The Minute Car Wash proprietor in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, became a mentor and inspiration to Dan Perkins. As a business owner, Perkins wanted to pay-it-forward to the students of his hometown.
He met with Barbara Grandinetti, who at the time was a school board member for Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown. They had a common objective: Inspire high school students to stay in school, achieve their best and be ready for the world beyond – To Believe, Reach and Achieve. Together, they developed a real-world concept – reward students who go above and beyond with a financial incentive.
In 2003, they implemented the inaugural Program at Bishop McCort High School, presenting cash awards to students for their success. The creative motivational aspect was well received. Perkins and Grandinetti quickly realized this concept would work around the region and The Challenge Program, Inc. was formed. Grandinetti was named Executive Director and is still with the organization.
Perkins and Grandinetti have strengthened the workforce component of the Program connecting businesses and education to prepare students for the future and retain youth within the regions of the businesses’ interests. They have proved over and over that a business can best demonstrate to students the relevancy between high school habits and their future.
The Program awards students in five categories: Attendance, STEM, Community Service, Academic Improvement and Academic Excellence. The Challenge Program, Inc. has participating high schools in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Since its inception, The Challenge Program, Inc. has reached over a half million students and awarded more than $3 million.