The Immokalee Foundation Changes Lives

Linda Halligan, Thomas Joseph, Janet Belle, Nancy Blum, Paul Korkos and Noemi Y. Perez with Lake Trafford Elementary first graders.

by Noemi Y. Perez

Through a range of educational programs and career-based initiatives, The Immokalee Foundation works to empower children and young adults and transform the course of their lives.

Local residents are invited to get a firsthand look at those efforts – and the life-changing impact they have –by participating in an Immokalee Foundation tour. Tours are offered Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons.

Visitors first meet at the foundation’s Program Services office with student speakers, who share their experiences in the programs and how the foundation has helped chart their course to a professional career.

Career Pathways students involved in the foundation’s HealthCare and Engineering & Construction Management pathways at Immokalee Technical College (iTECH) share how they are being immersed in the nonprofit’s curriculum by receiving hands-on experience, acquiring industry-recognized certifications, and building a resume of sought-after skills.

“You have to see it to really understand the magic of The Immokalee Foundation,” said Jerry Belle, an Immokalee Foundation board member and one of its most active volunteers. “The concept of our Career Pathways initiative comes to life when you actually see it inaction.

The healthcare lab and engineering and construction management workshop at iTECH are two great examples.

Jazline, an Immokalee Foundation
Immokalee Readers first-grade student at Lake Trafford Elementary

”The tour wraps up with a visit to a program site for Immokalee Readers, which currently serves 844 students in kindergarten through fifth grade who are reading below grade level.

The literacy program is designed to help enhance reading skills and build lasting relationships with the help of professional teachers and paid high school tutors from The Immokalee Foundation, many of whom are following the foundation’s Education & Human Services career pathway.

“Seeing the ‘little ones’ in the Immokalee Readers program reinforces how important it is to get an early start on making reading fun,” said Belle.

After participating in a tour, Peggy Post, director emeritus of The Emily Post Institute, said, “The experienced and compassionate staff were so welcoming as they explained the amazing way in which the foundation helps hundreds of Immokalee’s youth …we witnessed enthusiasm, positive results, and gratitude from everyone we met, everywhere we went.”

A tour of Immokalee – including the site where the foundation is creating a housing subdivision that will serve as a hands-on learning laboratory for Career Pathways students – can be added on to the experience for those interested.

To learn more about tours and tour availability, call 239-430-9122.

Many local residents may have heard of The Immokalee Foundation, but they might not fully understand everything that we do. That’s why we encourage people to take a tour, so they can see for themselves the kind of life-changing impact we are having on the young people in our community.

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

Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at

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