ARREAGA BROTHERS, TIF students set example for expanding Take Stock in Children program

by Steven Kissinger



Brothers Elijah and Alejandro Arreaga, whose parents work in agriculture in Immokalee, are on their way to becoming professionals with college degrees in sports management and engineering due to their success in The Immokalee Foundation’s Take Stock in Children scholarship program. And soon, 30 more Immokalee High School students will join the Arreaga brothers and 120 others who have pledged to
keep their grades and personal standards high as the program expands.

TIF’s board of directors recently approved opening the TSIC program to deserving students already enrolled in one of three foundation programs: Career Development, Junior Career Development or Immokalee Readers.

“Those eligible for Take Stock already meet the criteria as participants in other TIF programs, like maintaining at least a 2.5 GPA, being drug and crime free and participating in community service,” said Noemi Perez, TIF program services director. Those students in grades 8 to 11 chosen for TIF’s Take Stock in Children will be assigned mentors, with whom they will meet weekly.



“My mentor really helps me keep myself on track,” said Alejandro Arreaga, who was chosen for the program in seventh grade. “The Immokalee Foundation has given me the opportunity to see what my future can be like, with career panels and other things. I’m building my way toward a good college.”

If he maintains his pledge, Alejandro will graduate from high school and have tuition paid for two years at a college or university, with the opportunity to qualify for more scholarships – like his brother did.

Elijah Arreaga is halfway through a Bachelor of Science degree in sports management and a minor in business administration and earned two additional years of scholarships.

“Rewards have been plentiful and not just confined to the all important financial help,” Elijah said. “TIF has helped me grow as a young man.”

A committee of community leaders, Immokalee High School staff members and TIF board members are examining and scoring applications, essays and interviews from 50 qualified applicants. Among them, approximately 40 of the top-ranking were chosen for Take Stock in Children and welcomed at a meeting and contract signing in October.

Since TIF started the program in Immokalee in 2001, more than $1 million in scholarships have been awarded. At present, 66 scholarship students are enrolled in higher education and attending many colleges and universities, including Smith College, Michigan State University, The Citadel, University of Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University.

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 TIF, volunteering as a mentor or for additional information, call 239.430.9122 or visit

Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at

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