Transformational.

It’s a word I often use to describe Guadalupe Center’s impact on the students of Immokalee.

Their parents – farmworkers, laborers and service personnel – work hard, but struggle to provide basic necessities. The lack of a high school diploma or college degree has limited their career opportunities.

Children attending Guadalupe Center, however, don’t face those same limitations. With a high-quality education in their back pockets, they have gone on to become honor roll students, high school valedictorians and college graduates. Some have even returned to their hometowns as educators, health care specialists, engineers, public service workers and business leaders.

All of that success, however, has meant Guadalupe Center’s waiting list continues to grow as more families learn about the endless possibilities that an outstanding education can provide. The nonprofit does not have enough classroom space, or funding, to satisfy the demand.

Guadalupe Center’s Board of Trustees joined staff in developing a long-range strategy to address those challenges, recently launching “Guadalupe Center 2020 & Beyond,” a forward-looking campaign that aims to provide lifechanging educational opportunities to additional students in Immokalee.

Donors, trustees and community members recently celebrated the first of many milestones resulting from 2020 & Beyond as Rich and Helene Monaghan cut the ribbon on a new early learning center that will enroll an additional 64 students ages 6 weeks to 3 years old. Philanthropic donations helped purchase and renovate the newly named Monaghan Family Early Childhood Education Campus, and a matching gift program aims to support initial operations.

At that same event, I had the pleasure of announcing that Barron Collier Companies had donated 9.5 acres to accommodate the van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning. When it’s completed in 2021, the 31,000-square-foot facility will serve up to 154 students in the Early Childhood Education Program and house as many as 125 high school Tutor Corps students in The Brynne & Bob Coletti Hall.

With a mission of overcoming poverty through education for the children of Immokalee, Guadalupe Center represents hope in a community where 43.4% of residents live in poverty and 39.3% of adults do not have a high school diploma.

Guadalupe Center is stepping forward to become the catalyst that will transform lives. The campaign’s name, 2020 & Beyond, is symbolic in that it represents the next step – this year and beyond. For students in the Early Childhood Education Program, it’s about being prepared academically, socially and emotionally for elementary school. The Tutor Corps Program celebrates when students graduate from high school and college, but conversations focus on possibilities that await students after commencement – a rewarding career, a stable home environment and an opportunity to thrive in the community.

For Guadalupe Center, it’s always been about the next step, and with your support, 2020 & Beyond will allow Guadalupe Center to continue transforming lives in Immokalee through education.

Gifts and pledges of any amount can be made securely online at www.GuadalupeCenter.org, or you can call for more information. All donations are tax deductible and warmly appreciated.

– By Linda Yost, Campaign Chair, Guadalupe Center 2020 & Beyond