ORLANDO, Fla. -- Inside Community Based Care of Central Florida, Crystal Alicea is a familiar face.

She is not a current employee, but an apprentice. She is part of the intense AmeriCorps program called Public Allies Central Florida.

  • Public Allies places folks in nonprofit, government jobs
  • Competitive program helps disadvantaged young adults
  • Application process to become apprentice now open
  • Application process for nonprofit, government partners now open

Public Allies is competitive and designed for people wanting to find a place in the world of nonprofits and government.

“It is pretty much a full time job. They work approximately 42.5 hours a week, and you really have to have those people that want to have that. They have to have that drive, and they want to be able to buy into the process,” said Danielle Abbey, a former Public Allies graduate and CBC of Central Florida communications manager.

It might not seem like a big deal, but to Alicea -- a former foster kid -- it’s everything.

“The program literally saved my life, because sitting at home for two years not in school … I had already finished, no job, and stuck in those four walls. You get depressed, and my anxiety was at an all-time high,” Alicea said.  

Coming out of foster care, she hit a low like many young adults with disadvantaged pasts.

“People tried to fight for me to try to get back on the right path the whole time,” Alicea said. “It took for me to sit down and say like, ‘I am not doing anything, and I want more for myself.’”

Organizers of the 10-month program always makes sure spots are available to people with tougher starts too. 

“We want to make sure that we are able to work with a diverse population and a population that might not be able to transition into the workforce as smoothly as everyone else,” Abbey said.  

Friday at the Orlando Science Center, the 17 apprentices will graduate the program.  

“I hope I don’t like, trip or something,” said Alicea giggling as she talks about the big day.

It is a very happy ending. But while Friday is a big day, Monday will be actually be so much better for Alicea.

 “It will be,” smiled Alicea. “I have been blessed with the chance to stay on -- they hired me full time.”

Come Monday, she will be an official Case Independent Specialist for CBC of Central Florida.  

“I am so blessed,” Alicea said.

The application process for Public Allies of Central Florida is now open for the next group of future apprentices. To learn more, click here.

The program is also looking for non-profits or government entities that the apprentices can be partnered with for the ten months. To learn more, click here.