Senators Carper, Coons announce new funding for Challenge Program Furniture’s shop expansion to support youth employment

WILMINGTON, Del. – U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) today joined Executive Director of the Challenge Program Andrew McKnight and other Delaware community and business leaders to announce that the Senators have secured the $500,000 in new funding to support Challenge Program Furniture and the completion of its new furniture shop in Wilmington. Sens. Carper and Coons spearheaded the project in the FY2022 Appropriations bill so that Challenge Program can provide increased job opportunities for underserved student workers. 

“For over two decades, the Challenge Program has provided at-risk youth in Delaware with invaluable skills to pursue educational and career opportunities, while bolstering the local workforce” said Carper. “I was proud to work with Senator Coons and Congresswoman Blunt Rochester to secure an $500,000 investment for this vital program that will empower our community, strengthen our workforce, and bring a new life to a part of Wilmington that has long been abandoned.” 

“I’m proud to support the work of Andrew McKnight and his team to provide opportunities to at-risk youth in Wilmington while also bolstering our state’s workforce with hands-on job training and skill development,” said Senator Coons. “I’ve seen firsthand the tremendous good that the Challenge Program does, and I’m excited to see how this additional funding will help support their efforts.”  

“As the former Secretary of Labor in Delaware, I know the critical importance of getting our young people involved and invested in workforce training opportunities,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “I can think of few better programs in our state of Delaware than the Challenge Program. I’ve had the chance to visit with Andrew and his remarkable staff as they craft, not only beautiful furniture – but incredibly bright futures for young Delawareans. I was proud to champion last year’s appropriations bill with my colleagues Senators Carper & Coons to secure this critical funding which will help continue to expand opportunity for Delaware’s young people.”

“We’re all proud of this,” said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki. “The way we get judged is how we treat the folks in the neighborhood. Show them the kind of extraordinary possibilities that are available to them.”

“I’d like to thank Senators Carper and Coons for coming down today as we celebrate these investments in this new facility,” said Andrew McKnight. “Workforce development requires real investment, and I’m proud to say our Department of Labor, members of Congress, and private sector understand this. This is of, by, and for our trainees, and I’m proud to recognize them today.”

“The trainees that participate in the program, many of whom face multiple barriers, have made the affirmative decision to choose success. Trainees spend their time learning new skills and building buildings in some of our communities that suffer from the highest rates of violence. That is why I believe the Challenge program is more than the Construction Skills Program,” said DE Secretary of Labor Karryl Hubbard. “A sincere thank you to Senator Coons and Senator Carper and our other partners here today, and Andrew McKnight and your team for your commitment to developing our workforce and improving many lives.”