DEO Press Releases

Workforce Connection Receives $1.08 Million Grant for Phoenix Rising YouthBuild

Jun 28, 2013

OCALA, FLA. (June 28, 2013) – Workforce Connection has been awarded a $1.08 million YouthBuild grant to support academic and occupational skill training for at-risk youth, the U.S. Department of Labor announced today.

The grant will help fund up to four additional Phoenix Rising Youth Build projects in Ocala and is one of 68 programs across 33 states and the District of Columbia receiving nearly $72 million. WorkNet Pinellas in Clearwater, which was awarded $1.1 million, was the other Florida project to receive a grant in this round of funding.

Phoenix Rising was spearheaded in 2011 by then Ocala Police Chief Sam Williams and the Ocala Police Department and, in addition to OPD,  involves Habitat for Humanity of Marion County, the City of Ocala, Workforce Connection and its youth provider, Henkels & McCoy Youth Connection, and myriad community partners including the Church of Hope and Frank DeLuca of DeLuca Toyota.

More than 50 older youth have been served through Phoenix Rising to date and the grant will assist an additional 72 youth, said Kathleen Woodring, Workforce Connection’s chief operating officer who worked on the grant. The grant application was supported by U.S. Representatives Rich Nugent (R-Brooksville) and Ted Yoho (R-Gainesville).

Woodring noted that the more than 90 percent of program graduates have obtained employment, enrolled in postsecondary programs or enlisted in the armed services.

“The goal of the Phoenix Rising partnership is to revitalize an economically challenged area of Ocala while making a difference in the lives of area youth,” Woodring said, adding that Workforce Connection supports the program by funding employment and classroom training components.

YouthBuild is a nonresidential, community-based alternative education program that provides classroom instruction and occupational skills training to at-risk older youth.  Half of the time is spent  in classroom training that leads to a high school diploma, general education development or other state-recognized equivalency diploma. The occupational skills training component provides YouthBuild participants with industry-recognized certifications in construction or other occupations.

The remainder of Phoenix Rising’s 16-week program is spent working in partnership with Habitat for Humanity building affordable homes for deserving families in West Ocala.

Ocala’s Phoenix Rising Youth Build has become a national model of what communities can build when working together. It has earned recognition from the Florida League of Cities, National League of Cities, Harvard’s School of Business, and last month receiving Habitat for Humanity International’s highest honor, the Clarence E. Jordan Award for creativity and innovation in building homes and communities.

The fifth Phoenix Rising project is set to begin in the fall.

For more information about Workforce Connection, visit or call 800-434-5627, ext. 1234.


Workforce Connection is a member of the Employ Florida network and an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. All voice telephone numbers may be reached using TTY/TDD equipment via the Florida Relay Service at 711. For accommodations, call 800-434-5627, ext. 7878 or email at least three business days in advance.



An equal opportunity employer/program.  Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.
All voice telephone numbers on this website may be reached by persons using TTY/TDD equipment via the Florida Relay Service at 711.
You have selected a link to a website that is outside of the domain. Control of the content of this website belongs to the website's owner and not to the Department of Economic Opportunity.