Challenge and Mozaic Form Alliance 4/7/21

Dear community partners, 

On behalf of the Challenge Workforce Solutions Board of Directors, I am delighted to announce that we have finalized an alliance agreement with another regional non-profit agency, Mozaic, effective April 7, 2021. This is an outcome that our board and leadership team have been working towards for several months and we are very excited about what this means for the future of the organization.

With over a century of combined service to thousands of individuals across the Finger Lakes region of New York, Mozaic and Challenge have long shared a common commitment: building one strong community where people with varying abilities and barriers gain independence and become an integral part of society.

In 2020, we began exploring the idea of forming alliance to broaden and strengthen this vital mission. We saw that each partner would bring a unique and symbiotic set of skills to the table.

Mozaic, created upon the merger of the Arc of Seneca Cayuga and the Arc of Yates early last year, is a premiere provider with a comprehensive range of clinical, residential, educational, vocational and day service programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities, as well as a thriving integrated enterprise, Finger Lakes Textiles, which has been manufacturing winter hats and other apparel for U.S. Armed Forces and the public for over 25 years.

Challenge, as many of you know, is regionally distinctive in its specialized focus on community-based prevocational and supported employment services for people with disabilities, mental health diagnoses, and socioeconomic or legal obstacles, as well as its suite of flexible contract staffing solutions that augment essential operations at Cornell University, Cayuga Medical Center, Wegmans, and many other top area employers.

This alliance will position both agencies to offer a more robust array of person-centered, community-integrated services to an expanded geographical area while promoting fiscal sustainability and opening up new avenues for innovation.

On April 7, we welcomed aboard current Mozaic CEO Allen Connely as President and CEO of Challenge Workforce Solutions. Having lived and worked in over twenty countries before stepping into leadership positions at the Keystone Blind Association and then Mozaic, Allen brings a wealth of experience in human services and the business world.

Allen says, “We are excited about this alliance with Challenge. Both organizations strive to provide the highest quality of service and share commonalities in our culture and best practices. The biggest sources of opportunity come through collaborations with excellent organizations and Challenge definitely exemplifies excellence.”

Challenge Workforce Solutions will be retaining its 501(c)(3) status, its staff, its administrative offices and production center at the South Hill Business Campus, and its numerous community partnerships and connections. For program participants, families, and employers, there won’t be any day-to-day changes, and for donors, your generous financial gifts will continue to support Challenge programming.

If you do have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to check our FAQ section below, or contact our Director of Development and Marketing, Tess Fraser, at tess@aboutchallenge.org or 607-272-8990 ext. 125.

As always, we are so grateful for your support—thank you for being part of the Challenge family!

Best,

Kelley Cooper
Chair, Board of Directors
Challenge Workforce Solutions

Alliance FAQ

What’s happening?

With over a century of combined service to thousands of individuals across the Finger Lakes region of New York, Mozaic and Challenge have long shared a common commitment: building one strong community where people with varying abilities and barriers gain independence and become an integral part of society. Effective April 7, 2021, our two nonprofit agencies formed an alliance to broaden and strengthen this vital mission. Each partner brings a unique and symbiotic set of skills to the table. Mozaic is a premiere provider with a comprehensive range of clinical, residential, educational, vocational and day service programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities, as well as a thriving integrated enterprise, Finger Lakes Textiles, which has been manufacturing winter hats and other apparel for U.S. Armed Forces and the public for over 25 years. Challenge is regionally distinctive in our specialized focus on community-based prevocational and supported employment services for people with disabilities, mental health diagnoses, and socioeconomic or legal obstacles, as well as its suite of flexible contract staffing solutions that augment essential operations at Cornell University, Cayuga Medical Center, Wegmans, and many other top area employers. This alliance will position both of our agencies to offer a more robust array of person-centered, community-integrated services to an expanded geographical area while promoting fiscal sustainability and opening up new avenues for innovation.

Are you moving?

No. Our headquarters (administrative offices and work center) will remain at the South Hill Business Campus, 950 Danby Road, Ithaca, and our Employment Specialists and other direct service professionals will continue to be based in Ithaca.

Is this a merger or acquisition?

No. In technical terms, this is a management service agreement, but we like to call it an alliance. While Mozaic’s CEO, Allen Connely, has been jointly appointed as Challenge’s CEO as of April 7, 2021, Challenge remains an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency.

I’m a participant/caregiver/community partner—what does this mean for me?

This new organizational model won’t have any day-to-day impact on our services or community partnerships. Your usual points of contact will remain the same, and they will be happy to address any specific questions or concerns that might arise. If you’re not sure who to speak to, contact Tess Fraser, Director of Development at tess@aboutchallenge.org or 607-272-8990 ext. 125.

I’m a resident of Seneca, Cayuga or Yates County—what Challenge services can I receive?

Our capacity to serve a wider geographical area is one of the key benefits of this alliance, and it’s one that will evolve as we move forward with this new model. Please feel free to reach out to Briggs Seekins, Director of Employment and Vocational Services, with any preliminary queries: briggss@aboutchallenge.org or 607-272-8990 ext. 145.

How does this affect your staffing services?

Challenge will continue to provide flexible contract staffing services to new and existing clients in the region. If you’re a client, you shouldn’t expect any service interruptions or changes in personnel. If you have any specific questions or concerns, feel free to contact Dave Cummings, Director of Contract Staffing, at davec@aboutchallenge.org 607-272-8990 ext. 322.

Is Challenge maintaining its 501(c)(3) status?

Yes. Challenge will remain an independent non-profit organization based in Ithaca, NY.

Will my donations still go to Challenge programs?

Yes. Challenge is retaining its 501(c)(3) status and donations will go to support Challenge’s mission in our community like always. We expect to continue our usual development activities. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Tess Fraser, Director of Development, with any questions or comments: tess@aboutchallenge.org or 607-272-8990 ext. 125.

Are you going to be holding an annual event?

Yes. Following up on our successful virtual awards ceremony in 2020, we are planning another free online event in early June 2021. Follow our Facebook page (/challengeworkforcesolutions) for the latest updates!

Will there be a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts sale?

While COVID precluded our usual February sale, we are contemplating a Halloween-time sale for 2021. Follow our Facebook page (/challengeworkforcesolutions) so you won’t miss any news!

Stay tuned for what’s
Coming Up Next?

Challenge Logo

Thanks For Supporting our annual Krispy Kreme Doughnuts fundraiser!

Joe and Kim eating a large donut

Doughnuts sold!

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