They say education is the great equalizer, an avenue to transform lives for generations to come.

Education, however, cannot be a difference-maker without opportunity. Students must have access to a high-quality, affordable education to reap its benefits, like higher earning potential, economic security and career satisfaction.

Through education, Guadalupe Center is offering an opportunity to the students of Immokalee: an opportunity to graduate from high school and earn scholarships for college, an opportunity to work in their career field of choice and an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty that for generations has defined the impoverished community of Immokalee.

Starting with children as young as 6 weeks old, Guadalupe Center’s Early Childhood Education Program helps students develop the social, emotional and academic foundations to be ready for kindergarten. Staying by their side through early elementary years, Guadalupe Center offers an After-School Tutoring Program to continue building students’ reading and math skills. The Summer Enrichment Program helps students maintain their academic momentum during summer break. In high school, students can join the Tutor Corps Program to grow their confidence, prepare for higher education and ultimately become first-generation college graduates.

The impact on the lives of students and their families is unmistakable.

Guadalupe Center serves more than 1,300 students, but its programs and physical space are at capacity. The Board of Trustees at Guadalupe Center wants to extend the nonprofit’s impact to additional students. In the spring, Guadalupe Center will open the Monaghan Family Early Childhood Education Campus, which will enroll an additional 64 students ages 6 weeks to 3 years old. Generous supporters made the expansion possible, but Guadalupe Center needs additional funding for operational expenses.

In 2021, Guadalupe Center will open the van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning, a 31,000-square-foot facility that will accommodate another 154 students in the Early Childhood Education program, as well as house The Brynne & Bob Coletti Hall, the new home of the Tutor Corps Program. Additional funds also are needed to prepare for students’ arrival.

Since 1984, Guadalupe Center has been a model of success, proving that education – and opportunity – can redefine a community. Guadalupe Center students have made the honor roll and become high school valedictorians. They’ve earned full-ride college scholarships, made the Dean’s List and graduated with honors. They’ve returned to Collier County and become gainfully employed as educators, health care specialists, engineers, public service workers and business leaders.

Expanding Guadalupe Center’s programs to serve additional students comes at a cost. That’s why the Board of Trustees is establishing an endowment that will sustain Guadalupe Center through its upcoming expansion and beyond. An impressive 100% of board members and full-time staff already have contributed, and as a community, we all can play a role in this transformation of Immokalee, and these families’ lives, by supporting proven high-quality education programs.

Education drives success. Students deserve this opportunity.

Gifts of any amount can be made securely online at Guadalupe Center.org, or you can text GC1Mission to 52182. All donations are tax deductible and warmly appreciated.