by Noemi Y. Perez
As part of The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways program, students like Elvis V. are introduced to a broad range of careers within four pathways that help lead students to financial independence.
Fifty-two percent of Immokalee’s youth live at or below poverty level. The Immokalee Foundation is devoted to improving their lives by providing high-quality, community-based educational support to Immokalee’s students from kindergarten to career attainment. The results are clear: 100 percent of our students have graduated from high school, 100 percent have a postsecondary plan for a professional career, and 92 percent graduate with a postsecondary certificate or degree.
Starting in middle school, our students participate in an extensive career exploration program and career interest aptitude assessment. High school students participate in after-school career panels, field trips, networking events, and other activities in their choice of pathways, which include Business Management& Entrepreneurship, Engineering & Construction Management, Education & Human Services, and Healthcare.
Business Management & Entrepreneurship students in ninth through 11th grades attend a four-week entrepreneurship summer program at Florida Gulf Coast University – where recent Immokalee High School graduate Elvis participated over two consecutive years.
Working as part of a student team, Elvis helped to identify a business opportunity, create an innovative solution, and develop a sustainable business model; the team then presented their ideas and prototypes in an exciting Shark Tank-style format to a panel of local business leaders who served as judges.
“I was blown away by the thoughtfulness and maturity of the students involved in this program,” said judge Michael Feuer, CEO of Max-Ventures and co-founder and former CEO of OfficeMax. “They had to answer questions spontaneously, and their effectiveness speaks volumes about the invaluable training they have received.”
Students work on building a resume of marketable skills and experience that enhance their college applications – like internships in their fields of interest.
Elvis earned various business-related computer application certifications and attended a Hodges University afterschool “Professionalism in the Workplace” certification program. He also earned an opportunity to intern with Autumn Consulting, a full-service Google search marketing agency in Bonita Springs.
The full-semester digital internship opened his eyes to the world of marketing –while learning more about himself, as well.
“The experience helped me refine my business and marketing skills,” said Elvis, who edited videos and photos for Autumn Consulting’s social media accounts. “I expanded my knowledge on how marketing works. I also sharpened my communication abilities through email and Zoom meetings.”
Autumn Consulting President Nathan Misirian was impressed with Elvis’ work ethic and dedication.
“I was amazed at the initiative Elvis demonstrated,” said Misirian. “He showcased critical thinking skills to solve complex problems. I saw him build on his natural curiosity to learn new skills. As a local business owner, I’m proud to partner with The Immokalee Foundation in hosting the first digital internship and to build the next generation of digital employees in Collier County.”
Elvis is looking forward to attending Florida Gulf Coast University and studying business administration and marketing.
To help our students succeed, please consider purchasing school supplies from The Immokalee Foundation’s Business Management & Entrepreneurship Pathway Wish List at business.immokaleefoundation.org, including binders, highlighters, pencils and pens, sheet protectors and scissors. These small purchases have a meaningful impact.
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 immokaleefoundation.org.
Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at email@example.com.