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The Immokalee Foundation has received $25,000 in funding from United Way of Collier and the Keys’ Project ALICE grant program for fiscal year 2020-21 to support the foundation’s groundbreaking initiative, Career Pathways: Empowering Students to Succeed.

The United Way grants are awarded to local community impact programs that empower members classified as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed) to move from survival to sustainability.

The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways is a career-centric program that engages Immokalee students beginning in the sixth grade and guides them throughout their educational journeys. The goal: To select a professional career and earn the credentials necessary to achieve their dreams.

In the Career Pathways program, students receive career exposure and exploration opportunities through enrichment and after-school programming, career panels, summer camps, networking events, leadership development, mentorship opportunities, paid internships, and more.

“Project ALICE grant funding will help provide services and scholarships to empower students to earn industry-recognized certifications and degrees that enable them to obtain well-paying jobs after high school,” said Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. “By encouraging students to establish career and post-secondary plans at an earlier point during their middle and high school years, the Career Pathways program allows them to transition to rewarding professions in Southwest Florida.”

The need for the Career Pathways program in Immokalee is undeniable. Only 40% of adults living in Immokalee have high school educations, and 38% of Immokalee eighth-graders are at risk of dropping out prior to graduation. By contrast, The Immokalee Foundation’s students achieve a 100% high school graduation rate, and 100% continue on to post-secondary educational programs; the majority of these students are the first generation in their families to finish high school and attend college or other post-graduation programs.

Career Pathways focuses on opportunities in four primary employment opportunities in Southwest Florida: health care, education and human services, engineering and construction management, and business management and entrepreneurship. These pathways are comprised of in-demand jobs with average annual salaries ranging from $40,000 to $99,000, the majority of which can be attained with professional certifications and credentials.

“Career Pathways provides the youth of Immokalee with hands-on exposure to the full scope of available professional occupations in Southwest Florida,” said Perez. “We are grateful for this critical support from United Way of Collier and the Keys to help in our work changing the lives of these students.”

United Way of Collier and the Keys improves lives and strengthens communities so all individuals and families in Collier and the Keys can thrive. UWCK will advocate for those in our community struggling to make ends meet and empower these neighbors in need by providing them the tools needed to gain stability. For more information, visit

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, becoming a mentor, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit


Leslie Escalante and Brittany Ruiz during an Immokalee Foundation Career Panel with a local veterinarian

Julio Estrella supports his growing family with a high-wage job achieved after he graduated from The Immokalee Foundation’s Heavy Equipment Service Technician program

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