Giving Tuesday an opportunity to provide education and hope for Immokalee students

By Dawn Montecalvo, President of Guadalupe Center

Naples is known for its beautiful beaches, brilliant sunshine, distinguished restaurants and luxury shopping.

Although most Neapolitans hail from different parts of the country, we share an appreciation for the finer things in life and are quick to count our blessings. The philanthropic culture here in Naples is second to none.

In the coming weeks, Naples area nonprofits will outline compelling cases for support, focusing on holiday and year-end giving campaigns as we approach Giving Tuesday on December 3rd. Those donations allow charities to continue their amazing work that improves our community as a whole.

Just 40 miles from the bright lights of Fifth Avenue South is the community of Immokalee, where an astounding 97 percent of students are classified as economically needy. Nearly two-thirds of Immokalee adults do not have high school diplomas, and fewer than 1 in 20 adults have earned bachelor’s degrees.

For the children of Immokalee, education is their way out of poverty, and Guadalupe Center is their vehicle.

The Center offers the only NAEYC-accredited Early Childhood Education Program in Collier County, an after-school tutoring, a summer enrichment program for students K-2, and a college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. Combined, the three core programs serve more than 1,300 students annually.

Guadalupe Center’s results are outstanding. More than 95 percent of our pre-K graduates enter school having met or exceeded Florida’s kindergarten readiness standards and 100 percent of students in the after-school program show academic gains in reading and math.

An astounding 100 percent of Tutor Corps seniors graduate high school and are accepted into college, a statistic that dates back 15 years. Most importantly, 92 percent of our Tutor Corps students graduate from college, compared to the national average for minority students of less than 20 percent.

Guadalupe Center is transforming lives. Our Tutor Corps alumni are now gainfully employed as educators, health care specialists, engineers, public service workers and business leaders. Several have been accepted into prestigious medical and graduate schools.

Donors can feel confident that their gifts are making a difference.

Charity Navigator, which evaluates an organization’s financial strength, accountability and transparency annually, has awarded Guadalupe Center three consecutive 4-star ratings, the highest level of achievement. Our audited financial reports and IRS Form 990s from the past five years are posted online for public review.

Nearly three-fourths of Guadalupe Center’s annual budget derives from philanthropic support and grants. We are eternally grateful for the donors and partners that support us in our mission.

With Giving Tuesday on the horizon, here are four ways you can join us:

  • Make a gift: Visit Guadalupe to contribute any amount through a secure digital form. We are happy to help you with planned giving and endowed scholarship opportunities.
  • Donate in-kind: Guadalupe Resale Shop accepts donations of like-new furniture, home décor, kitchenware, artwork, lamps, linens, DVDs and CDs, books and all types of women’s and men’s clothing, including accessories such as jewelry, purses and nearly new shoes.
  • Volunteer: Mentors are needed to help guide our high school Tutor Corps students as they prepare for college and careers, and volunteers regularly assist Guadalupe Center staff in classrooms and at special events like “Buddy Day” at Hideaway Beach on Marco Island. We always welcome volunteers at our Resale Shop in Naples.
  • Partner as a sponsor: Businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals still have time to support our upcoming “Be Flamazing” Gala, Guadalupe Charity Golf Classic and other special events.

It’s important that you are able to give with confidence, give locally and help students realize their dreams. Your tax-deductible donations to Guadalupe Center truly are creating endless possibilities for students in Immokalee.

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