In Immokalee Readers, Student Success Blog

The power of literacy is limitless.

We as humans have used this skill to develop societies, revolutionize industry, shape nations, communicate emotions, and express ourselves in unique and extraordinary ways. Literacy is the master key to a successful future.

But what about those who struggle to read and write in our vast economy—one centered on the written and spoken word? It is like being stranded in an ocean surrounded by water you cannot drink.

According to research by ThinkImpact, 66% of 4th-grade children in the U.S. cannot read proficiently, with 21% of adults in the U.S. being nonliterate as of 2023.

Literacy is more than just being able to read words on a page; it’s about taking control of your life and making decisions that affect you and the legacy you leave behind. As September is National Literacy Month, let’s ask ourselves: as a society, how do we help mitigate this systemic issue?

It all starts at the foundation of our society: our children.

At The Immokalee Foundation, we promote literacy through our Immokalee Readers Program. This proactive approach links Immokalee High School students in our Education & Human Services Pathway with certified teachers. Combined, they support elementary school children struggling to develop their literacy skills.

The program aims to help break the chains of illiteracy and propel students forward with the freedom to create their future with confidence. Last year, 802 elementary school children participated and benefited from the life-changing program.

Immokalee Foundation high school students and twin sisters Emili and Abigail are at the tip of the spear, helping to create new pathways to success for the youth of Immokalee by being tutors in the Immokalee Readers program.

For Abigail, her inspiration resulted from her experience with having a tutor in elementary school. “My tutor showed me that reading could be fun and introduced me to books by Junie B. Jones. I want to pass that on to students I tutor because it sparked my love of learning and helped me develop new homework skills and study habits.”

Now entering her fourth year as an Immokalee Readers tutor, sister Emili found that tutoring not only impacted her students but nurtured her goal to become an educator.

“Since I want to become an elementary school teacher, tutoring allows me to experience being an educator. Seeing the joy on a child’s face when they learn something new and having the confidence to tell me about their day makes me so proud.”

But it isn’t just the students who benefit; their parents see the rewards of their child’s growing confidence.

“One of my students happened to see me at the supermarket. She tugged on her parent’s hand and pointed at me,” recalled Abigail. “‘That’s my tutor! That’s my tutor,’ she exclaimed. I could feel the joy and pride in her parents’ smiles as they thanked me for helping their child. That was the moment I knew my calling. I’m meant to help people.”

Emili glowed as she described how this program had impacted her directly. “It makes my heart full, and I am so proud of my students’ success. Their increasing confidence allows them to try new books and communicate more effectively with their peers and teachers—when they realize they can do and achieve more than they ever dreamed. This is where it all begins.”

Tutors like Abigail and Emili directly impact the Immokalee Readers Program’s outstanding results. An impressive 97% of Immokalee Readers students showed growth in their reading scores last year.

“When I see a student of mine getting the confidence to read to me or their friends, I get excited because it shows that they are learning and growing,” said Abigail. “This experience will shape my future career because I will have more confidence in being a leader and speaking to my peers. My legacy is already in the children I serve.”

Please support our Immokalee Readers program by making a donation today! 

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