YouthBuild Will Start in Orange County

Valencia College has received a 3-year, $1.5 million U.S. Department of Labor grant to expand its Osceola County YouthBuild program to Orange County. YouthBuild provides education and job training to youth ages 16-24 who left high school without a diploma.

Valencia launched its first YouthBuild classes in 2017 at the college’s Osceola Campus, where more than 92 percent of the students enrolled have earned a diploma and 75% are employed or continuing their education.

“We are very excited to build on the success of the YouthBuild program in Osceola County to help young people near downtown Orlando,” said Bridget Valle, director of Youthbuild. “Beyond helping students achieve a high school diploma, the program’s mission is to help students find well-paying full-time jobs. With the credentials they earn in the program, they can enter the workforce making above minimum wage.”

YouthBuild students split their time between studying for the GED test and doing hands-on training in construction skills, such as carpentry and project management. In addition to earning their GEDs, they also earn industry certifications in those skill areas, making them marketable to future employers. Completing the program can also lead to advanced skills training and articulated credits toward a Valencia College associate degree program.

During the construction classes, students work on projects – such as bookshelves, tables and chairs — that will be donated to local non-profits. The program also partners with Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando and Osceola County, where students work on new home construction or renovations for low-income individuals and families. The program will also offer students a 12-week paid internship with Habitat and, upon completion of the program, an additional 12-week paid work experience through CareerSource Central Florida.

The new YouthBuild program will be offered at the Valencia College Heart of Florida United Way Center for Accelerated Training on W.D. Judge Drive and the college’s West Campus on Kirkman Road. CareerSource Central Florida, Orange County Public Schools Career and Technical Education, and Habitat collaborated with Valencia on the program’s design and will support student success through GED instruction, basic assessment and referral services, and employer connections and job placement.

Interested persons can apply starting in September by attending an orientation session. Information on upcoming orientation sessions can be found at

Classes will begin in the fall.

To be eligible, students must be between the ages of 16 and 24, meet income guidelines, need a high school diploma or GED, and be legally authorized to work in the United States. YouthBuild participants must also live in one of the following zip codes in the Orlando area: 32808 or 32811. For more information, please contact Valencia College Continuing Education Student Services at 407-582-6688.