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With Latest Grant, CareerSource North Central Florida Infuses Local Economy with More than $31 Million to Help Employers Find, Develop and Keep Top Talent

With Latest Grant, CareerSource North Central Florida Infuses Local Economy with More than $31 Million to Help Employers Find, Develop and Keep Top Talent

CareerSource Florida recently announced the fourth of multimillion dollar federal grants, bring the total with which it has infused the local economy since 2011 to $31.5 million. The new grant will be used to fund Opportunity Quest, which will assist unemployed parents looking to upgrade their tech and entrepreneurial skills will have a new resource for training and childcare support through CareerSource North Central Florida (NCFL) later this fall.


Opportunity Quest pairs entrepreneurial skills training with technology skills training to help eligible workers become self-employed or employed. The program will also provide access to childcare support through partner agencies to allow parents to fully maximize their training time. Using the grant, CareerSource NCFL will train up to 250 custodial parents with children under the age of thirteen over the four-year life of the grant at no cost to participants. The entrepreneurial training portion of the program is modeled on previously successful training curriculums Startup Quest®, an entrepreneurial training program for unemployed individuals with college and advanced degrees, and Tech Quest, an entrepreneurial training program for youth.

Past awards supported the introduction of Healthcare Biotechnology Occupational and Technology Training (HBOTT), Startup Quest® and STEM Ready. HBOTT created 328 new jobs at more than 20 businesses while Startup Quest® trained more than 2500 individuals across nine Florida communities. STEM Ready currently has over 40 business from Alachua and Bradford counties with over 170 paid internship positions available in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-based positions.

CareerSource NCFL currently offers career pathway support in high-demand occupations through programs like STEM Ready. This grant aligns career pathway support with childcare resources to remove critical barriers to meeting the demands of the marketplace.

“We are looking forward to using this program to help busy parents in Alachua and Bradford counties create more opportunity for themselves and their families,” said CareerSource North Central Florida Executive Director Anne Favre. “This program brings together business leaders, training and education providers, and community partners who will all collaborate to give parents the support they need to focus on their training and maximize the opportunity to create a career pathway. We’re looking forward to introducing this program later this year to Alachua and Bradford county residents.”

Opportunity Quest was first introduced in 2011 as a pilot program in Gainesville. The program demonstrated that entrepreneurial training quickly improved employability skills, resulting in a significantly higher successful employment rate for participants compared to those who did not receive the training.

“CareerSource North Central Florida has had a distinguished track record of identifying key areas for growth in the community and providing effective solutions to get people back into the workforce in high-demand fields such as technology,” said Patricia Evans, 2016-2017 Chair of the Board of Directors for CareerSource North Central Florida. “I am looking forward to connecting our unemployed parents with the training and resources they need to reenter the workforce and grow their careers right here in Alachua and Bradford counties.”

“Entrepreneurship training has been proven to help build a resilient workforce,” said Don Davis, Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for CareerSource North Central Florida. “After the success of Startup Quest® across nine Florida regions and the growth of Tech Quest in Alachua and Bradford counties through our partners at Santa Fe College, we’re proud to bring back Opportunity Quest to support parents and families in their pursuit of economic independence.”

In addition to the training participants will receive through Opportunity Quest, participants will be exposed to the existing CareerSource NCFL resources including job matching services, skills assessments, and training support.

The award is one of 11 winning applications out of 127 submitted totaling $25 million as part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Strengthening Working Families Initiative. Over 20 Alachua and Bradford county businesses, education and training institutions, and community organizations provided letters of support for the grant.

“CareerSource North Central Florida and our entire network of workforce professionals are committed to ensuring Florida has a skilled and ready workforce to help businesses thrive,” said CareerSource Florida President and CEO Chris Hart IV. “Forward-thinking entrepreneurial programs such as Opportunity Quest help grow Florida’s reputation for world-class talent by equipping Floridians with new knowledge and skills to boost their productivity – whether they going to work for themselves or another business.”

Community members interested in receiving future updates on the program can receive updates by email here.

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