Before COVID-19 punctuated Naples’ social season, Florida Rep. Francis Rooney and his wife, Kathleen, opened their home to host a reception for The Immokalee Foundation. Those in attendance, including former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, celebrated the foundation’s career-oriented educational programs.
Stephen D. Pryor, chairman of the foundation’s board of directors, discussed the new curriculum, “Career Pathways: Empowering Students to Succeed,” which offers preparatory educational experiences and pathways for students beginning in sixth grade that lead to fulfilling careers.
The curriculum’s pathways give students a jumpstart toward professions that require certifications, credentials, or college degrees in education, human services, health care, engineering, and business management.
“We are committed to preparing our students for professional careers that are needed right here in Southwest Florida,” said Pryor. “We are by their side every step of the way, providing career exploration opportunities and learning experiences, scholarships, mentoring, and career counseling. It’s a groundbreaking program that is changing the future for these students.”
Joel Garcia, a graduate of The Immokalee Foundation, offered insight into his experience as a student. Now an engineer in Miami, he shared his journey from Immokalee to Florida Gulf Coast University. “After learning about the program, I knew that I wanted to be a part of The Immokalee Foundation, and my path shifted dramatically,” Garcia said. “I now had a goal to reach for. I could help support myself and my family and also continue to be a role model for my siblings and my community.”
As former Speaker of the House and chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Boehner worked to improve educational outcomes across the country and offer more options to students. “Education is the ultimate equalizer,” said Boehner. The Immokalee Foundation is “leveling the playing field for students who, despite limited resources, have an intense desire to learn, grow professionally, and break the cycle of poverty.”