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


Recruiting now under way for next project, slated to begin in July

OCALA, Fla. (May 21, 2018) – Phoenix Rising YouthBuild students will trade hardhats for mortar boards and hammers for diplomas next month as they celebrate completion of Marion County’s seventh YouthBuild project.

Graduation takes place June 7 at 11 a.m. at Howard Academy Community Center, 306 NW 7th Ave., in Ocala.

Recruiting is also under way for the next project slated to begin in mid-July.

Phoenix Rising YouthBuild, which got its start in Ocala in 2011, is an alternative education program that seeks to revitalize economically-challenged areas of Ocala, Silver Springs Shores, Inverness and Crystal River while making a positive difference in the lives of young adults, age 18-24.

Through the program, students receive hands-on and classroom training designed to develop workforce skills that lead to employment or a post-secondary education program. A key component of the program involves construction of Habitat for Humanity homes for deserving families in Marion and Citrus counties. Additionally, participants may earn their high school diploma as well as industry-recognized certifications while receiving weekly participation payments.

“We are so excited that all 13 members of this YouthBuild cohort will graduate from the program and all are now high school graduates,” said Kimberly Grey, program manager. Additionally, all have passed their forklift/warehouse OSHA certification and have earned their Florida Safe Staff Food Handling certificate.

Grey said that all 13 are also on track to receive their Home Builders Institute PACT Carpentry certification following graduation. Additionally, 12 members of the class have also earned their National Retail Federation Customer Service and Sales credential.

Major funding for the Marion County YouthBuilds comes from an $806,000 grant from the US Department of Labor obtained by CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion. The grant covers four Phoenix Rising YouthBuild projects for 48 students.

CareerSource CLM and its youth services provider, Eckerd Connects Workforce Development, recruit program participants, assign career coaches to help oversee the program and provide classroom employability training.

In addition to CareerSource CLM, Eckerd Connects Workforce Development and Habitat for Humanity of Marion County, primary partners include Marion County Board of County Commissioners, City of Ocala, 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).

The following graduates will be recognized: Matthew Brown; Kurt Bunnell, Lateria Cohen, Leon Corrica, Gavon Eaves, Austin Edwards, Scott Gray, De’Vante Johnson, Vencent Mathews, Vanessa Mingo, Brandon Shippee, Zachariah Slaughter and Denver Sutter.

Brian Conard, Eckerd’s area youth services program manager, said “words cannot express how proud we are of these young people.”

Typically, each cohort consists of 12 students, but Conard said when it came down to making the final selection for the class, there were 13 outstanding candidates.

“You could call this class ‘Lucky 13,’ because we were sure lucky to find such dedicated, hardworking young adults,” Conard said. The Juniper Road home they helped build is the first Phoenix Rising YouthBuild in Marion County in three years, and the first outside West Marion.

The next YouthBuild will be constructed on Northwest 14th Avenue near Howard Middle School, less than a mile from CF’s Hampton Center where classroom instruction takes place.

To be eligible for the program, Conard said participants must be United States citizens age 18 to 24, in need of a high school diploma or GED and willing to work.

Orientation for the next Phoenix Rising YouthBuild is scheduled for June 28 from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2-4 p.m. at the CareerSource CLM career center, 2703 NE 14th St., in Ocala. Class selection will be made July 10 with the project tentatively set to begin on July 16.

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 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 program, 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 TwitterGoogle+ and LinkedIn.

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