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The Immokalee Foundation received a $10,000 grant from Florida Blue to support the foundation’s groundbreaking program, Career Pathways: Empowering Students to Succeed.

Career Pathways is an innovative, career-readiness program that introduces students to well-paying career opportunities in four high-demand employment sectors and guides them to the industry-recognized certifications that provide entry into many of these careers.

Beginning in middle school, students participate in intensive six-week rotations to learn more about the in-demand careers in Southwest Florida in the following pathways: Engineering & Construction Management, Education & Human Services, Health Care, and Business Management & Entrepreneurship. Middle school students – along with their parents – learn 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’ career exploration also includes 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.

High school juniors participate in a customized course through Hodges University, “Professionalism in the Workplace,” in addition to programming for all high school students including career panels, job shadowing, internships and more. Each high school student earns at least one professional certification to ensure they are employable upon graduation.

Career Pathways students who need assistance in achieving grade-level reading abilities have access to Achieve 3000, an online reading platform that helps boost students’ reading scores in the Florida Standards Assessments. FSA proficiency is a prerequisite for participating in Collier County Public Schools’ Career Academies, where students can earn professional certifications.

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

“Education and economic stability play critical roles in our overall health. The Career Pathways program provides a transformative opportunity for students that impacts their education, career and future well-being,” said David Pizzo, Florida Blue market president, West Florida.

“This generous grant from Florida Blue will help us continue to guide our students on the path to career success and financial independence,” said Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. “Career Pathways is a life-changing program for our students, and we are appreciative for the philanthropy that helps support our mission.”

Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield company, has been providing health insurance to residents of Florida for 75 years. Driven by its mission of helping people and communities achieve better health, the company serves more than 5 million health care members across the state. In total, Florida Blue and its affiliated companies serve 27 million people in 35 states. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., it is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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

The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways program helps students explore future opportunities

A career-based educational visit to the Shy Wolf Sanctuary inspired The Immokalee Foundation students

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