Social Enterprise

Creating training and employment opportunities through contracts with local businesses and through our own Social Enterprises have been core to Challenge’s mission almost since its inception.

From bottle washing and recycling to running the dish rooms at Cornell, Ithaca College and Wegmans, Challenge has taken an entrepreneurial approach to generate income in support of our mission.

Our current Social Enterprises employ a diverse workforce that includes people with and without disabilities.  Challenge employs over 150 people from different backgrounds across our businesses.

Challenge Commercial Cleaning was created as a response to the need in the community for a reliable, flexible cleaning service. With over 30 commercial cleaning customers in Tompkins County, Challenge Commercial Cleaning has the expertise and staff to serve all your professional cleaning needs. From large educational clients to small and mid-sized business: no task is too big or too small for our professionally managed and fully bonded crews. We have the capacity and staff to address large commercial cleaning accounts and the customer service and flexibility to clean individual offices, labs or day care centers quickly and cost effectively. For more information or to request a competitive quote on any size commercial cleaning project, please contact us.

Roy Murdough
General Manager
607.272.8990 Ext. 136
E-mail: Roy

Challenge Contract Production grew out of a need of local businesses for additional labor. Challenge already had a history of training people with disabilities and other employment barriers for jobs in our community. We decided to hone our skills to the needs of business and Challenge Contract Production was born.

Currently in our 7,000 sq ft fully-licensed facility we package dry goods for a host of companies such as William Sonoma, Tropical Foods, Stonewall Kitchens, Redco Junket, Barefoot Contessa and many more. It is our commitment to 100% quality control and quality assurance that keep our food packing partners returning with further orders.

In our other production facility, we perform a myriad of assembly projects for local businesses like Cornell University, Ithaca College, Transact Technologies, Borg Warner Automotive, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Discovery Trail. Attention to detail and superb supervision keeps these large projects assembled correctly and delivered out the door on time.

And we discovered a monstrous need for confidential shredding. We currently serve over 50 local companies as well as Tompkins County’s 30 administrative offices.

Alan Thomas
General Manager
607.272.8990 Ext. 165
E-mail: Alan

For many years, Challenge Contract Staffing has been meeting the contract staffing needs of the two largest educational institutions in Tompkins County – while providing on-the-job training and career paths for people with barriers to employment.

Our fully supervised crews deliver hundreds of shifts per week to cover dish rooms and other dining room responsibilities for our customers. By focusing on delivering service to large dining hall operations, we’re able to let our customers focus on delivering balanced meals to students. When they engage our Contract Staffing business, customers know their dish rooms are running safely and efficiently. And, we handle recruiting, payroll, insurance and day-to-day management for all of our crews, while meeting strict contract and legal requirements.

Larry Workman
General Manager
607.272.8990 Ext. 142
E-mail: Larry

For 20 years, Challenge Imaging has been providing archival services to libraries, universities & colleges, and government offices and has earned a reputation of specializing in historical microfilming and digitization. Our national customers have included the Baseball Hall of Fame, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, the George Eastman House, and others.

With the acceptance of digital technologies in preservation and the ever-increasing need for access to data files, Challenge now also converts stored 16mm & 35mm microfilm records into usable digital files. We can create CDs & DVDs and offer indexing and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) as search methodology. Our customers now have instant access to documents in a digital format. No more time-consuming microfilm readers and lost time searching film archives. Information stored forever on microfilm, but accessible on your computer. With our large format scanner we have the ability to scan maps and architectural drawings.

Alan Thomas
General Manager
607.272.8990 Ext. 165
E-mail: Alan

This social enterprise was started in 2013 to support the food and agriculture industries.  Finger Lakes Fresh produces its own branded product, and also provides packaging services for other large and small food companies.

The services provided include packaging and labeling of fresh and dry products.  Some of our customers are recipe box programs, dry goods manufacturers, granola companies, and confectionaries.

When Finger Lakes Fresh is not packing for other companies, the staff and participants produce our own Empire Apple Chips.  The chips are made from 100% New York apples and have no other added ingredients.  This amazingly crunchy, healthy snack supports both NY farms and provides fulfilling work for the community. The snack size bags are served across NY State, including grocery stores, vending machines, schools, and coffee shops.

In the upcoming years Finger Lakes Fresh hopes to expand its distribution of Apple Chips to every school district and additional retailers across the state. Finger Lakes Fresh empowers people with disabilities and other barriers to work, it also provides solutions for local food companies!

Vickie Black
General Manager
E-mail: Vickie

Ability in Bloom was inspired by one young man, Adam.  Adam has been growing flowers and food on a volunteer basis through programs at Challenge since 2008.  Adam has tried various jobs at Challenge and in the community, but he is not able to work on his own.  What Adam does have are the skills to help grow flowers as part of a larger team.  Adam is also an artist whose paintings show a unique vision.  His work appears in the logo for our business.

Ability in Bloom launched in 2015 as a means of providing Adam and other Challenge clients who are not ready or able to make the leap into community employment with job skills training and a stable, community- based work opportunity.  The workers in this small cooperative enterprise are able to use their unique abilities to be productive members of a team.  Employees of Ability in Bloom work both out in the field and in-house at Challenge to produce our bouquets.  Some of our employees may move on to other jobs or stay as permanent members of the team.

Currently, we grow flowers at the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming Incubator Farm at Ecovillage and at the Ithaca Community Garden. Next year, we will grow at the Incubator Farm while transitioning our operations to a permanent location.

More information can be found on our Supported Employment page

Glen Robertson
607.272.8990 Ext. 159
E-mail: Glen