The Immokalee Foundation celebrated the sale of its first “Learning Lab” home in December. The home, which was constructed as part of The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways Learning Lab, is part of a project that will result in an 18-home new-construction subdivision in the heart of Immokalee.
Created through a collaboration between The Immokalee Foundation, BCB Homes, Collier Enterprises, Collier County Public Schools and Immokalee Technical College (iTECH), the Career Pathways Learning Lab addresses the critical need for hands-on, experiential learning in the construction industry
The Immokalee Foundation’s innovative Career Pathways Program provides opportunities and training for high-demand professional careers in a variety of industries throughout Southwest Florida.
The pathways include Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management, and Healthcare.
As part of the Engineering & Construction Management curriculum, students train alongside construction professionals from BCB Homes and their highly skilled network of subcontractors, working together to construct a subdivision of new homes from the ground up. The project serves as a model that will help address the construction industry’s worker shortage both locally and nationally while setting Foundation students up to become construction leaders, preparing them for roles in management and supervisory roles.
“The Learning Lab showcases the Foundation’s power to transform our community and our students’ lives,” said Noemi Y. Perez, President and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. “The three models are even named Esperanza (Hope), Inspiración (Inspiration), and Sueños (Dreams)—more evidence of our goal to be a source of hope and inspiration for students pursuing their dreams.”
The inaugural home stands as a beacon of hope and a testament that The Foundation’s programs are creating new pathways to success.
“This first Learning Lab home represents the power of collaboration and the transformative potential of our Career Pathways Program,” said Walt Buchholtz, Operations Director for The Immokalee Foundation who is overseeing the project. “Alongside professionals from BCB Homes, our students were able to turn an empty lot into a completed home. Our Career Pathways Program helps inspire confidence and career readiness in these students so they are ready to become leaders once they graduate.”
The first home, which broke ground in October of 2020, was sold to Francia Hyacinthe and her husband, Schiller Severe. The couple closed on their new home in mid-December. Hyacinthe graduated from Immokalee High School, went onto become a nurse and has returned to Immokalee, now living on Foundation Way with her husband and two children.
“I bought this home because it was built by the hands of Immokalee’s youth,” said Francia Hyacinthe. “These kids are having a unique experience. They learn something that they can take with them and build a career—build a future—and come back and teach others. That’s what I did. It’s good to come back and teach people from Immokalee. Many people here do the same thing day after day, but when you see someone go out and make it, you have hope. Your mind is bigger than you can imagine.
All the homes completed as part of the Learning Lab will be sold at market value to help support the unprecedented program. The project also provides middle-income families with new construction real estate options that are not available anywhere else in Immokalee. The sale of the first home is a crucial milestone for the project which has been in the works since 2020. The sale also serves as an experiential learning opportunity for the Foundation’s Business Management & Entrepreneurship students who are able to use the project to learn about land development, home construction, marketing and sales.
The Immokalee Foundation celebrated the milestone sale as well as the impact that their Career Pathways Program has on the Foundation’s students at a private event hosted at the Learning Lab in January.
The project is slated for completion in 2026 and aims to serve as a model for other inventive programs that help provide training in in-demand fields while empowering students from underserved communities. The Career Pathways Learning Lab will result in a 18 1,680+ square feet single-family homes with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car built by Immokalee for Immokalee.
For more than 30 years, The Immokalee Foundation has maintained a 100% focus on education and professional development for students in Immokalee—from kindergarten to postsecondary education. Through support, mentoring, tutoring, and life skills development, The Immokalee Foundation provides pathways to success for those who may not otherwise have had the opportunity to succeed. For additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit immokaleefoundation.org.