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The Immokalee Foundation has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the United Way of Collier County to support the foundation’s Career Development program.

High school and middle school students in The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Development program participate in workshops and career panels, internships and job shadowing to gain exposure to industries outside of agriculture. So often these students, mostly from migrant families, are simply unaware of the opportunities available to them.

The program also provides job and college readiness initiatives to ensure that by graduation, students have the academic knowledge and professional skills needed to succeed in post-secondary education or training for their chosen careers, whether through attendance at a community college, university, technical or vocational program, or an apprenticeship with a major corporation. Critical components of the Career Development workshops include ACT preparation, resume writing, networking skills and financial literacy.

The award was made based on a United Way-commissioned report indicating that 75 percent of families in Immokalee cannot afford the necessities of life; they are families living in poverty, defined as the inability to meet a survival-level budget. The report, known as the 2017 ALICE (asset limited, income constrained, employed), suggests that nonprofits can make a difference for these households by providing job training and educational assistance.

For more than 25 years, The Immokalee Foundation has been dedicated to mitigating the effects poverty for youth in the community through academic intervention, educational support and vocational training.

The success of The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Development program speaks for itself: More than 1,200 students to date have received this critical support at no cost to them, and 100 percent of the students enrolled in its programs graduate from high school. Similarly, 100 percent of those high school graduates continue on to a college or vocational post-secondary path, and nearly 90 percent of those post-secondary students have graduated or are on the path to graduation from their institutions of choice.

“We are very excited to have The Immokalee Foundation join the United Way of Collier County as a partner agency,” said United Way of Collier County President and CEO Steve Sanderson. “Their Career Development program utilizes volunteer mentors from our amazing community to provide mentoring, encouragement and motivation to help encompass strong professional development. United Way strives to support the building of pathways to success through education and life skills, which makes this partnership a perfect match.”

“Through the Career Development program, the foundation is working to close the education gap by supporting students who not only find success in their post-secondary endeavors, but those who also are beginning to improve their community by returning to Immokalee as educators, physicians and business owners,” said The Immokalee Foundation Executive Director Steven Kissinger.

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. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit

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