Pathways Blog

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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

The Immokalee Foundation installs 2017-18 board of directors

board announcement 2017 photos

The Immokalee Foundation recently announced the installation of the organization’s 2017-18 board of directors.

Board members at large are Joyce Hagen, chair; Alison Douglas, secretary; Jim Markiewicz, treasurer; Michael Benson; Chuck Campbell; Luis Cartagena; John Costigan; Curt Culver; Don Gunther; Kevin Johnson; Mac McDonald; Barbara Morrison; Pete Negri; Don O’Neill; Louise Penta; Steven Pryor; Bob Schoonmaker; Ann Stallkamp; and Joe Zednik.

Board emeritus members are George Franks, Blake Gable, John Henry, Skip Hildebrand, Will Larson, Lisa Merritt, Peggy Redlinger and Dick Stonesifer.

“The continued dedication of The Immokalee Foundation board of directors, staff, team and supporters is an inspiration to our community,” said Steven Kissinger, executive director. “Everyone’s selflessness encourages and motivates the students of Immokalee, and our foundation family has the immense privilege of witnessing each student’s achievements.”

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.

Record number of students honored at The Immokalee Foundation’s graduation

113 TIF 2016-2017 graduates celebrate their pathway to success

The largest group of graduates in The Immokalee Foundation’s 25-year history was celebrated May 9 at a dinner at Ave Maria University. Among them were 67 high school graduates, 41 graduates of traditional post-secondary programs, and five graduates of the Heavy Equipment Mechanics program.

Students were joined by their families, friends, foundation staff and volunteers, and dignitaries including local government officials, school administrators, Ave Maria’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement Brian Couch, and Florida Rep. Byron Donalds.

The keynote speaker was Take Stock in Children President and CEO Jillian Hasner, who oversees 45 Florida affiliates, including The Immokalee Foundation’s Take Stock program. “Currently in the state, more than 10,000 mentors have served more than 2 million hours, and 28,000 high school students have graduated with scholarships,” Hasner said. “And our success doesn’t stop there. Ninety-six percent of our Take Stock students graduate high school, 96 percent of our students go on to college, and 67 percent of our students graduate from college – a rate five times higher than their peers. And we aren’t stopping until that final number reaches 96 percent.

“We are working every day to build ‘Take Stock Nation,’ an alumni network of Take Stock in Children students who will go on to be the next generation of mentors,” Hasner added.

Among that next generation is University of Florida computer engineering graduate Richard Martinez, who will begin law school at UF in the fall. His sister, Heather, has been involved in the foundation’s Career Development program. A high school graduate, Heather plans a career in biology and hopes to stay in the Immokalee area after college graduation to work in the Everglades.

High school graduate Luzceleste Herrera will study nursing at Florida Gulf Coast University. “I’ve had my mind on many different careers, but nursing definitely has my attention now,” said Herrera, a TSIC student since seventh grade. The Herrera family sat for dinner with Valerie Soto and her family; Soto plans to attend Florida SouthWestern State College to prepare for a career in law enforcement.

Along with the graduates, honorees at the ceremony included longtime mentors for The Immokalee Foundation Manny Touron, John Henry and Bobby Gonzalez.

Board member Mac McDonald offered closing remarks, during which he recalled being present at the first graduation of The Immokalee Foundation, which included 12 Take Stock in Children students. “How far we have come,” MacDonald 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 Kissinger, Valarie Soto, Luzceleste Herrera, Noemi Perez, Jillian Hasner

Steven Kissinger, Valarie Soto, Luzceleste Herrera, Noemi Perez, Jillian Hasner

Steven Kissinger, Victoria Campbell, Yulisa Ramirez-Cortes, Heather Martinez, Noemi Perez

Steven Kissinger, Victoria Campbell, Yulisa Ramirez-Cortes, Heather Martinez, Noemi Perez

Steven Kissinger, Richard Martinez, Noemi Perez

Steven Kissinger, Richard Martinez, Noemi Perez

Mac and Sonia McDonald, Lisa Merritt, Emily and John Costigan

Mac and Sonia McDonald, Lisa Merritt, Emily and John Costigan

Byron Donalds

Byron Donalds

Brian Couch, Dr. Seana Sugrue

Brian Couch, Dr. Seana Sugrue

Bobby Gonzalez, John Henry, Manny Touron, Michelle Kennedy

Bobby Gonzalez, John Henry, Manny Touron, Michelle Kennedy