Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, more youth in The Immokalee Foundation’s programs now have pathways to success.
The Immokalee Foundation is one of a select group of nonprofit organizations recently honored with a grant from the family foundation started by the founder of the Best Buy chain of retail stores. To qualify for RMSFF grants, programs must offer “rigorous and effective learning experiences” through tutoring, after-school programming or camps. The Immokalee Foundation was fortunate to receive funds to benefit students of all ages enrolled in its programs, from Immokalee Readers to Career Development.
Immokalee Readers is an after-school program designed to target the lowest-performing elementary student readers by complementing the reading instruction they receive during the regular school day.
The program matches high school-age tutors with the elementary children to provide intensive and enjoyable reading lessons. Currently, the program involves 545students enrolled in Immokalee’s five elementary schools, plus 110 trained high school tutors. All of the elementary students make measurable gains in reading proficiency after participating in Immokalee Readers.
The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Development programs expose students to choices for successful futures, whether in college, the military or vocational school. They also learn important foundational skills, such as effective communication, leadership and work ethic.
Richard “Dick” Schulze, the chairman emeritus of Best Buy Co. Inc., started the foundation in 2004. In addition to education, RMSFF supports human and social services efforts as well as programs and students studying health and medicine. While most of its grants support nonprofits that serve working- and middleclass families in Lee and Collier counties as well as seven Minnesota counties, some funding fuels programs that are national in scope. Schulze was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, and now lives in Southwest Florida with his wife, Maureen.
Schulze came from a modest background, building the company originally called The Sound of Music from the ground floor, expanding to six stores in 1983 and going public soon afterward. Today, Best Buy employs more than 145,000 people and operates more than 1,400 stores in the United States and 479 stores in Canada, China and Mexico.
Although Schulze’s plans to attend college never materialized, he has generously supported the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, the school where he enrolled before joining and engaging in full-time, active duty in the Air National Guard.
“The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation is interested in students having access to high-quality education, which includes after-school tutoring and mentoring, as well as college and career development programs,” said Mary Beth Geier, Lee and Collier counties region coordinator for the foundation.
“Fortunately for the community, The Immokalee Foundation provides all of that– and much more. Therefore, we are excited to partner with them, through this grant, so they can continue to offer outstanding programs to the students and families in Immokalee.
”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 The Immokalee Foundation, including volunteering, becoming a mentor, making a donation or any other information, call 239.430.9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.
Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at email@example.com.