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Program Contact

Judy Williams
YouthBuild Project Specialist

Contact: Suzanne A. Sparling, APR, CPRC
Office:    321-433-7022 
Cell:         321-537-6986

EFSC Accepting Applications for Space Coast YouthBuild

Free program allows at-risk youth to earn GED while getting paid

August 4, 2014 - Eastern Florida State College is again accepting students for its free Space Coast YouthBuild program that helps young people who have left high school without a diploma earn their GED while preparing them for college and a career.

The federally-funded program provides youth between the ages of 16-24 an opportunity to earn their diploma while getting paid, with teachers and staff specially trained to mentor students and help them develop life-skills and leadership ability.

Students divide their time between attending class at Eastern Florida’s Cocoa campus and working for Habitat for Humanity. On campus, they prepare for the GED exam and college readiness under the guidance of their teachers. Classes are small, allowing one-on-one attention to students.

On the Habitat for Humanity worksite, students build homes for local families in need while learning skills such as being on time, working well with others, taking direction and showing initiative. Students receive close supervision and training in construction skills from a Habitat for Humanity site supervisor.

Students earn at least minimum wage for a maximum of 15 hours a week for their construction efforts. They can also earn reward incentives such as gift cards for reaching key milestones. After construction is complete, students can participate in the home dedication ceremony in which the keys to the home they built are presented to the new homeowner.

Since 1994, more than 120,000 YouthBuild students have produced more than 22,000 units of affordable, increasingly green housing in rural and urban communities across the nation.

"I loved working for Habitat for Humanity,” said Brent Thompson, 18. “It was awesome to start with an empty slab of concrete, and see a house come together in two to three months. I learned how to do all kinds of construction work.”

Locally, YouthBuild students are selected through a process that includes interviews and participation in a three-week unpaid orientation that assesses their readiness to participate.

“We’re looking for young people who want to make a positive change in their lives and are committed to making this change,” said program director Cosanne Mistretta.

YouthBuild staff continue to guide their students after they graduate from the program, helping them apply for college or vocational programs, financial aid and look for employment.

After earning his GED, Thompson enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, pursuing an education in computer science.

“I probably would not have gone to college were it not for YouthBuild," said Thompson. "YouthBuild even paid for my books."

The next enrollment cycle begins in early September. Registration is required and is open until August 18, 2014 for this cycle. Applications also are accepted year-round.

For more information, visit

To apply to the program, or if you have questions, call Judy Williams, YouthBuild Project Specialist, at 321-433-7631.