In Career Development

It’s the last day of school. The sweet sound of the final bell fills the hallways, and with it, cheers of celebration marking the long-anticipated start of summer break. For many students, this is a time to relax, vacation with families, and enjoy time with friends.

While the well-deserved tradition of summer break can benefit the mental and emotional well-being of students—and any stakeholders involved in the day-to-day school operations—it’s essential to address concerns about students potentially losing ground academically. This issue is especially significant for low-income students.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, students who fall behind over the summer are less likely to graduate from high school or go on to college. The Colorado Department of Education adds, “Summer learning loss accounts for two-thirds of the 9th-grade achievement gap in reading between students from low-income households and their higher-income peers.”

This regression of academics over the summer months has  been infamously coined with the term “summer slide.” The good news is, The Immokalee Foundation is empowering our students to continue their journey towards success this summer by providing them with highly personalized learning opportunities through Career Pathways camps.

 “Our summer learning programs serve as a fun and highly engaging way to transition students from one school year to the next,” says Noemi Perez, President and CEO at The Immokalee Foundation. “Thanks to the generous support of our donors as well as our many community and business partnerships, our students are keeping their skills sharp and engaging in learning opportunities at no cost to them. Yet another example of the power of education beyond a traditional classroom.”

Here are six ways the Immokalee Foundation is applying the brakes on Summer Slide. 

Middle School STEM Camp

Middle school students explore virtual reality machine welding at STEM camp.

The Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Camp is held in partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), where 50 of our middle school students are engaging in activities focused on improving problem-solving abilities, critical thinking capabilities, strengthening communication skills and career experiential learning.

This includes coding, environmental science, construction management, aquatic systems, and Achieve 3000—an online literacy reading program. 

Healthcare Pathway Camp

Healthcare Pathway intern is shown how to connect emergency life-saving equipment at the Physicians Regional Healthcare System ER.

Thanks to Physicians Regional Healthcare System, who once again funded 100% of the costs of our Healthcare Camp, 36 of our Healthcare Pathway students (ages 13-16) are experiencing an immersive experience that prepares them for successful careers in the healthcare field. These students are busy at FGCU learning about genetic blood testing, diagnostics imagery, and taking a deep dive into the world of anatomy.

In addition, Physicians Regional is hosting 16 interns at their Pine Ridge and Collier Boulevard hospitals, where participating students can shadow health care professionals in various specialties while participating in medical office-support activities. 

Education & Human Services Pathway Camp

Health & Human Services Pathway students take a deep dive into forensics and criminal justice by learning how to dust and pull finger prints for crime scene investigation.

Twelve of our Education & Human Services Pathway students are getting a leg up in journalism, social services, criminal justice and forensics, and early childhood education at an exciting four-week camp at FGCU.

As a bonus, students are being introduced to FGCU’s Roots of Compassion and Kindness (ROCK) initiative. True to its name, ROCK teaches students basic principles of compassion and spreading goodwill that leads to positive behavioral outcomes.

Business Management & Entrepreneurship Pathway Camp

Business Management & Entrepreneurship Pathway student, Angel A. presents his business idea to the judges during last year’s Shark Tank-themed “What’s Your Pitch?”

Watch out Shark Tank—18 of our Business Management & Entrepreneurship Pathway students made their move!

Over the course of four weeks, these highly creative students worked with FGCU faculty at the university’s Institute for Entrepreneurship to identify a problem or opportunity, create an innovative solution, and develop a sustainable business model for their concept.

On July 7th, the students pitched their creative business start-up ideas—much like the popular TV show Shark Tank—in front of a panel of judges composed of local business leaders and entrepreneurs. The judges crowned a winner that successfully presented a well-rounded business model and marketing plan, with the winning team receiving a cash prize.

This camp provides the perfect opportunity for these students to learn about an entrepreneurial mindset and how to critically examine problems to develop innovative solutions—a hands-on experience providing tangible, real-world business experience.

Engineering & Construction Management Camp

Engineering & Construction Pathway students are being introduced to the basic “tools of the trade” at Immokalee Technical College

This five-week camp is held in partnership with Immokalee Technical College where 15 of our Engineering & Construction Management Pathway students are working on earning two industry-recognized credentials:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration Training Certificate (OSHA-10)—Federal regulatory safety training required before working at a construction site.
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Core Certificate— Pre-requisite training required for all other construction skill training that covers basic topics such as safety, communication skills and construction math.

Plus, for the first time, we added a one-week construction management course at FGCU for our 10th-grade Engineering & Construction Management Pathway students.


High school students are provided internships in their field of interest this summer that include physical therapy, dentistry, healthcare, veterinary medicine, entrepreneurship, legal counseling, public service and more.

Internships are an ideal way to expose students to the inner workings of their chosen industry. This summer, 47 of our high school students are provided transportation to a local business four or five days a week for a paid internship, enabling students to gain crucial hands-on experience while learning from employers, mentors, and industry experts.

Before starting the internship, each student earned a Fundamentals of Workforce Readiness Digital Badge certification from FGCU that provides them with basic principles to help them excel in the workplace.

Thank you to our summer educational partners, FGCU and Immokalee Technical College. We also thank our internship hosts: Physician’s Regional Healthcare System, Healthcare Network, Results Care, Humane Society of Naples, Stacey Glenn at John R. Woods Real Estate, JR Evans Engineering, Arthrex, Career Pathways Learning Lab, The Naples Players, Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Guadalupe Center and Legal Aid.

Your support of our summer learning programs helps our students continue their pathway to success year-round. Please support us today by donating, or if you are a business  that would like to host a student internship please contact us.

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