The Challenge Program, Inc.'s Newsletter
June/July 2018

Career Signing Day

Back row left to right: Karen Remick, Somerset CTC Director, Jamie Frampton, Somerset CTC welding instructor, Barbara Grandinetti, President, The Challenge  Program, Inc., Shawn Kaufman HR Director, Riggs Industries, Joseph Smiach, Riggs Industries and Joseph Calderone, Riggs Industries.
Front row left to right: Crystal Shaulis (mother of Andrew Findley) Somerset CTC Graduates/Riggs Employees, Andrew Findley and Russell Persuhn, Angela Persuhn and Russell Persuhn (parents to Russell Persuhn).

Signing days for high school seniors committing to four-year colleges for academics or athletics are common editorials during the spring. The Challenge Program, Inc. and our business partners are expanding signing days with two special events we hope will become a norm for high school seniors.

Riggs Industries Career Signing Day
On May 31, 2018, Riggs Industries, TCP business partner to Somerset CTC held a Career Signing Day for Andrew Findley and Russell Persuhn who have committed to becoming welders for Riggs Industries subsidiary company, J&J Truck Bodies & Trailers of Somerset.

Out of the Gate Employment
It’s no secret that there is a shortage of employees qualified for skilled trades careers. Many of the business sponsors of high schools and career and technology centers currently face this recruiting challenge. TCP is affecting outcomes by giving businesses a platform to speak with students directly about the sustainable wages and career opportunities that exist within their communities, and it’s working!

Andrew Findley and Russell Persuhn worked part-time for Riggs Industries during their senior year of high school, leading the company to make permanent offers of employment to the graduates.

A Media Celebration
A first for Riggs Industries and Somerset CTC, the Career Signing Day showcases Findley’s and Persuhn’s employment commitment and highlights the sustainable wage opportunities that often go unrecognized in communities.

Skills Gap Shortage
Shawn Kaufman, HR Director for Riggs Industries, explains, “Riggs has been forced to turn away contracts because the company doesn’t have a large enough workforce to handle the work.”

“Barb Grandinetti, President of The Challenge Program, Inc., added, “For 20 years, we stopped feeding young people into the trades, now we’re playing catch-up.”

Findley states, “I’m ready to start earning money.”

Looking To the Future
Shawn Kaufman is taking the long view and looking to the future. “These two young men are trailblazers. We hope they are the first of many to take this route.”

COE Intern Signing Day

Standing L-R: COE Employees: Jennifer Jubin, V.P. of Operations; Bill Ulmer, Purchasing Manager; John Townsend, Warehouse Manager; Brent Filak, Controller; Michelle Eitner, HR Manager; J.D. Ewing, Jr., President/CEO.
Seated L-R: High School Graduates/COE Interns, Amanda Gregg, Laurel Highlands/Purchasing Intern; Silvio Urani IV, Uniontown /Logistics Intern; Cole Waligura, Uniontown /Accounting Intern; Giovani Marian, Uniontown /HR Intern.

COE Distributing is a Major Corporate Partner with The Challenge Program, Inc. Their corporate partnership includes sponsoring five high schools with out-reach to four additional schools. These include Albert Gallatin, Brownsville, California, Geibel, and Uniontown High Schools, Connellsville CTC, Fayette CTI, Connellsville and Laurel Highlands High Schools.

Creating a Pipeline
“COE is excited and proud to provide an opportunity for four local high school students to gain experience in the professional world.  At the same time, these students are providing COE Distributing with the opportunity to utilize their talents for the betterment of our business. Through The Challenge Program, Inc., COE is thrilled that our first group of interns are so very talented. We look forward to a successful first summer of this program and gaining momentum for next year’s group.”
James D. Ewing, Jr.
CEO/President, COE Distributing

Keys to Success
For a student to be eligible to apply for an internship, they must become finalists for any one of the five Challenge Program awards:
3.Community Service
4.Academic Improvement
5.Academic Excellence

These award categories represent the solid work habits required for career success. Each year the Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors are challenged to perform their best in all five categories. Finalists are students in the top 10% of an award category and are eligible to apply for an internship with COE Distributing. Award recipients are then chosen from among the finalists to receive the cash incentives.

New COE Interns
On June 8, 2018, four Fayette County graduates signed a commitment with COE Distributing for internships within four departments. The first group of interns to be selected are Amanda Gregg, Purchasing Intern (Laurel Highlands); Silvio Urani IV, Logistics Intern (Uniontown), Cole Waligura, Accounting Intern (Uniontown), and Giovani Marian, Human Resources Intern (Uniontown).

“A Laurel Highlands students was selected for one of the internships. It is great to see a successful local company willing to invest in our community and our future.”
Randy Miller, Guidance Counselor
Laurel Highlands High School

More Workforce Development

Blacklick Valley High School/Cambria Care Center
Cambria Care Center in Ebensburg hosted a tour of interested students from Blacklick Valley High School. Students were treated to a Lunch & Learn session and exposed to a variety of departments which contribute to the successful day to day operations of the facility. Students heard from employees representing Staffing, Dietary, Nursing, and Therapy as well as Marketing and Administration.

Cambria Care Center is part of Grane Healthcare which also sponsors Springdale High School through the HarmarVillage Care Center.

Pittsburgh CAPA High School/MARC USA
MARC USA is a full-service marketing and advertising company in Pittsburgh and sponsors CAPA, Creative and Performing Arts High School also located in Pittsburgh. MARC USA hosted interested students at their Pittsburgh offices to see first-hand the variety of career opportunities available and the career paths involved in Pittsburgh’s advertising industry.

MARC USA also sponsors Barack Obama Academy of International Studies.

Business Partners of The Challenge Program, Inc. frequently participate in career days of the individual schools they support. It is proven to be a great way to engage with the entire student body, one on one. Students ask questions and gather information regarding available employment opportunities, training and education paths, and a particular industry.

Through the efforts of The Challenge Program, Inc. and the school administration the career day at CAPA included several TCP business sponsors participating in the event. Participants in the May event were Major Corporate Partner, COE Distributing Grane Healthcare/QNS Recruiting, Huntington Bank, and WadeTrim.

Testimonials: Dear Mr. Perkins