Large group of students sitting in front of the Immokalee Foundation sign
[A Case of Achievement:] text
The
Immokalee
Foundation

Transforming Lives
F

or 30 years, The Immokalee Foundation has been serving the children of Immokalee, Florida — one of the nation’s largest migrant communities. The Foundation’s after-school program empowers students and changes lives in its design. With a focus on education and development of life skills, it offers students the resources and support they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

The Foundation’s goal is to prepare students for lifelong success. Students come from situations where English may not be their first language, where just getting through high school is an achievement, and where a college degree and career success are mere dreams. The Foundation is in the business of helping make those dreams come true. With the support of mentors, donors, and volunteers, that is exactly what they are doing.

Career Pathways

A Pathway to Success
One of The Immokalee Foundation’s initiatives to prepare students for the future is Career Pathways. This program exposes students to different career opportunities. Middle school students take part in career exploration, where they can explore topics such as Business Management and Entrepreneurship, Education and Human Services, Engineering and Construction Management, and Healthcare. High school students progress to career immersion, choosing a career path, earning professional certifications, and interning to gain experience. Throughout the program, students have access to a volunteer adult mentor and/or a staff
advocate to guide their progress.

Stories from The Immokalee Foundation

A Graduate’s Perspective
Marissa Ocanas is the Immokalee Readers program manager for The Immokalee Foundation. She is also an alumna of the program. Ms. Ocanas joined the Foundation in the seventh grade after a rigorous application process and with the support of her mother who wanted to help her daughter realize her dream of going to college. “The Immokalee Foundation was my support system,” said Ocanas. “The Immokalee Foundation set a foundation that I could stand on to pursue my career choice in college. They were there to help with resources like college tours, prep classes, career panels, and advocacy. My student advocate at the time was Noemi Perez, our current CEO. She was my biggest motivator. She encouraged me and pushed me to be a better student.” Ms. Ocanas notes her experience in the program during middle and high school, and the advice and support she received from her student advocate, was an enormous factor in her success. “In fact,” she says, “I am really thankful that The Immokalee Foundation was there, because, honestly, if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I would have graduated with my bachelor’s degree in business.”

Kelly Gracia, Student The Immokalee Foundation
“I feel Achieve3000 should be a program that is available to all students worldwide. This will push students in achieving their dreams.”
– Kelly Gracia, Student
The Immokalee Foundation

Achieve3000 Literacy
As part of their career preparation, students use Achieve3000 Literacy to boost their literacy skills. As mentioned earlier, many of the children come from homes where English is not the first language spoken. This makes it exceedingly difficult for them to perform well on the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA), Florida’s statewide tests for ELA and math, which are administered in English and influence the path that students take in their schooling. Achieve3000 Literacy has proven to be effective in helping The Immokalee Foundation participants in grades 6-10 build their literacy skills and boost their FSA scores.

Throughout the program, students have access to a volunteer adult mentor and/or a staff advocate to guide their progress.
Girl working on her laptop sitting on her bed
Achieve300 Literacy logo

The Impact of Achieve3000 Literacy
As part of her role at The Immokalee Foundation, Ms. Ocanas oversees the Achieve3000 Literacy implementation. She reviews students’ data and makes sure they are staying on track and pushing forward. In the two years that the students have been using Achieve3000 Literacy, she says they have seen tremendous growth. In 2019-20, Immokalee saw Lexile growth of 49L despite the pandemic. This year, they have already seen growth of 60L, as of 1/31/21. Students do their Achieve3000 Literacy lessons after school besides their regular schoolwork. At home, students often look after younger siblings, and most parents speak only Spanish. The language scaffolds built into the articles give students the extra help they need to comprehend what they are learning. Their mentors encourage them to use the vocabulary tool to help with pronunciation and definitions.

A Student’s Perspective
Eighth grade student Kelly Garcia is a regular participant in The Immokalee Foundation program, attending virtually Mondays through Wednesdays after school. She has been a student with the Foundation for a year and a half. Garcia shared her appreciation for the opportunities given to her and her fellow students to succeed. She mentioned her mentor checks in with her regularly to check on her grades and to see if there are any areas where she needs support. As part of her after-school work, Garcia uses Achieve3000 Literacy for one hour a week. She has noticed that her reading comprehension in English language arts has improved in school since starting with Achieve3000 Literacy and credits the program for her success, saying, “I love Achieve3000! It’s pushing me to increase my literacy and comprehension. I think it’s actually more challenging than my normal middle school classes.” Garcia talked about the articles in Achieve3000 Literacy, how interesting they are, and how much she enjoys learning new things. She said one thing she likes best about the program is that it gives Immokalee students an opportunity to learn, especially those from low-income families. She concluded by saying, “I feel Achieve3000 should be a program that is available to all students worldwide. This will push students in achieving their dreams.”

Five students in front of the Immokalee Foundation sign
High school graduate posing for picture
The Immokalee Foundation and Achieve3000 share a common mission: to unlock potential and accelerate learning for every student. Over the past three decades, the Foundation has powerfully impacted the lives of students in the Immokalee community.

Building Successful Futures
The Immokalee Foundation and Achieve3000 share a common mission: to unlock potential and accelerate learning for every student. Over the past three decades, the Foundation has powerfully impacted the lives of students in the Immokalee community. The numbers below reflect that impact:

+ 100% of the students graduate high school.

+ 100% enroll in post-secondary education at universities, colleges, or technical programs.

+ 87% achieve reading growth, and 64% are reading at grade level.

+ 92% of graduates complete their professional certification programs, or college education.

Through the Career Pathways program, the use of Achieve3000 Literacy to accelerate reading growth and other opportunities, such as career panel presentations and field trips, empowers the students of The Immokalee Foundation to continue to grow as they move toward a successful future. Currently, there are 253 Immokalee students attending college on scholarship. They are living proof that dreams come true.

Expected and Actual Lexile Growth: Overall 2019-2020 graph
Expected and Actual Lexile Growth Overall 2020-2021 YTD graph
Three students in front of trees
Large group of students standing around the Immokalee Foundation sign