Not everyone is competing on the same playing field of life. There are resources to help young Floridians with specific challenges.
Training and volunteering provide a chance to overcome past mistakes.
Jonathan Kuefner made some poor choices at the age of 19 that led to his arrest. Adjudication was withheld, meaning the judge provided a second chance for him to overcome his mistake without an official conviction. It was still difficult for Jonathan to find a job.
Jonathan, now 23, enrolled in Phoenix Rising II Youth Build, a 16-week learning service program for older youth struggling with employment barriers.
Half of Jonathan's time was spent in the classroom earning his GED and working on employability skills. The remainder of the program involved building homes through Habitat for Humanity.
When he graduated from Phoenix Rising, Jonathan enrolled at the College of Central Florida (CF) to pursue an engineering degree. While attending college, he began volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and after four months was offered a paid position there. His job with Habitat enables him to hold down a full class load, including physics, as he works toward a degree in mechanical engineering. He never thought college was an option.
"This program was great, it's what got me working here and going to school … It was a real self-confidence booster," says Jonathan. "I thought the world looked down on me because of my background. They really helped me pull myself out of the hole I was in."