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

OCALA, Fla. (Nov. 15, 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 eighth YouthBuild project.

Graduation takes place December 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Howard Academy Community Center, 306 NW 7th Ave., in Ocala.

Recruiting is also under way for the next class slated to begin in late January or early February.

The graduation caps off the 20-week alternative education program that makes a positive difference in the lives of young adults ages 18-24 and helps revitalize economically challenged areas of the community.

The following graduates will be recognized: Tangla Boyd, Anthony Brooks, Savannah Jeffery, Zoie Liopiros, Keishly D. Melendez Reyes, Joshua Rodgers, Adeline Torres, Dante Thompson, Jackelyn Torres and Tristan Todd.

Through the program, which got its start here in 2011, students receive hands-on and classroom training designed to develop workforce skills that lead to employment or a post-secondary education program. Students may also earn their high school diplomas and industry certifications as well as receive weekly participation payments.

A key component of the program involves construction of Habitat for Humanity homes for deserving families in Marion County.

Brian Conard, Eckerd’s area youth services program manager, said he is “very proud of the accomplishments of our young adults.”

“They are all now a better version of themselves, having unselfishly built a Habitat home for a deserving family, while enhancing their work habits and soft skills learned from this experience,” Conard said.

Conard noted that all graduates have earned high school diplomas through the program, received their forklift/warehouse OSHA certification and Florida Safe Staff Food Handling certificate and are on track to receive their Home Builders Institute PACT Carpentry certification following graduation as well as their National Retail Federation Customer Service and Sales credential.

To date, 21 homes have been built and 172 students have taken part in Phoenix Rising programs. Many of the projects were funded through two competitive US Department of Labor grants obtained by CareerSource CLM.

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

In addition to CareerSource CLM, Eckerd and Habitat for Humanity of Marion County, 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).

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

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 or enrolling in 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 Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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