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Young students in Immokalee are benefiting from a partnership between The Immokalee Foundation and Guadalupe Center Inc. designed to supplement the students’ school day with additional learning.

Last fall, the two nonprofits – both funded in part by the Naples Children & Education Foundation – began a combined pilot program for children in kindergarten through second grade at Village Oaks Elementary School in Immokalee.

Held four days a week, the course of study incorporating TIF’s Immokalee Readers program and the Guadalupe After-School Program includes language literacy and reading, math, science, writing and homework help.

“Jamie Scott of Great Programs Synergizing helped build out the model for us,” said Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation. “GPS is a Naples Children & Education Foundation’s Out of School Time Initiative consortium of education leaders assembled to develop responsive strategies.”

As a result, Guadalupe Center President Barbara Oppenheim and Kissinger met to join forces. “A lot of organizations don’t talk to each other about their programs specifically, but we chose to,” Kissinger said. “We found out our programs operated similarly, but at different times. In our discussions, we built in workflow and cost efficiencies and in combining our services, developed a win-win situation.”

Through this collaboration and the building in of cost efficiencies, the organizations we were able to help 160 students for longer sessions each day during a more qualified program.

“There are always challenges in the beginning of a new collaboration, but we worked through them very quickly,” said Oppenheim. “The population we reach together is broader now.” The newer program is open to the quartile of students with the lowest academic records.

“I can see progress already in our students in just this first year,” said Village Oaks Principal Angie Torres. “It’s safe to say that this is a collaboration that works well, and we are extremely appreciative.”

High school tutors enrolled in the Tutor Corps and Take Stock in Children efforts help the children at Village Oaks under the supervision of certified teachers.

“We’ve talked about expanding this model next year but wanted to make sure we had a successful beginning,” Oppenheim said. “Teachers have been saying they are seeing greater gains.”

The collaboration is proof of a commitment by both groups’ boards of trustees to identify areas of similar interest and also potential overlap in order to enhance and expand their efforts. The goal is to best serve the youth of Immokalee by reducing duplication of services and increasing the number of students served in concert with donors, supporters and volunteers.

For more than 30 years, the Guadalupe Center has been helping impoverished children and families in Immokalee. The nonprofit is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. For more information, call 239-657-7711 or visit

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. For additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit

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