Media Contact: Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
Direct: 352.291.9559 Mobile: 352.816.1264
[email protected]

OCALA, Fla. (Dec. 3, 2019) – Phoenix Rising YouthBuild students will trade hardhats and tool belts for mortar boards and diplomas as they graduate from Marion County’s 10th Phoenix Rising YouthBuild project.

Graduation takes place Tuesday, Dec. 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the College of Central Florida Webber Center, 3001 SW College Road, in Ocala.

During the program, the following graduates will be recognized: Dazreashia “Daz” Coleman, Jakeem McQueen, Jakira Walker, John Gaulke, Korey Dubois, Milena Hovis, Noah Cloud, Rakim Daughn, Robert Thomas, Tarvis Taylor Jr., Tyrese Benton, Wender Mora Peguero, William “Michael” Thomas, Winter Hovis and Zachary Wright.

The ceremony caps off the 20-week alternative education program that got its start in Ocala in 2011. Phoenix Rising helps revitalize economically-challenged neighborhoods while making a positive difference in the lives of young adults through classroom and hands-on instruction that lead to employment and/or enrollment in a post-secondary education or training program. Students also have the opportunity to earn their high school diploma as well as industry certifications and weekly stipend.

The most visible feature of the program is construction of homes for deserving families in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Marion County. CareerSource CLM and its youth services provider, Eckerd Connects Workforce Development, recruit students, provide career coaches to help oversee the program, handle classroom employability training and work alongside students at the construction site.

Major funding for the program comes from a grant obtained by CareerSource CLM from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. Current year federal funding for YouthBuild is $466,821. All told, 33 homes have been built and 214 students have taken part in Phoenix Rising programs in Marion and Citrus counties.

Heaven Colon, Eckerd site manager, said that “These amazing young adults have been working diligently on obtaining industry recognized credentials such as construction plus trade certificates, customer service, hospitality and more; all while most of them working and earning their high school diplomas.”

Colon said that previous graduates will also be recognized during the December 17 ceremony.

In addition to CareerSource CLM, Eckerd and Habitat, primary partners include the City of Ocala, Marion County Board of County Commissioners, College of Central Florida (Hampton Center), Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Neighborhood Housing and Development Corporation, Florida State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) and Equal Housing Opportunity, and Silver River Mentoring & Instruction (SRMI).

Phoenix Rising YouthBuild has become a national model of what communities can build when public/private partners work together. It has earned recognition from the Florida League of Cities and the National League of Cities, Harvard’s School of Business and received Habitat for Humanity International’s highest honor, the Clarence E. Jordan Award for creativity and innovation in building homes and communities.

For more information about the Phoenix Rising YouthBuild, call 352-291-9550, ext. 2293 or 800-434-JOBS, ext. 2293.


CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion is a proud partner of the American Job Center network and member of CareerSource Florida. CareeerSource CLM is an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request in Spanish and to individuals with disabilities. Phone numbers may be reached using TTY/TDD equipment via Florida Relay at 711. For accommodations, call 800-434-5627, ext. 7878 or e-mail [email protected]. Like CareerSource CLM on Facebook, subscribe on YouTube and/or follow on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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