The Immokalee Foundation Builds Careers, Homes and Full-Circle Moments

by Noemi Y. Perez, President and CEO

David A. Turrubiartez Jr. is certainly not Southwest Florida’s only new homebuyer in the last few months. Still, his scenario is unique. David’s new home is house #7 out of a total of 18 planned homes being built by The Immokalee Foundation.

Since 1991, The Immokalee Foundation has been preparing the next generation of leaders through a 100% focus on education, career readiness, and professional development for students in Immokalee—from kindergarten through postsecondary education.

The Immokalee Foundation’s innovative home construction project, the Career Pathways Learning Lab, enables students following the Foundation’s Engineering & Construction Management and Business Management & Entrepreneurship Pathways to work with industry professionals and learn about land development, home construction, marketing and sales.

Immokalee Foundation alum David A. Turrubiartez Jr. and his sons in front of their new Career Pathways Learning Lab home

Working with BCB Homes, Immokalee Technical College (iTECH), and Collier Enterprises, The Foundation developed a high school curriculum to prepare students to enter the engineering and construction management professions. This curriculum focuses on after-school and summer programs incorporating experiential learning and paid internships leading to industry recognized credentials.

All the homes are sold at market value, providing middle income families with high-quality real estate options in Immokalee.

“The Learning Lab has taught me how to work as a team—and about consistency and focus,” said Foundation student Ivan. “This experience has been amazing. It’s great to help build a house for someone, knowing they can live in a safe place where they are comfortable and happy. I love it —I love it so much.”

Next up: Ivan plans to pursue a career in electrical engineering. The fact that new homeowner David is also an Immokalee Foundation alum is just a part of what makes his home so special.

Today, David resides in a brand-new home built by Ivan and other Foundation students representing the next generation of Southwest Florida’s professional workforce. However, after unexpectedly losing his wife in 2022, David lives there as a widower alongside his 7-year-old and 9-year-old sons.

“The Immokalee Foundation is a beacon of hope. As many of Immokalee’s young people have never seen outside Collier County, the Foundation enables us to understand our potential within and outside our zip code,” he said. “The Foundation showed me—and continues to show others like me—what we’re truly capable of doing.”

An operations manager at United Rentals, David is an active community member and coaches football and soccer. That’s not necessarily unusual, except that David is also paralyzed from the waist down, the result of a cavernoma on his spine when he was only 26 years old.

Resilience and determination are traits most Foundation students develop over time, and David is no exception. “I don’t need anyone to feel sorry for me. Everyone has their own trials and tribulations; everyone has their own story. I just want me and my family to be treated with respect. I’m grateful to every Foundation student who helped me provide my boys with this wonderful new home in the town I love.”

We are so proud that, through our Career Pathways Learning Lab, everyone wins—our students, their future employers, and a community greatly in need of the expertise these young people will bring to the community in the years ahead.

We’re honored to be a part of David and Ivan’s extraordinary stories of determination, gratitude and growing success.

About The Immokalee Foundation The Immokalee Foundation: For more than 32 years, The Immokalee Foundation has provided new pathways to success and financial independence through robust programming that prepares students for well-paying, in-demand professional careers in Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management and Healthcare. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, become a mentor, volunteer as a career panel speaker or host, donate, or include the Foundation in your estate plans, please call 239-430-9122 or visit

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.