career-readiness and employment opportunities through presentations and workforce connections.

2017 Polytechnic Career Awareness Events

Somerset & Washington Counties

First introduced in 2016 in Cambria County, TCP presented two more of our unique forums in Somerset and Washington Counties. The events display highly-skilled occupations available in this region, where the future workforce is graduating. These positions offer family-sustaining wages, provide stimulating work environments and often require 18-24 months of post-secondary training and/or education.
TCP collaborated with  businesses in these counties along with education and community partners. Together, we delivered information about current opportunities and the paths to employment and training without having to leave the region.



2017 Senior Awards…


Brandon N.Laurel Highlands High School
Academic Improvement Award
GPA Increase: +1.7 – Dropped out for 2015-2016. Came back  for 2016-2017 as a senior and graduated
Javon D.Pittsburgh CAPA High School
Academic Improvement Award
GPA Increase: +.9. – Javon overcame many personal issues and still increased his GPA
Emily W.Conemaugh Township High School
Academic Improvement Award
Increased Class Rank by 31 places
Erin R.Yough High School
Academic Improvement Award
Increased Class Rank by 12 places
Cheyenne B. – Albert Gallatin High School
Academic Improvement Award
GPA Increase: +1.3
Richard Y. – Hundred High School
Community Service Award
1,412 Service Hours



Charles M. – Hundred High School
Academic Improvement Award
GPA Increase: +1.75
Abigail B. – Canon-McMillian High School
Community Service Award
685 Service Hours,. 350 hours donated to research at Hillman Cancer Center
Urvi G. – Seneca Valley High School
Academic Excellence Award
Attending Case Western Reserve University
Pre-Professional Program for Medicine
Christopher M. – Penns Manor High School
STEM Award
Enrolled in four STEM courses, averaging 99% in all
Marlena Z. – Somerset County Technology Center
Academic Improvement Award
GPA Increase: +30%
Matthew A. – Springdale High School
Community Service Award
Completed over 600 Service Hours, Valedictorian, National Merit Scholar, U.S. Navy


Melanie and Sydney

The Challenge Program, Inc. Summer Interns

A senior this fall at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Melanie Muha will graduate this December with a Bachelor of Arts in communications with a minor in writing. She is a graduate of Penn Highlands Community College and the Disney College. Melanie was hired as both a summer and fall intern with TCP and has this to say regarding her experience so far, “I feel as though I have finally gained a purpose greater than just looking good or spending all my time trying to get the boss to remember my name. From press releases to social media to  8 hour staff meetings, none of it is painful. The program alone is rewarding in itself when you know the impact it has had on students.”  Melanie developed TCP’s new blog, “An Inside Look at The Challenge Program, Inc.” and will be managing and posting regularly. 


Sydney Petro is a senior marketing major with a minor in accounting from Saint Francis University,* scheduled to graduate Spring 2018. She plans to return to SFU for her master’s degree in business administration following graduation. Sydney is a member of the Shields School of Business Student Advisory Board and the Class of 2018 proxy Representative of the Senate Committee and is a third year Resident Assistant.  Sydney is a church cantor and a professional wedding singer. Her future goal is to become an event planner. As for her time here with The Challenge Program, Sydney has this to say, “Receiving the internship is truly amazing. The experience and knowledge that I am gaining will forever help me in my future. I am so honored to be given the opportunity to work for this company.
*Saint Francis University is a TCP Business Partner, supporting Seton-LaSalle High School.

What’s Next?


The 2017 Kick-off Assembly
is in progress.

To keep up on the latest, be sure to check our News Posts on the Home Page and follow our Blog.

See you in the Fall!



Testimonials: Dear Mr. Perkins