NAPLES — Representative Byron Donalds recently visited The Immokalee Foundation’s new 18-home Career Pathways Learning Lab construction project, where he personally saw the motivated students hard at work building beautiful new homes for their community.
Foundation members and students led Donalds and his wife, Erika, around the home construction sites to explore and observe how students are gaining trade knowledge and experience through the Learning Lab.
“Having represented the town of Immokalee for four years as a state representative, I know the good work The Immokalee Foundation does for the residents and the community as a whole. The people of Immokalee are hardworking, generous, and full of heart,” said Donalds. “The foundation’s commitment to education and the prosperity for Immokalee is inspiring. The Learning Lab is a great tool for students to get real hands-on experience for the career of their choosing. Through this program, students learn the value of working in a trade, and how it can lead to success.”
The Immokalee Foundation students were eager to meet Donalds and take him on a tour of the Learning Lab. Some of the participating students shared that the most enjoyable part of the experience was hearing firsthand the positive feedback and support Donalds has for the program and the foundation.
“When I first started my internship at the Learning Lab, I never expected to meet a congressman,” said student Frantzy S. “Knowing we have the support of Congressman Byron Donalds makes this experience even more rewarding.”
Student Diego G. added, “It was an honor to meet a congressman, especially one who represents my hometown.”
The students are working alongside BCB Homes professionals and other homebuilding contractors to learn technical and professional skills that are in high demand throughout Southwest Florida.
Collier Enterprises generously donated 8.3 acres of land for the Learning Lab subdivision on Foundation Way in Immokalee and helped underwrite the cost of the permitting and infrastructure work with an investment of more than $1 million. The Ray Foundation’s $250,000 matching grant provided a significant boost in getting the Learning Lab underway. In addition, four homes have been underwritten by generous donations from Patricia and Donald Altorfer, the Community Foundation of Collier County, Barbara and Dale Morrison, and the Wasie Foundation.
The three-bedroom, two-bath single-family homes will have a two-car garage and an outdoor lanai. Each home will take approximately seven months to complete and sold at market price, with proceeds funding The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways Learning Lab program.
Through the program, participating students learn about land development, home construction, marketing and sales, in addition to their educational curriculum. As a result, these students graduate high school with a resume of marketable skills of interest to both postsecondary admissions directors and future employers.
As a devoted champion of the community, Donalds is amazed by The Immokalee Foundation’s success rate, as well as the Learning Lab program. “The 100% graduation rate of The Immokalee Foundation students is beyond impressive,” said Donalds. “The mentorship, guidance and insight The Immokalee Foundation gives these young adults as they navigate this next chapter in their lives is awe-inspiring.”
The Learning Lab is part of The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways program, which provides the youth of Immokalee with robust after-school and summer programming that prepares them for well-paying, in-demand professional careers. Career Pathways empowers students to pursue careers in Engineering & Construction Management, Business Management & Entrepreneurship, and Education & Human Services and Healthcare.
For more than 30 years, The Immokalee Foundation has provided 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, becoming a mentor, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, making a donation, including the foundation in estate plans, or additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit immokaleefoundation.org.