Focused on Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Immokalee

Guadalupe ChildrenImmokalee is a snapshot of poverty in modern-day America. Nearly 40 percent of its population lives below the federal poverty line and 97 percent of all school-age children are considered economically needy.

Since 1982, the Guadalupe Center has invested in the children of Immokalee with a mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education. Today, the organization serves more than 1,100 students, from six weeks old through high school in three core educational programs.

  • Early Childhood Education Program (ECE) prepares 270 preschoolers for early success in school.
  • Guadalupe After-School Program (GAP) currently provides tutoring and enrichment for 650 elementary students.
  • Tutor Corps Program serves more than 200 high school and college students.

The programs are proven to break the cycle of poverty and provide the children of Immokalee with the hope of a prosperous and productive life. Many of the students are the first in their families to speak English proficiently, graduate from high school and attend college.

Guadalupe Children2“We’ve watched many of these students grow as they progress through our early education center and after-school programs,” said Barbara Oppenheim, president of Guadalupe Center. “The center has invested as much as 18 years in these students, walking right alongside them during their high school years as part of the Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps program.

This comprehensive college-prep program prepares them for a future they once thought impossible – college.”

For the past nine years, 100 percent of all Tutor Corps graduates have been accepted to colleges and universities throughout the country, and more than 90 percent have graduated from college, in excess of national averages.

These life-changing programs would not be possible without the dedicated support of mentors, community leaders and donors who are advocates for academic success.

Three longtime Guadalupe Center supporters – Linda Yost, Sue Sherwin and Mary McCabe – are taking the lead in expanding education programs for children in Immokalee by lending their leadership as chairs of the organization’s signature fundraiser, “aqua.” Scheduled for Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, the event directly benefits the Early Childhood Education Program, Guadalupe After-school Program and Tutor Corps Program.

Aqua will offer a night of live musical entertainment, a gourmet dinner, a live auction, and the opportunity to make on-the-spot donations for college scholarships. The event begins with a cocktail reception and a meet and greet with high school students enrolled in Tutor Corps.

Currently 123 Tutor Corps students are enrolled in colleges and universities across the country.

A member of Guadalupe Center’s board of trustees and longtime philanthropist, Yost will serve for the second consecutive year as a chair of the organization’s signature fundraising event, overseeing planning and fundraising.

With more than 25 years s u p p o r t i n g nonprofits in Cleveland, Ohio and Southwest Florida, Sherwin will serve as logistics chair for aqua, overseeing event venue and menus.

McCabe is also returning for a second year as décor chair. She was the driving force responsible for last year’s dynamic backdrop elements at Guadalupe Center’s signature event “Fire & Ice: Igniting the Flame of Learning.”

“We are honored to have three talented women leading the efforts for this year’s event,” said Oppenheim. “With their guidance and the community’s support, we are hoping to expand educational programs for the children we serve in Immokalee.”

Businesses, families and individual philanthropists have the opportunity to support aqua through six levels of sponsorship ranging from $1,000 to $25,000, which includes tickets and acknowledgement in the official aqua program. Individual tickets are available for $500.

Current sponsors of aqua include London Bay Homes, Ametek Foundation, Arthrex, City Mattress, David Mayer Trust, JP Morgan and Luma Capital.

For more information about the Guadalupe Center and its signature event, visit or call 239.657.7158.

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