Participants in the Second Chances Construction Training Program are exposed to new learning opportunities regardless of personal and educational backgrounds.

By Madeline Gardner

Getting a second chance at a new beginning in life may seem rare, but through the Second Chances Training Program at Mt. Zion AME Church Riverview, it is indeed possible.

Partnering with Adonai’s Second Chances Inc. (ASCI), a nonprofit organization, this program is directed toward residents of unincorporated Hillsborough County who meet the income eligibility requirements regardless of personal history or a lack of prior experience in this field. Funding from the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides applicants with an opportunity to expand their knowledge of construction and carpentry.

“They could be taking the first step to changing their life today by simply filling out the application,” said Reverend Karen Jackson Sims, senior pastor of Mt. Zion AME Church Riverview.

This program operates on rolling admission and is now accepting its second year of students. This year, 40 candidates in total will be selected to participate. Training completion can allow individuals to work toward the goal of acquiring new skills, passing General Education Development (GED) tests and achieving certification.

Mt. Zion AME Church Riverview is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. for students to finish their computer portion of the training, which can take as little as eight to 10 weeks. Upon completion, individuals can be enrolled in the Hillsborough Community College program in construction as an optional path to furthering their education and technical training on campus. Otherwise, the program promises participants hands-on experience by securing paid on-the-job internships and apprenticeships.

“The construction industry provides significant salaries and opportunities and careers for individuals,” said Reverend Sims. “They can come out of this knowing that they have the opportunity to have a job and career that will take care of themselves and their families for the future.”

As the application process operates on a first-come, first-served basis, interested individuals should visit and submit an online application or pick up an application at Mt. Zion AME Church Riverview Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Mt. Zion is located at 5920 Robert Tolle Dr. in Riverview.

Further information on this program can be found by contacting or calling 813-337-7457.

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