Wasie and Immokalee Foundations Together Constructing a Brighter Future

The Immokalee Foundation helps its students construct plans for their futures – and many of those students will also be helping to construct a new neighborhood for the community they call home.

The Immokalee Foundation is building an 18 home subdivision that will provide hands-on professional career experience for our students.

The Wasie Foundation has generously underwritten the entire cost of the neighborhood’s first home, currently under construction.

Stanley Wasie, a pioneer in the American trucking industry, established the Wasie Foundation in 1966 with a mission to offer needed financial support to those motivated to succeed. Over its more than 50 years, the foundation has provided tens of millions of dollars in grants and scholarship funding.

“Mr. and Mrs. Wasie believed that America was the land of opportunity for anyone who was willing to get an education and work hard,” said Gregg D. Sjoquist, chairman of the Wasie Foundation.

“They were strong and early believers in the concept of technical training and major financial supporters in the arena of technical education. Through hard work, the Wasies rose from poverty to become one of the most well-known and successful families in Minneapolis. They demonstrated, firsthand, that in America, anything is possible.”

The new subdivision in Immokalee is the centerpiece of the Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways Learning Lab. Students involved in our Career Pathways program – which helps students starting in middle school identify a professional career to pursue– will gain hands-on experience.

Students in the engineering and construction management fields, as well as business management and entrepreneurship, will work with and learn from industry professionals in land development, home construction, and marketing and sales, as the new neighborhood is being built.

Collier Enterprises generously donated 8.3 acres of land for the subdivision and helped underwrite the cost of infrastructure work that took place over the summer.

The Ray Foundation’s $250,000 matching grant also helped greatly in getting the Learning Lab underway. The Immokalee Foundation is working in partnership with BCB Homes and Immokalee Technical College on the project, and the first home is expected to be completed in April 2021.

Student interns will work at the Learning Lab site during and after school, receiving real-world experience from some of Southwest Florida’s best general contractors and subcontractors.

A double-wide trailer provided by Lipman Family Farms serves as a meeting space and on-site classroom, where students receive the instruction required to earn industry-recognized construction credentials.

Community members can support this important project in a variety of ways. Sponsorship opportunities range from underwriting an entire home or the community playground to donating funds to cover the cost of furniture or specific elements of each home, such as the roof or landscaping.

This exciting project will provide our students with a firsthand look at careers they are interested in pursuing. That insight, plus the on-the-job experience they gain, will have a major impact on their professional and financial lives for many years, as well as the long-lasting impact of the project on the entire community of Immokalee.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence.

To learn more about the Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor,
making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.

Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of the Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at noemi.perez@immokaleefoundation.org.

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