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The Naples Children & Education Foundation recently awarded The Immokalee Foundation $558,000 in grant funding, which will be used to support the educational and career programming the foundation offers to elementary, middle school, and high school students.

Elementary students participate in Immokalee Readers, which works to build literacy skills for those reading below grade level at all five elementary schools in Immokalee, a charter school and a local nonprofit, by providing them with trained, paid high school-aged tutors for after-school sessions supervised by professional certified teachers. The younger students get help improving vital literacy and reading skills necessary to be successful throughout their educational career, while the high schoolers gain work, leadership and mentoring experience.

Importantly, the foundation’s innovative program, Career Pathways: Empowering Students to Succeed, begins with middle school students who participate in intensive six-week rotations to learn more about the careers in demand in Southwest Florida: Engineering & Construction Management, Education & Human Services, Health Care, and Business Management & Entrepreneurship. Middle school students learn – along with their parents – the types of professions available in each pathway, average salaries, and whether the career requires professional certifications and credentials or a two- or four-year college degree.

Middle school students participate in a robust schedule of programming to learn more about available career choices; they also may join a summer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy at Florida Gulf Coast University. In eighth grade, students work with career counselors to develop a career plan for high school based on their chosen Career Pathway.

Students in high school participate in career panels, job shadowing, internships, and more – and earn at least one professional certification – to ensure they are employable upon graduation. High school juniors participate in a course through Hodges University, “Professionalism in the Workplace.”

Foundation students earn a 100 percent high school graduation rate and continue on to post-secondary certification programs or college, where 91 percent complete their programs.

“The foundation’s continuum beginning in elementary school through post-graduate studies, along with our focus on creating career-oriented pathways, helps to ensure that the youth of Immokalee achieve rewarding careers and financial independence,” said Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. “Our work wouldn’t be possible without the extremely generous support of the Naples Children & Education Foundation, which recognizes the importance of our educational programming in strengthening the greater Collier County community.”

The Naples Children & Education Foundation grant comes from donations made during the most recent Naples Winter Wine Festival event. “The 2020 Naples Winter Wine Festival was a record-breaking event with our largest attendance ever and generating the highest proceeds in our 20-year history,” said Joe Masterson, 2020 NCEF grant committee chair. “We are proud that every dollar raised under the tent of our live auction goes right back into the community, improving the lives of the county’s most vulnerable children.”

NCEF, the founding organization of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, is improving the educational, emotional and health outcomes of underprivileged and at-risk children. Through its annual grants and strategic initiatives, NCEF has impacted over 45 of the most effective nonprofits in the community, providing over 275,000 children with the services and resources they need to excel. NCEF’s unique approach, which emphasizes collaboration between organizations and bridges public and private resources, has become a blueprint for how to transform a community, one issue at a time. For additional information, visit

NCEF selects Blueprint Partners that exemplify the highest levels of efficacy and accountability. The Immokalee Foundation provides leadership for NCEF’s Out-of-School Time Initiative, a groundbreaking effort that brings nonprofits together to achieve a greater collective impact. Blueprint Partners collaborate to optimize funding and develop innovative programs to close gaps in education during after-school, holiday and summertime hours. NCEF Blueprint Partners in the Initiative also include Boys & Girls Club of Collier County, Collier County Public Schools, Guadalupe Center, Redlands Christian Migrant Association, and Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board.

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


An Immokalee Reader selects a Joan Sweeney title to read with her Immokalee Foundation tutor

Students participate in The Immokalee Foundation’s Middle School Summer STEM Academy at FGCU

The Immokalee Foundation students in the Health Care pathway practice CPR

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