YouthBuild Program Awarded a Second, Three-year Grant

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses

You have read about the success of our YouthBuild program, and I am thrilled to let you know that Valencia College has been awarded a second Department of Labor YouthBuild grant of $1.1 million. This second award is great news, because we will not have a lapse in funding for the program and can continue working with young adults ages 16-24 who might otherwise have less opportunity for gaining workplace skills.

YouthBuild Project Director Michelle Sanchez says that the first three-year grant has helped 63 students, and she expects that the second grant will help the same number. The program consists of a seven-month training program, preceded by a one-week Mental Toughness Boot Camp to ensure that students who are accepted to the program will complete it. So far, all but five students have. Another several dozen potential students remain on a waiting list, gathered from presentations at local high schools, by word of mouth and through recommendations from personnel in the juvenile justice system.

As an example of how this program engages students with partners in the community, YouthBuild students from all five cohorts participated in the Home Build Project in partnership with the Osceola Council on Aging last October. Twenty-five students worked on three different work sites within poverty-stricken neighborhoods to help renovate homes for disabled veterans. The project lasted 12 weeks and allowed these youth to learn a range of general contractor skills and flourish under the direction of the experienced Council on Aging staff.

Due to the students’ hard work and willingness to learn, Osceola Council on Aging then chose six students to continue working as paid interns sponsored by CareerSource Central Florida. The students will intern for an additional 12 weeks and work one-on-one with a staff member in various departments including custodial, culinary, weatherization, apartment maintenance and construction. At the end of the internship, two students will be offered full-time, permanent employment at the Osceola Council on Aging. The other students will be recommended for work with any of the general contractors that work with the Council on Aging.

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