Nick DeIuliis, president and CEO of CNX Resources Corp., is launching a mentorship academy for disadvantaged youth from both urban and rural areas that will help them build a bridge to middle-class success.

The first mentorship academy, which will begin in the summer, will include 12 high school juniors or seniors drawn from economically disadvantaged communities in western Pennsylvania, with six from urban areas and six from rural areas. The academy will meet a full day every month for a year, with a field visit or a site visit as well as guest speakers. DeIuliis said the topics discussed will include leadership, a career path that doesn't necessarily include college, resume creation and interviewing, civics and business, among other topics.

DeIuliis will fund the program's startup and first-year costs, and none of the students will pay anything.

Joining in the effort are The Bus Stops Here Foundation and the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania, as well as CNX (NYSE: CNX). CNX and DeIuliis recently began a partnership with The Bus Stops Here Foundation and Bettis Brothers in an effort to increase diversity in the oil and gas industry.

"Those are the founding partners," DeIuliis said. "This concept came to life through these conversations with those individual entities."

Other partners will be announced later, and DeIuliis said there's room for more companies, organizations and experts who may want to get involved.

DeIuliis said he envisioned the program as providing a way to the middle class for young people in economically challenged communities. He said the program would introduce youth to solid careers in manufacturing, energy and other industries that don't require a college degree. He said that one of the things holding youth from disadvantaged communities from getting ahead is not having mentors, advisers and people who can connect them to career paths, jobs or other opportunities. He said the junior and senior years of high school are critical.

He said the academy would work from a syllabus and materials that will also be available online. He said that just as important as the topics presented will be the relationships that are developed, between the juniors and seniors from different backgrounds who will come together for the academy as well as the mentors who will be involved.

"There will be a lot of conversations and interaction outside the one day," DeIuliis said.

He also believes that the annual graduates of the academy will likely stay in touch, providing a close-knit group of support and opportunities, as well as a network to draw upon for successor graduates.

DeIuliis, a voice for manufacturing and natural gas locally and nationally, said he believes the academy will be both fun and fruitful. He hopes it will play a role in increasing the opportunities in western Pennsylvania.

"I view this as a rate-of-return investment within the region," he said.

He said he was pleased to get the academy started but wants the vision to expand as more people get involved, while still remaining a part of it.

"The objective now is to construct it, launch it, figure it out as we go," DeIuliis said. "I am certain, I am very confident that in a short amount of time it will be well beyond me with its own experts and drivers of the organization and effort."