IMMOKALEE — Noemi Perez, President and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation has been named as Florida College Access Network’s (FCAN) 2022 College Ready Florida Innovator. Perez was honored with the award during FCAN’s annual Talent Strong Florida Summit.
FCAN is a collaborative network of organizations and individuals committed to ensuring all Floridians have the opportunity to achieve a postsecondary education. The College Ready Florida Innovator Award recognizes those trying new approaches to help students get into and pay for college while inspiring younger students to plan for their futures.
Perez was selected for the award thanks to her leadership in redesigning The Immokalee Foundation’s college-preparatory programs to ensure every student acquires the technical skills, hands-on experience, and credentials that lead to a professional career and financial independence.
“Through Noemi’s leadership, The Immokalee Foundation is always innovating new ways to support its students in and out of the classroom,” said Charleita M. Richardson, FCAN’s executive director. “We are proud to honor Noemi’s commitment to ensuring students are in the best position to succeed.”
The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways program launched nearly three years ago and builds on the success of the Foundation’s after-school and summer college-preparatory programs. Through extensive collaboration with local middle and high schools, industry professionals, and higher education institutions, Perez led the development of the Career Pathways program — a professional development and career model that prepares students for professional careers in high-demand jobs in Southwest Florida.
“All the innovative thoughts and ideas in the world mean nothing without a leader committed to his or her mission,” said Jerry Belle, Chairman of the Board for The Immokalee Foundation. “Through her passionate and thoughtful leadership, Noemi has inspired countless staff, donors, supporters and community leaders to come together to change the face of education for the 1,300-plus students served annually by The Immokalee Foundation. As this award clearly indicates, her influence is now poised to enrich education throughout the State of Florida, and we couldn’t be more proud.”
The Career Pathways Program allows students to explore careers in four career sectors: Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management, and Healthcare. The robust program provides students access to after-school and summer programs, field trips and career panels, apprenticeships and internships, mentoring, classes for earning industry certifications and credentials, and dual enrollment programs at local colleges and universities.
The program is helping students find and pursue their passions, and has seen marked success; 100% of Immokalee Foundation students graduate from high school, 100% have a postsecondary plan for a professional career, and 92% go on to graduate with an advanced postsecondary certificate or degree.
For more information on The Immokalee Foundation’s transformational work, visit: immokaleefoundation.org.