The Other Side of Summer Slide

Business Management & Entrepreneurship Pathway students collaborate at Immokalee Foundation summer camp at FGCU.

by Noemi Y. Perez, President and CEO

While the well deserved tradition of summer break can benefit the mental and emotional wellbeing of students—and any stakeholders involved in the day today school operations—it’s essential to address concerns about students potentially losing ground academically.

This issue is especially significant for low income students.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, students who fall behind over the summer are less likely to graduate from high school or go on to college. This regression of academics over the summer months has been coined with the term “summer slide.”

At The Immokalee Foundation, our summer learning programs provide a fun and engaging way to transition students from one school year to the next. This summer, our middle school students will attend a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Camp in partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).

Here, 50 middle school students will engage in activities focused on improving problem solving abilities and critical thinking capabilities while strengthening communication skills through experiential learning.

Our high school students participate in our year-round Career Pathways career development program, enabling our students to begin preparing for careers that lead to well paying jobs in high demand. During the summer months, Career Pathways students attend education camps hosted by our extraordinary education partners, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and Immokalee Technical College (iTECH).

Physicians Regional Healthcare System has once again funded 100% of the costs of our Healthcare Camp, hosted by FGCU. Here, 42 Healthcare Pathway students will be busy learning about aquatic therapy, animal assisted therapy, nursing, and medical illustration and simulation.

Education & Human Services Pathway students will explore forensics and criminal justice by dusting and pulling fingerprints for crime scene investigations. Again, hosted by FGCU, these 22 lucky students will also gain a leg up in counseling and early childhood education.

Business Management & Entrepreneurship Pathway students will participate in one of our most popular summer activities, our Shark Tank themed “What’s Your Pitch?” event. Over four weeks, 27 highly creative students will work with FGCU faculty at the University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship to identify a problem or opportunity, create an innovative solution, and develop a sustainable business model.

Finally, Engineering & Construction Management Pathway students will be introduced to the essential “tools of the trade” at Immokalee Technical College, followed by a one-week construction management course at FGCU. These young men and women will receive two industry recognized credentials for their efforts.

We’re not done yet. Next, there’s our robust summer internship program, where 47 of our high school students will gain crucial hands on experience while learning directly from employers, mentors, and industry experts.

To help them prepare, each student will earn a Fundamentals of Workforce Readiness Digital Badge certification from FGCU.

Thank you to our summer education partners, FGCU and Immokalee Technical College. We also wish to express our sincere gratitude to our internship hosts, such as Physician’s Regional Healthcare System, who will host an impressive 12 Healthcare Pathway interns at its Pine Ridge and Collier Boulevard hospitals this summer.

Our enthusiastic students will also be found onsite at Arthrex, Artis Naples, AVOW, Barron Collier Companies, Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Healthcare Network, Guadalupe Center, Legal Aid of Naples, Marine Construction Inc., Naples Air, Naples Players, Conservancy of SWFL, and WGCU.

Education heroes—everyone one of them. And you, too, for reading and caring.

About The Immokalee Foundation

For more than 32 years, 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.

To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, call 239-430-9122 or visit

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