Robert R. Sprole, Sr., the former president of Therm, founded Challenge in 1968. He formed this vocational rehabilitation center as a not-for-profit corporation that would provide disabled individuals with evaluation, job training and job counseling services. Sprole’s goal with Challenge was to find a realistic and appropriate job for everyone in the community who faced barriers to employment.
The 1970s paved the way for this new organization to find a proper home. At 402 E. State St., formerly Ithaca Textiles, Inc., we operated such businesses as a mailroom, a print shop, a thrift store, a wood shop and a janitorial service. The 1980s brought a community expansion to Challenge, as we signed a contract with Ithaca College to operate the school’s contract staffing.
With the 1990s and the turn of the century, we began preparing workers for the modernization of the workplace. Computer skills were taught in labs, and more programs were devised to prepare workers for the new challenges of the technological age. Partnerships were forged with Cornell University in the establishment of microfilming services in 1993, and later digital services in 2004, and the acquisition of Finger Lakes Fresh, a hydroponic greenhouse operation, in 2005.
In 2010, we moved from our State Street location to a new home in the South Hill Business Campus. The space in this new facility offers better, safer, more appropriate space for our expanding programs and business operations.