TIF receives modified grant from foundation

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Submitted photo: The Immokalee Foundtion’s Immokalee Readers first graders with supporters Linda Halligan, Thomas Joseph, Janet Belle, Nancy Blum, Paul Korkos and Noemi Y. Perez at Lake Trafford Elementary.

NAPLES – The Immokalee Foundation recently received a $25,000 technology grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. Originally awarded as a challenge grant, the modified funds supported the foundation’s technology needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation grant helped us transition our Career Pathways programming to virtual platforms in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. “In doing so, we continued current programming and were able to add new programming options. The transition was swift and effective for our students.

“The COVID-19 relief was tremendously helpful in setting up our staff in virtual offices and putting laptops into the hands of students who otherwise would not have been able to stay connected to school and the foundation,” said Perez. “All the additional challenges that our community is facing make our work more important than ever, so we need to do everything it takes to help our students succeed. We are so appreciative of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation’s generous support of our efforts.”

An original grant of $100,000 was received for The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways and Immokalee Readers initiatives. Beginning in middle school, Career Pathways students participate in intensive six-week rotations to learn more about the in-demand careers in Southwest Florida in the following sectors: Engineering & Construction Management, Education & Human Services, Health Care, and Business Management & Entrepreneurship.

Together with their parents, students learn the types of professions available in each pathway, average salaries, and whether the career requires professional certifications and credentials or a two- or four-year college degree. Once students decide their career path, the program team helps them create a plan for their high school years to ensure they obtain the needed education, training, internships and industry-recognized certifications to obtain industry-specific certificates, credentials and jobs. Grant funding has been used in support of SAT and ACT preparation courses that help Career Pathways students improve their scores on the standardized tests.

The grant also supported Immokalee Readers, an early literacy intervention program that serves more than 800 struggling young readers in Immokalee’s six elementary schools. The program’s 100-plus trained tutors are high school students who are paid an hourly wage and are supervised by certified classroom teachers.

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation was created in 2004 by Best Buy founder, Dick Schulze, to give back to the communities where he and his family grew up – in Minnesota, where he built Best Buy to become the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer in Florida, where he now maintains a permanent residence. The foundation supports organizations operating in the areas of human and social services, education, including college and early learning scholarship awards, and health and medicine. For more information, visit www.schulzefamilyfoundation.org.

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 The Immokalee Foundation, 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 visit https://immokaleefoundation.org.

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