In Career Development, Press Center, Uncategorized

Nelson Mandela famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It creates knowledge, builds confidence, and breaks down barriers to opportunity.

Since 1991, The Immokalee Foundation has provided over 15,000 children in Immokalee with a learning environment that offers them the opportunities to flourish and make an impact in our community and beyond.

This is not done by replicating, but by innovating with new and creative approaches to educational, personal, and professional development.

But how do we measure our programs’ success and its impact on our students —a group of extraordinary young people who took the initiative to participate in our out-of-school programs and are now out there changing the world?

One way is through their often expressed gratitude over the realization of career achievement and financial independence—success they never dreamed possible. Another way is through our powerful metrics showcasing their immense achievements.

We are proud to pull back the curtain and show just how powerful education is in the lives of the students we support.

100% of our students graduate high school.

Success doesn’t depend on which side of the railroad tracks you’re born on. Instead, it shows what is possible when children are given equal opportunity. Traditionally, students from low-income areas are more than twice as likely to drop out of school as those from middle-income neighborhoods. And, according to the Florida Department of Education, the 2021-22 high school graduate rate for students from economically disadvantaged families was just 83.1%. Students who don’t graduate high school are likelier to earn less and live shorter, less fulfilling lives. Thanks to the support of The Immokalee Foundation, students avoid being victims to these potential downfalls.

100% graduate high school with an internship in their field of study.

A Chinese proverb says, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” By the time our students graduate high school, they have completed at least one paid internship with a local business partner aligned with their career aspirations. Through these internships, students gain valuable hands-on experience, develop connections within their chosen field, and increase their chances of success in their future endeavors.

Our students’ internships are far from ordinary, primarily due to our exceptional education and career-focused programs. With five years of comprehensive training, including a certification for Fundamentals of Workforce Readiness from Florida Gulf Coast University, our students are already far ahead.

93% graduate with an advanced postsecondary certificate or degree.

Postsecondary education is expensive, which can be a major barrier for anyone looking to further their knowledge and skills beyond high school.

Thankfully, the process of offsetting postsecondary costs begins early for Immokalee Foundation students. Students are assigned a Florida Prepaid Tuition scholarship as early as Middle School.

Through the Foundation’s partnership with Take Stock in Children, low-income, academically qualified students receive a Florida Prepaid Tuition scholarship with guaranteed tuition coverage for their postsecondary program of choice. These scholarships are purchased at half price.

Rising Freshman also attend a college readiness “boot camp” and receive continued counseling and mentoring through their entire postsecondary journey, ending only when they walk in the door to take their place at their first professional position.

89% of Alumni work in their field of study.

A Federal Reserve Bank of New York study found that only 27 percent of college graduates work in a field related to their major.

Several factors can influence this low number, including limited job opportunities, additional funding for education or training beyond what has been obtained, lost interest, or a lower-than-expected salary.

How does The Immokalee Foundation offset these low numbers to reach an impressive 89%? After extensive research into well-paying, in-demand careers in Southwest Florida and beyond, the Foundation created innovative programming based on these findings. Our Career Pathways Program enables students to choose a meaningful career path early. Pathways include Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management and Healthcare.

Beginning in middle school, Immokalee Foundation students—alongside their parents—begin a career exploration phase. Activities includes career panels, field trips, workshops, mentoring, career interest and aptitude assessments, a four-week summer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Academy in partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University, and for eighth graders, developing a career action plan for high school.

In high school, students immerse themselves in their chosen Career Pathway through internships, financial literacy education, certification courses, mentorships, career expos, field trips networking events, and more.

The case for out-of-school education is indisputable, and these numbers prove it. But, there is one thing that can really make them stand out. A celebration! Join us on Friday, January 19th to celebrate The Immokalee Foundation’s 32 years of advancing the POWER OF EDUCATION to transform the lives of Immokalee’s children. Chaired by Carol & Thomas Joseph and Eileen & Dr. Brian Voynick, our 2024 Charity Classic Gala will help this year’s 1,300+ Foundation students access the educational resources and skills essential for career success and financial independence. Tickets and sponsorships are available for purchase. Get yours today!

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