NAPLES — Construction is underway at The Immokalee Foundation’s new Career Pathways Learning Lab, an 18-home subdivision where the entire cost of the first home has been generously underwritten by The Wasie Foundation, founded by American trucking pioneer Stanley Wasie.
“Mr. and Mrs. Wasie believed that America was the land of opportunity for anyone who was willing to get an education and work hard,” said Gregg D. Sjoquist, chairman of The Wasie Foundation. “They were strong and early believers in the concept of technical training and major financial supporters in the arena of technical education. Through hard work, the Wasies rose from poverty to become one of the most well-known and successful families in Minneapolis. They demonstrated, firsthand, that in America, anything is possible.”
Students involved in The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways program – which helps students beginning in middle school identify a professional career to pursue – are gaining hands-on experience at the Learning Lab. Whether they’ve chosen careers in engineering, construction management, business management or entrepreneurship, students are working with and learning from industry professionals in land development, home construction, and marketing and sales. Each student is gaining valuable professional experience in their chosen career paths.
Collier Enterprises generously donated 8.3 acres of land for the subdivision and helped to underwrite the cost of infrastructure work that took place over the summer. The Ray Foundation’s $250,000 matching grant also was a significant boost in getting the Learning Lab underway. The Immokalee Foundation is also partnering with BCB Homes and Immokalee Technical College (iTECH) on the Learning Lab, and the first home is expected to be completed in April 2021.
Student interns are working at the subdivision during and after school, receiving real-world experience from some of Southwest Florida’s best general contractors and subcontractors. A double-wide trailer provided by Lipman Family Farms serves as a meeting space and on-site classroom, where students receive the instruction required to earn industry-recognized construction credentials.
“The Immokalee Foundation is extremely grateful for all the support we’ve received so far for the Career Pathways Learning Lab,” said Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. “This subdivision is benefiting not only our students but also the entire community of Immokalee. And the hands-on experience will have a tremendous impact on the future of our students.”
Perez added that there are many ways for the community to support the Learning Lab to benefit the foundation’s students. Sponsorship opportunities are available at a variety of levels. Options include underwriting the cost of an entire home, sponsoring the community playground, or donating funds to cover the cost of specific elements of each home, such as the foundation, furnishings or landscaping. Naming rights are available to recognize partners who are helping these students lay the foundation for a successful future.
The Wasie Foundation was established in 1966 and focuses on supplying needed financial support to those motivated to succeed. Over its five decades, The Wasie Foundation has provided tens of millions of dollars in grants and scholarship funding.
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 supporting The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways Learning Lab, becoming a mentor, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or go online to immokaleefoundation.org.