When we think of literacy, it’s usually in the form of reading and writing. The ability to properly communicate through the written word is critical for the students we support. Still, we recognize the need to expand on literacy’s conventional meaning for them to thrive in the modern world.
Taking a multiliteracy approach to our students’ learning is the key to setting them up for success and adapting to an increasingly changing workforce.
Here are four types of literacy students learn on their educational journey with The Immokalee Foundation:
Many of our students come from families where English is not their native language and rely on the literacy support we provide beyond the traditional classroom. With our help, students are more likely to succeed academically and ultimately experience better employment opportunities and higher incomes.
Textual literacy support begins with our Immokalee Readers program, where elementary students engage in activities to help build rich language skills, including vocabulary, self-expression, and comprehension. It lays the foundation for their educational progress throughout their childhood. Certified teachers, supported by trained high school-aged Immokalee Foundation student tutors, work with small groups of students.
An impressive 97% of the Immokalee Readers students showed growth in their reading scores last year!
Immokalee Readers students also receive hands-on support from generous community groups who believe in our mission. For example, Women of Trinity, a branch of the National Episcopal Church Women, visited our programs office last school year and stuffed backpacks with much-needed school supplies.
When students enter our program in middle school, 50-60% are not reading at grade level. By the end of their 10th-grade year, 91% are reading at grade level according to Achieve 3000 (literacy learning platform) data.
This significant increase solidifies a strong literacy foundation for their future.
This invaluable life skill gives our students a foundation for making sound financial decisions and helps them become financially secure later in life. Thanks to the generosity and collaborations with local banks and financial institutions, our students receive financial training as early as middle school and continue through postsecondary education.
Last school year, BMO Bank visited The Immokalee Foundation and taught our middle school students about the importance of budgeting. Suncoast Credit Union provided our high school students with valuable information on savings and credit card debt. Truist Bank helped build debt awareness for our postsecondary students and taught them how to recognize predatory lending practices.
Additional financial contributions from Bank of America, First Horizon, KeyBank, Suncoast Credit Union, and Truist Bank have helped elevate the quality of financial literacy programming available to our students.
As the role of technology continues to grow in the workplace, the importance of learning digital literacy skills is becoming increasingly apparent.
Thanks to a recent collaboration with Microsoft, FGCU, and the Collier County Industrial Development Authority, 157 Immokalee Foundation middle school students will enter a two-year pilot program this year to bridge the gap between youth education and digital skills needed for success in the modern workforce. This program is known as TechSpark Immokalee and is the first of its kind in Florida.
Students from each grade will attend the four-week digital literacy program taught by a Microsoft TechSpark Fellow from FGCU. Classes will be held at Immokalee Middle and Immokalee Community School and will follow a curriculum based on building digital skills that impact future jobs.
This includes data processing, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, and generative artificial intelligence like ChatGPT. The construction and engineering industry, whose workers are at considerable risk of being displaced by future technology, will serve as a pilot project for building these skills.
Workplace literacy lies at the heart of our programming and is essential in managing the demands of our students’ chosen careers.
In middle school, students—alongside their parents—begin their career exploration phase. They are exposed to a broad range of careers that fall under the Foundation’s four Career Pathways: Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Engineering & Construction Management, Education & Human Services, and Healthcare.
By the time they complete eighth grade, students have been exposed to career panels, field trips, workshops, mentoring, career interest and aptitude assessments, and a four-week summer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Academy in partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University. They also develop a career action plan and choose which of the four Career Pathways they would like to pursue in high school.
High school students immerse themselves in their chosen fields through highly specialized programming, including paid internships, industry-recognized certification courses, career expos, and networking events.
The results speak for themselves:
- 100% graduate from high school
- 100% have a postsecondary plan for a professional career
- 93% graduate with an advanced postsecondary certificate or degree
- 89% of Alumni currently work in their field of study, surpassing the national average