Pathways Blog

The Pathways Blog features stories and updates from TIF’s students and staff. But this is no fun unless you join the conversation. So please comment on what you find here — and be sure to visit the Pathways Blog regularly.

The Immokalee Foundation students, staff mark year’s end with fun and games

Students in The Immokalee Foundation programs recently celebrated accomplishments of the 2016-17 school year with an end-of-the-year celebration, including food, music, games and raffles at Immokalee High School.

Friendly competition played out for teams of students in a hula hoop race, shoe race and musical chairs, which 12th-grader Ernesto Blanchard and 10th-grader Shirley Vilsaint won. Tug of war pitted students against staff for one challenge and boys against girls for another.

Eighth-grader Ted Blanchard won the top raffle: a new laptop computer. Ben Lucio, who is in 12th grade, won a basket of school supplies. Bryan Reyes, 12th grade, won a movie basket. And 12th-grader Anita Cruz won the “Fun in the Sun” basket.

Students also enjoyed eating pizza and getting creative at an art center.

Supplies and prizes were donated by Immokalee Technical College, Winn-Dixie, Florida Gulf Coast University, Seminole Native Arts & Crafts, Fiesta Tents, Mr. Fix It, Mi Ranchito, Rib City, Senor Pinas, El Taquito No. 2, B-Hive Flowers & Gifts, On the Spot Printing, Roma in Havana, Creative Cuts, Styles on the Edge, Eddie’s World Class Barbershop, Lozano’s Mexican Restaurant and Culver’s.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.

 

TIF student Ted Blanchard won the top raffle, a new laptop computer

TIF student Ted Blanchard won the top raffle, a new laptop computer

TIF student Ben Lucio won a basket of school supplies

TIF student Ben Lucio won a basket of school supplies

TIF student Bryan Reyes won a movie basket

TIF student Bryan Reyes won a movie basket

TIF student Anita Cruz won the “Fun in the Sun” basket

TIF student Anita Cruz won the “Fun in the Sun” basket

TIF students Ernesto Blanchard and Shirley Vilsaint were the musical chairs winners

TIF students Ernesto Blanchard and Shirley Vilsaint were the musical chairs winners

TIF middle school students playing tug of war

TIF middle school students playing tug of war

TIF students playing hula hoop race

TIF students playing hula hoop race

TIF students playing musical chairs

TIF students playing musical chairs

Local teacher’s Key West swim raises $5,500 for The Immokalee Foundation’s scholarships

Steven Becker preparing to swim in the 2017 Florida Keys Community College Swim Around Key West in support of The Immokalee Foundation

Steven Becker preparing to swim in the 2017 Florida Keys Community College Swim Around Key West in support of The Immokalee Foundation

Once again, Immokalee High School IT Academy Director Steven Becker swam the extra mile – actually, quite a few of them during his fifth race – and raised more than $5,500 in support of The Immokalee Foundation during the annual Florida Keys Community College Swim Around Key West.

On June 10, Becker started swimming around 8:30 a.m. off Higgs Beach at Key West’s White Street Pier in open, warm water 12.5 miles around the island to raise money in support of scholarships for Immokalee students. The swim can take anywhere from four to more than eight hours. To prepare, Becker swam two miles in a pool on weekdays and 4 to 6 miles in the Gulf on weekends.

Becker exceeded impressive goals this year: he completed the swim in five hours and 18 minutes; placed third overall for solo males; placed first in his age group; and had more than 30 contributors donate to benefit the foundation’s Take Stock in Children scholarship program.

“Although the swim is over, I encourage everyone to contribute to The Immokalee Foundation,” said Becker, who recently turned 55. “Their success propels me to want to keep doing it.”

Becker has been active in several Immokalee Foundation programs, including Career Development, which helps students refine academic skills, guides them through a process of career goal-setting and increases their knowledge of career opportunities. The program also infuses innovative ideas to attract students who seek alternative education choices. Becker experienced a career change himself in 2009: After spending 25 years in corporate America, he began teaching at Immokalee High School. This summer, he will teach a two-week computer coding class to high school students as part of the foundation’s program.

He also has been a mentor for The Immokalee Foundation’s Take Stock in Children scholarship program. As a mentor, Becker enjoys the opportunity to empower students and help them find their own personal paths to success. His role is to motivate his mentee to reach their potential, and help them navigate the challenges of education and life.

Becker praises The Immokalee Foundation and especially the nonprofit’s staff and board members. “It’s inspiring to work with a team of supporters with their level of commitment and involvement,” he said.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.

Steven Becker during the 2017 Key West Swim Awards Ceremony

Steven Becker during the 2017 Key West Swim Awards Ceremony

Steven Becker with race director Lori Bosco

Steven Becker with race director Lori Bosco

The Immokalee Foundation takes 25 students on tour of five Florida colleges

The Immokalee Foundation students at University of Florida

The Immokalee Foundation students at University of Florida

Twenty-five high school juniors who participate in The Immokalee Foundation programs recently spent three days touring Florida college campuses to prepare for the next phase of their lives.

During spring break from classes at Immokalee High School, the students kept their minds on education as they were introduced to the University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, University of North Florida, Florida State University and the University of Florida.

An annual event for qualifying high school juniors, the tour allowed students to learn about the schools’ academic offerings and specialties, scholarships offered, where to go for help – such as tutoring contacts, writing centers and research – what clubs and organizations are available, the best spots to eat and socialize, and where the fitness facilities are located.

At several schools, post-secondary students from The Immokalee Foundation served as tour guides, advising the high school students about what they should be doing to get into the college and what it’s like to be a student at that school. It was an empowering experience for the younger students to see their older counterparts leading the way.

“Visiting all those campuses was an experience like no other,” said Yazmin Ruiz. “They were all incredible, just as the tour guides were. It gave us future college applicants the college experience and made us aware of the opportunities and requirements each school had to offer.”

Touring five campuses also helped students realize that their futures include many possibilities.

“The tour gave me insight on what college is like and the atmosphere,” said Anissa Avalos. “They were all unique in different ways.”

“You have to see which school has the best opportunities and majors for the career you want to pursue,” said Yuridia Zaragoza. “Each college was different because of its diversity. Overall it was a great experience, and I am very grateful to have been able to do this because it’s not every day you are given a chance to visit these great colleges.”

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.

 

The Immokalee Foundation students at University of South Florida

The Immokalee Foundation students at University of South Florida

The Immokalee Foundation students at Florida State University

The Immokalee Foundation students at Florida State University

The Immokalee Foundation earns fifth consecutive Take Stock in Children’s Gold Level of Excellence Award

Steven Kissinger, Valerie Soto, Luzceleste Herrera, Noemi Perez and Jillian Hasner at a recent Immokalee Foundation graduation

Steven Kissinger, Valerie Soto, Luzceleste Herrera, Noemi Perez and Jillian Hasner at a recent Immokalee Foundation graduation

The Immokalee Foundation has earned Take Stock in Children’s Gold Level of Excellence Award for the fifth consecutive year.

“The Immokalee Foundation exceeded target in 10 performance categories,” said Jillian Hasner, Take Stock in Children president and CEO. “We applaud the hardworking mentors, staff and supporters on another year of phenomenal service for the students of Immokalee and the community.”

TSIC’s Gold Level of Excellence Award evaluates performance on each of the balanced scorecard indicators, including student recruitment, mentor pairing, timely advocacy, EDGAR self-certification, two-year action plan, student growth and increased GPA. The Balanced Scorecard provides a uniform way for the state office and local program affiliates to assess performance through the same lens, and to manage performance through action and improvement plans. Key Performance Indicators are used to calculate performance funding, and results are reported as exceeds target, meets target or below target.

“This exemplary accomplishment is attributed to our entire team and students,” said Steven Kissinger, The Immokalee Foundation executive director. “Our areas of excellence included college success coaching and mentor session collection.”

Take Stock in Children Inc., a nonprofit organization established in 1995, is transforming Florida one student at a time. Working in every county throughout Florida, TSIC’s mission is to escape the cycle of poverty for low-income, academically qualified students through education. They offer college scholarships to students, provide caring volunteer mentors and instill hope for a better life. TSIC’s comprehensive services begin in middle school, continue through high school and include students’ transition into college.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.

 

36 Immokalee students inducted into The Immokalee Foundation’s Take Stock in Children program

36 Immokalee students inducted into The Immokalee Foundation’s Take Stock in Children program

Miracle baseball game is a hit with The Immokalee Foundation students

The Immokalee Foundation group at Fort Myers Miracle baseball game sponsored by MidwestOne Bank

The Immokalee Foundation group at Fort Myers Miracle baseball game sponsored by MidwestOne Bank

Thirty-two students in The Immokalee Foundation’s programs recently enjoyed a Fort Myers Miracle minor league baseball game at an outing sponsored by MidWestOne Bank’s Fort Myers and Naples branches.

Before the April 28 game, the students enjoyed a traditional ballpark dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and popcorn. Although the Miracle lost to the Dunedin Blue Jays 4-8, the post-game fireworks display was a highlight for everyone.

“I’ve never seen fireworks up so close,” said Rosalinda Gregorio-Matias, a 15-year-old tutor in the Immokalee Readers program who journeyed to Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers with classmates, chaperones and MidWestOne employees.

The annual visit to a Miracle game with The Immokalee Foundation students began three years ago with MidWestOne’s predecessor, Central Bank, which hailed from Minnesota, home of the Miracle’s Major League Baseball affiliate, the Twins. MidWestOne continued the tradition after its purchase of Central Bank in April 2016.

MidWestOne Regional Retail Manager Ana Maria Seneca coordinated the trip. “It’s a blast – I love watching the kids get excited, enjoying the game and having a good time,” Seneca said. “It also gives the employees a chance to meet the kids and see some of the organizations we support. We’re a community bank, and we try to give back to Southwest Florida as much as we can.”

Often, the outing gives The Immokalee Foundation students their first professional baseball game experience, plus some well-deserved down time with their friends. It is one way the foundation and its community partners help Immokalee students see beyond the community in which they live.

Gregorio-Matias participated in The Immokalee Foundation’s Junior Career Development program when she was in eighth grade. Until then, she thought little about life beyond high school. “At first, I wasn’t really interested in going to college,” she said. “I never gave it a second thought. I just wanted to get my high school diploma. But attending meetings and learning about people’s careers through The Immokalee Foundation got me interested in going to college.”

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.

Cenaida Herrera, Leslie Escalante, Elmer Santiago

Cenaida Herrera, Leslie Escalante, Elmer Santiago

Rosalinda Gregorio-Matias, Yesica Juares, Esmeralda Lorenzo, Diana Lito, Carol Galvan Leon, Griselda Martinez, Alberto Bastida

Rosalinda Gregorio-Matias, Yesica Juares, Esmeralda Lorenzo, Diana Lito, Carol Galvan Leon, Griselda Martinez, Alberto Bastida