Guadalupe Center receives $55,500 grant from United Way

Guadalupe Center has received a $55,500 grant from the United Way of Collier and the Keys to enhance its After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program.

The United Way’s Community Investment Award will help provide academic enrichment to an estimated 600 Immokalee students in kindergarten, first and second grades who are designated as “at risk” for falling behind in school. Guadalupe Center’s program focuses on reading, math and science, and 100% of students show learning gains on standardized tests after participating in the program.

The grant covers part-time wages for 117 tutors, each of whom is a student at Immokalee High School and participant in Guadalupe Center’s college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. Many Tutor Corps students help supplement their parents’ income to help pay for housing, utilities, transportation and food. Tutors complete a training program through Guadalupe Center and the Collier County School District, and collaborate with certified instructors to deliver academic assistance to younger students.

“The United Way grant allows us to serve two separate groups of students, providing academic support to our younger students while providing financial assistance and valuable experience for our older group,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “Our mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee, and we are incredibly thankful to count the United Way as a partner year after year.”

Guadalupe Center is among 23 partner agencies supported by the United Way, which directs its assistance to organizations addressing health, education and financial stability.

United Way of Collier and the Keys was founded in 1957 and has a rich history of bringing together individuals, nonprofits, businesses and government entities to fight for a strong, vibrant and healthy community. United Way works to advance the common good by focusing on the building blocks for a good quality of life – education, income and health. As a volunteer-driven organization, United Way partners with hundreds of volunteers and more than 40 local charities to provide hundreds of human service programs to nearly 200,000 residents of Collier and Monroe counties. 

Immokalee teens Zoom toward dreams of college, careers

John Mayer retired in 2016 as vice president of U.S. retail sales for J.M. Smucker, a company known for iconic brands like Smucker’s jelly and Jif peanut butter. The part-time Naples resident has traveled extensively and dined on cuisine from around the world, yet offered a surprising anecdote about his meal of choice.

“One of my favorite sandwiches is still a peanut butter and jelly on wheat bread,” he said.

Mayer was the keynote presenter at Guadalupe Center’s Leadership Day on April 21. Unlike a career day, where speakers discuss their industry, a dozen professionals instead shared insights, experiences and lessons learned with dozens of Immokalee teenagers. One of Mayer’s tips was to be passionate about your job and love what you do. He parlayed his love for peanut butter and jelly into a successful 35-year career with Smucker, making him a better salesman as he approached distribution partners and a better executive who understood consumer trends and demands.

Although Mayer’s example is a unique one, other Leadership Day presenters shared similar advice.

“There is not anybody in the world that can take your dream away from you,” said Sgt. Natalie Ashby, the only female SWAT member in the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. “Nothing comes easy in life. Stick with it, and you’ll get what you want.”

Guadalupe Center created Leadership Day in 2019 as an opportunity for Immokalee High School students to not just hear from successful business leaders and entrepreneurs, but to engage in dialogue with them. This year’s Leadership Day was virtual, putting groups of three to five students into Zoom breakout rooms for 10 minutes each. The students, upperclassmen in Guadalupe Center’s college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program, were able to ask about how presenters settled on a career choice, what inspires them, how they overcome challenges and other topics.

This year’s panelists included Regine Cooper (construction), Sheri Oganowski (nursing), Sgt. Natalie Ashby (law enforcement), Tom Costello (advertising/motivational coach), Christi Finger (graphic design), Mark Nagan (engineering), Dan Miller (musician), Kellie Burns (journalism), James Ragusa (education), Jane Sussman (social work), Kasimir Oganowski (physician) and Margie White (attorney).

Just six years after graduating from Dunbar High School in Fort Myers, Cooper is Suffolk Construction’s project engineer managing a $98 million construction project at Gateway High School in Fort Myers. The youngest of the 12 presenters, Cooper’s background is similar to many students served by Guadalupe Center. Her advice to the college-bound students was simple: “Don’t go to parties. Spend your time in career services.”

Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps Program provides college and career readiness, ACT and SAT test prep, mentorships, financial literacy and scholarship assistance, as well as wages for tutoring younger students. Two years ago, Leadership Day emerged as another opportunity to better prepare students for the challenges ahead.

“We are so thankful for each presenter who shared his or her time, talents and wisdom with students, as well as our staff,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “It’s incredibly important for students to recognize that you don’t just learn in the classroom; you also learn by watching, listening and talking to others.”

– By Sheila Oxx, Director of the Tutor Corps Program.

Guadalupe Center earns fourth consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

Guadalupe Center has earned its fourth consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, the world’s largest and most-utilized independent nonprofit evaluator.

Charity Navigator evaluates nonprofit organizations on their financial strength, accountability and transparency. Guadalupe Center’s 4-star rating means it adheres to strict accounting procedures while disclosing pertinent financial and operational information to the federal government.

Charity Navigator aims to guide intelligent giving by evaluating the financial health, accountability and transparency of thousands of nonprofits each year.

“A 4-star rating is reserved for only the top charitable organizations, so for Guadalupe Center to receive the top rating for four consecutive years certainly is a tremendous achievement,” said Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center. “Donors want to feel confident that their philanthropic support is being spent wisely, and Charity Navigator’s thorough analysis of our financial records indicates that is indeed the case at Guadalupe Center.”

Guadalupe Center, which received a perfect evaluation score of 100 for accountability and transparency, is one of just 11 education-focused nonprofits in Florida to earn 4-star ratings in four consecutive years.

“Only 21% of the charities we evaluate have received at least four consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Guadalupe Center outperforms most other charities in America,” said Charity Navigator President and CEO Michael Thatcher. “This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Guadalupe Center apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”

Guadalupe Center’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. It serves more than 1,400 students annually through a nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program.

Kelly Krupp promoted to vice president of philanthropy

Guadalupe Center has promoted Kelly Krupp, CFRE, to the position of vice president of philanthropy, a role that includes oversight of donor relations, fundraising and marketing.

Krupp helped lead “Guadalupe Center: 2020 & Beyond,” a successful capital and operating campaign that raised two-thirds of the nonprofit’s $24 million fundraising goal before the campaign even went public.

“Kelly connects people to our vision and mission, helping them fulfill their philanthropic goals,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “She engages their hearts and invites them to join us in breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. Her tremendous work and dedication to ‘2020 & Beyond’ allowed us to open the Monaghan Family Early Childhood Education Campus completely free of debt, and we anticipate doing the same for the van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning that is currently under construction.”

Krupp joined Guadalupe Center in 2014 as its grants manager before being promoted to director of major gifts, managing and cultivating relationships with current and future donors to help accomplish Guadalupe Center’s philanthropic goals. She was elevated to director of philanthropy in 2019 and senior director of philanthropy in 2020 before being promoted to vice president of philanthropy earlier this year.

In her new role, Krupp oversees a team that includes a director of annual giving, director of marketing and communications, resale shop manager, philanthropy coordinator, community outreach/engagement coordinator, database coordinator, special events coordinator and philanthropy officer.

Nearly 80% of Guadalupe Center’s annual revenue comes through private philanthropic support. The organization’s most recent annual operating budget was $7.9 million, which includes donations, grants and sales at Guadalupe Resale Shop.

Fundraising helps Guadalupe Center operate its nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. Guadalupe Center serves more than 1,400 students annually.

Prior to joining Guadalupe Center, Krupp worked in donor relations for Habitat for Humanity of Collier County and served in management roles for retail stores and a human resources company. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Flagler College and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive through CFRE International, a designation that means Krupp has met a series of standards that include tenure in the profession, education and demonstrated fundraising achievement.

READ MORE: How to Give

Virtual buddies continue Buddy Day tradition for Immokalee students

Buddy Day has become an annual tradition for students in Immokalee, a much-anticipated reward for second graders in Guadalupe Center’s After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program.

Each spring for nearly three decades, more than 100 students have boarded buses bound for Marco Island, where they pair up with adult volunteers for a day of outdoor learning and fun as they explore Southwest Florida’s unique coastal habitat. Pairs of buddies participate in environmental workshops, arts and crafts, outdoor games and other learning activities.

The 29th annual Buddy Day, however, looked different. Because of the pandemic, Buddy Day transitioned to a virtual event. Guadalupe Center staff didn’t want this to be just another Zoom session, so extra thought went into developing the 2021 Buddy Day program.

Just like in previous years, there would be a fire truck, park rangers and outdoor games, and not just for one afternoon, either. Buddy Day became Buddy Week to allow for social distancing.

Representatives from Big Cypress National Preserve typically lead students through a birding expedition, pointing out various species prevalent on Marco Island. Instead, rangers created a series of birding videos that children watched before heading outside of their classrooms to explore. Big Cypress even provided handmade binoculars from toilet paper rolls. One highlight was the Birding Olympics in which rangers acted like birds to demonstrate how they fly and explain migratory patterns.

“They couldn’t smell it, feel it or touch it, but hopefully we were still able to give them a valuable experience through the videos,” said Lisa Andrews, Big Cypress’ outreach and education coordinator.

Firefighters from the Immokalee Fire Control District led students through a fire safety program and demonstrated equipment.

“I liked the fire truck because we got to pull the cord to make the alarm,” said Eulalia Juan Alonzo.

Guadalupe Center’s After-school Program serves Immokalee students in kindergarten, first and second grades in need of additional reading and math instruction. Their hard work pays off as 100% of students in the program demonstrate reading and math gains on standardized tests.

In prior years, big buddies traveled from more than a half-dozen residential communities in Naples and Marco Island. Oftentimes, big buddies were just as excited as little buddies leading up to Buddy Day.

“We knew that we needed to explore other ways to give some semblance of Buddy Day to keep the tradition going,” said Hideaway Beach Club resident Mark Ryan, who along with his wife, Linda, have helped organize Buddy Day for many years. “Buddy Day is a way to reward the children for the efforts they put in. We were not going to let COVID stop Buddy Day.”

Hideaway’s food and beverage department donated snacks for the children, while other supporters provided books, arts and crafts. Kids 2 Camp furnished stuffed animals. Another Hideaway resident packaged everything into goody bags for the students.

After enjoying Buddy Day, Ricardo Hernandez had a simple message for everyone involved in creating Buddy Day activities.

“Thank you for everything that you did for the week,” he said.

– By Bob Spano, Vice President of Programs at Guadalupe Center

Spring cleaning: Tidy up with a purpose

Spring training and spring break offer a much-needed economic boost for our region as visitors stay, eat, shop and play in Southwest Florida.

Although not quite as glamorous, spring cleaning also is beneficial to our community.

When you clean, refresh and update your home, how do you dispose of surplus items? Yard sales aren’t as popular or profitable as they once were, so oftentimes, people just set those items by the curb on trash day.

Not everything we no longer want is worthless, though. Our tastes, decorating styles or needs simply may have changed. In fact, many household items placed on the curb have a strong resale value… if given the chance.

Across Southwest Florida, nonprofit organizations will gladly accept donations and resell those items in their resale stores or thrift shops. This revenue helps support programs and services that are vital to our community, like education, youth, housing, hunger, employment and social services.

Spring cleaning quests are focused on getting rid of stuff, but throwing items with a resale value to the curb is equivalent to sending cash into the incinerator. Local nonprofits rely on your donations to make ends meet. Throwing out an end table or lamp, for instance, might free up some space in your living room or garage, but donating that end table or lamp is like giving $20 or $25 to the nonprofit of your choice.

Southwest Florida’s resale stores offer a treasure trove of goods and bargain hunters know which stores have the best merchandise. Not all locations accept the same types of donations, though, so it’s important to call ahead or look online for donation guidelines.

Guadalupe Resale Shop, for example, accepts donations of quality furniture, home décor, artwork, kitchenware, lamps, linens, DVDs and CDs, books and more, as well as all types of new and gently used ladies’ and men’s clothing, including accessories such as jewelry, purses and nearly new shoes. In 2021, the Resale Shop’s greatest needs are donations of like-new living room, dining room, bedroom and patio furniture, as well as home décor and brand-name clothing. These types of items sell quickly and command higher sales prices that enhance transformational, life-changing education programs for more than 1,400 students in Immokalee. Guadalupe Center generates nearly 9% of its annual operating budget through Guadalupe Resale Shop.

The concept of spring cleaning dates back to the days when fireplaces heated our homes during the winter. Once March and April rolled around, it was time to clean the soot and dirt that had accumulated. We no longer need to worry about that issue, especially not in Florida, but spring cleaning is still an annual ritual for many. According to data from the American Cleaning Institute, more than three-fourths of households engage in spring cleaning each year.

For any retail store, there is a delicate balance between inventory and sales. During the summer, many resale stores in Collier and Lee counties sell more items than they receive in donations. March, April and May are critical periods to build inventory that will carry stores through June, July, August and September.

In Southwest Florida, thousands of retirees and couples are preparing to head north for the summer. It’s the perfect time to clean, and the perfect time to make a donation to a charitable cause.

– By Kat McNabb, Manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop

‘Circtacular’ raises over $950,000 for education programs in Immokalee

Guadalupe Center’s Circtacular, a circus-themed virtual fundraising extravaganza, raised more than $950,000 to support the nonprofit’s mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee.

Livestreamed on Jan. 21 under the virtual big top, Circtacular was filled with special effects, comedic performances, compelling videos, heartfelt testimonials and traditional circus acts, including juggling, augmented reality, circus animals and an all-time favorite – pies in the face of Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo after online donations surpassed fundraising goals.

Guadalupe Center’s signature event is the nonprofit’s largest annual fundraiser and traditionally kicks off Naples’ winter season of philanthropic formal galas. In 2021, Circtacular instead was livestreamed to smart TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones across Southwest Florida and beyond.

“All year, our rallying cry has been ‘The show must go on,’ which refers to both Circtacular and our education programs,” Montecalvo said. “We have remained student focused and mission forward because, in our eyes, nothing can stop education as long as enough people passionately care about it. We are incredibly thankful for the unwavering support of our sponsors and donors who are helping rewrite the stars for students and families in Immokalee.”

Circtacular’s audience of philanthropists, business and community leaders, entrepreneurs and educators received patron party boxes filled with mementos, including a clown bowtie, animal crackers, locally-made custom cookies, popcorn and salsa, and Guadalupe Center accessories such as hats and face masks. The show’s interactive program featured dozens of students who are benefiting from contributions made by generous Guadalupe Center supporters.

During the show, current and former students shared their personal stories through “This Is Me,” a new campaign that introduces the talented, inspiring students of Immokalee to Southwest Florida. One of those students was Marc Dorcin, whose family moved to the U.S. from Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. He spoke no English at the time and was later assigned to remedial classes as a freshman at Immokalee High School. Now, after hard work under the tutelage of his mentors and staff at Guadalupe Center, Dorcin is enrolled in the rigorous Cambridge AICE program at school. Last year, his father passed away, and again Guadalupe Center stepped in to help, making sure he was still on track to graduate and pursue a college degree.

“Adversity is no longer my task-master; it will not control my future,” Dorcin said. “Instead, my future is filled with possibilities, including a college education.”

Circtacular’s primary fundraising mechanism was the Jump Up for Education, a lively interactive drive that allowed attendees to make a donation and “jump up” to show their support for Guadalupe Center. Donations large and small began pouring in, including a $100,000 match challenge from an anonymous donor.

Proceeds from Circtacular will support Guadalupe Center’s three educational programs: the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program.

Circtacular’s Big Top Sponsor was the Mary & Patrick McClain Foundation. Additional sponsors included Gamble Family Vineyards, Moorings Park Grande Lake/London Bay Development Group, Northern Trust, Priority Marketing, The Indium Corporation & Macartney Family Foundation, Heatherwood Construction, Waterside Shops, Carter, Elite Jets, Ficarra Design Associates and Infinite Professional Center. Media sponsors were Gulfshore Life/WINK, Life in Naples, Naples Daily News/LocaliQ and WAVV 101.1-FM.

Sharing co-hosting duties with Montecalvo was WINK News anchor Lindsey Sablan, who served as emcee. Auctioneer Greg Quiroga led the Jump Up for Education. 

WATCH: Circtacular

Tickets still available for Guadalupe Center’s ‘Circtacular’ on Jan. 21

Community members wanting to enhance education and create endless possibilities for students in Immokalee still have an opportunity to purchase tickets for Guadalupe Center’s Circtacular fundraising extravaganza.

The Jan. 21 virtual event will be livestreamed and help generate proceeds to support Guadalupe Center’s three educational programs: the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program.

“Our virtual event will be like one you’ve never seen before,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “Far from the experience of a Zoom call, Circtacular will be a lively production filled with special effects, comedic performances, compelling videos, heartfelt testimonials from our students and interactive ways for the audience to make a difference.”

Circtacular also features Jump Up for Education, a lively interactive drive that allows attendees to make a donation and jump up to show their support for Guadalupe Center.

Three ticket options are available: Big Top Patron ($500 per couple), Ringmaster Patron ($250 per couple) and Entertainer Patron ($100 per couple).

Guadalupe Center also has announced this year’s generous sponsors for Circtacular. They include:

Big Top Sponsor: Mary & Patrick McClain Foundation

Ringmaster Sponsors: Gamble Family Vineyards, Moorings Park Grande Lake/London Bay Development Group, Northern Trust, Priority Marketing and The Indium Corporation & Macartney Family Foundation

Rewrite the Stars Sponsors: Heatherwood Construction and Waterside Shops

Circus Troupe Sponsors: Carter, Elite Jets, Ficarra Design Associates and Infinite Professional Center

Media Sponsors: Gulfshore Life/WINK, Life in Naples, Naples Daily News/LocaliQ, Spotlight Magazine and WAVV 101.1-FM

Ticket and giving opportunities are available by visiting GuadalupeCenter.org/Circtacular. For more information, please contact Special Events Coordinator Tammy Richelieu at 239-963-3668 or email TRichelieu@GuadalupeCenter.org. 

Guadalupe Center announces 2021 Board of Trustees appointments

Guadalupe Center has welcomed three additional leaders to its 2021 Board of Trustees, a governing body whose members serve as advocates and ambassadors for students and families in Immokalee. 

Newly appointed trustees include Debbie Toler, Eric Wallach and John Paro, who join 20 other individuals who help set policies and direction for the nonprofit organization. Guadalupe Center’s mission is breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. Trustees and Guadalupe Center staff oversee the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and the college preparatory Tutor Corps Program. 

“Our Board of Trustees helps guide the organization, and we’re excited to welcome these three incredibly talented individuals to our leadership team,” said Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center. “Each of them shares our vision and believes in our mission, and their passion and expertise will be critical as Guadalupe Center continues to create endless possibilities for students in Immokalee.” 

Toler is a community leader with a passion for helping nonprofits, particularly those focused on education and youth, and spent her professional career in corporate marketing and communications. She serves on the statewide Board of Trustees for Pace Center for Girls and was vice president of marketing for SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. Toler earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration and communications from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Wallach is a retired partner with DLA Piper, a global business law firm. He previously chaired Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman’s employment practices and litigation practice. Wallach is an honorary trustee with the New-York Historical Society and a former trustee of Christina Seix Academy. Wallach, a mentor in Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps Program, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School.

Paro is chairman and CEO of Hallstar, a specialty chemical company serving the industrial, beauty and personal care sectors. He’s worked for the company since 1986 and previously worked in marketing and sales for FMC Corporation. Paro earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Bucknell University and a Master of Business Administration in marketing and finance from the University of Chicago.

In addition to the three appointments, Guadalupe Center also announced executive leadership positions for 2021 that includes Joe Baughman (chair), Fred Hagemann (vice chair), Dr. Carl Ehmann (treasurer) and William Dempsey (secretary). 

Guadalupe Center opens ‘Jump Up for Education’ in advance of Circtacular

The show must go on, and Guadalupe Center’s Circtacular, a virtual fundraising extravaganza set for Jan. 21, already has kicked off with its popular Jump Up for Education.

The Jump Up for Education is traditionally the highlight of Guadalupe Center’s annual fundraising gala, a lively, interactive drive to generate support that funds lifechanging education programs and fuels opportunities. The Jump Up for Education was aptly named more than 10 years ago after longtime supporter Phil Beuth implored event attendees to make a donation and then jump up to show their support for Guadalupe Center.

In 2021, Circtacular will be a livestreamed event, allowing a virtual audience of philanthropists, business and community leaders, entrepreneurs and educators to follow online as students share their compelling stories of personal challenges, achievements and ambitious goals.

“This year, we can’t ‘Jump Up’ together, but we still need the community’s support to empower our mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee,” said Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center. “We’re asking supporters to help make a million dreams come true, and that’s exactly what happens when you provide access to high-quality educational programs – you’re creating endless possibilities for the next generation.”

The Jump Up has provided tuition assistance that allows parents to afford a high-quality early learning program for their children, college scholarships that allow students to earn valuable postsecondary degrees and support to hire and train teachers who guide students toward academic success.

Supporters can contribute to the Jump Up for Education in advance or during Circtacular. All gifts will be recognized throughout the livestreamed event. Proceeds help provide high-quality learning opportunities for more than 1,400 students annually through Guadalupe Center’s nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program.

Ticket and giving opportunities are still available by visiting GuadalupeCenter.org/Circtacular. For more information, please contact Special Events Coordinator Tammy Richelieu at 239-963-3668 or email TRichelieu@GuadalupeCenter.org.