IMMOKALEE — An innovative academic effort that has sent hundreds of first-generation college students from Immokalee to campuses across the country has earned global recognition in an academic competition known as the “Oscars of education.”
Using the model of a work-study/college preparation program, members of the Guadalupe Center Tutor Corps Program receive mentorship, guidance, academic counseling and broad-based, structured support over the four-year high school journey while working as paid tutors of their own with the Center’s younger students to help defray college costs. Those efforts caught the attention of Reimagine Education, a joint effort of Quacquarelli Symonds, a British company and higher education consultancy, and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The project, “Guadalupe Center Tutor Corps: From migrant workers to college graduates,” made the shortlist for the Reimagine Education Access, Diversity & Inclusion Award, which was presented at an early December conference at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s heartwarming to receive global recognition for our efforts to create endless possibilities for the students of Immokalee through education,” said Dawn Montecalvo, CEO and president of Guadalupe Center. “This award is a testament to our hard-working staff, committed volunteers and most importantly, the hundreds of Tutor Corps students who are literally preparing to change the world – and no small number of whom have returned to Immokalee after college graduation to give back to their hometown.”
The 10th edition of the global education innovation competition attracted more than 1,200 submissions across 17 award categories, with the finalists representing the top 30% of entries.
Winners of the competition’s Global Education Award and Global EdTech Awards received $25,000 prizes to enable program expansion/implementation on a broader scale.
Since 2004, every Tutor Corps student has completed high school and been accepted to college, with 94% ultimately earning a college degree. The cohort’s 2023 graduating class collectively earned more than $3.5 million in scholarships and grant offers, enrolling at campuses stretching from Florida Gulf Coast University and other public and private institutions in Florida to campuses such as Saint John’s, Villanova and Ohio State.
Tutor Corps participants also receive ACT and SAT test preparation, mentorship and guidance, and financial literacy training.