"Our community and nation are struggling from a shortage of emergency dispatchers at levels not seen in recent memory, placing the lives of our residents at risk," said Noemi Y. Perez, President and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. "This summer, three service-driven Immokalee Foundation students participated in the Public Safety Career Academy to help solve this problem. This exceptional program represents an innovative step in addressing the critical shortage of 911 call takers and dispatchers in Southwest Florida."
Launched in August of 2021, the Academy is part of the curriculum offered by The Immokalee Foundation's Education & Human Services Pathway—one of four pathways that comprise the innovative Career Pathways Program, which helps prepare students for in-demand, professional careers in Southwest Florida.
"We are extremely proud of this partnership and the benefits it provides to our agency, our community and the participating students," said Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. "Everybody wins when students receive the training that allows them to pursue a rewarding career serving their community."
Students completing the CCSO academy have completed the 232 hours of training required to take the exam to become state certified as a public safety telecommunicator in Florida. They will also begin the application and hiring process at CCSO with the goal of being ready to start on-the-job training as a full-time dispatcher.
This is the second year that The Immokalee Foundation has participated in this program, having partnered with CCSO for the pilot program last year.
"Graduating felt surreal," said Immokalee Foundation student Jose Navarro. "I still remember the first day and how I thought I may not learn all the curriculum in time. It's truly a whole other language in itself."
"I am eager to start working and gain experience in an important area of service," added Immokalee Foundation student Mariceliah Cruz. "Dispatchers are extremely important to the community because they are the very first contact in an emergency incident. With hundreds of calls coming through each day, not having enough dispatchers can make it more difficult for emergency personnel like police, firefighters, or paramedics to meet the necessary response time for emergencies in our local area."
An Immokalee native, Perez understands the transformative power of these types of opportunities for students. "These young men and women are now prepared to embark on a career that will change their lives—and the lives of countless people in Southwest Florida who may depend on their expert care and guidance. I am proud to partner with Collier County Sherriff's Office and celebrate our students who help answer the call for residents at their most critical time of need."
About The Immokalee Foundation
For more than 30 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 to postsecondary education. The Immokalee Foundation offers 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. For additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit immokaleefoundation.org