Immokalee Foundation celebrates anniversary

TIF.25The Immokalee Foundation is celebrating 25 years of building great futures for thousands of Immokalee children and their families through its education initiatives.

The Immokalee Foundation’s 2016 Charity Classic Celebration will honor Parker Collier, who founded the effort in 1991. Collier will chair the celebration, to be held Friday, Nov. 11, at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples.

The Immokalee Foundation has helped more than 2,500 students in its 25 years, achieving a 100 percent high school graduation rate for those students who participate in its programs. Also, 100 percent of those students go on to post-secondary education at a college, university or vocational program.

Earlier this year, The Immokalee Foundation was one of the participating organizations whose application was selected for the federal “Promise Zone” designation. The regional effort, led by the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, confers 10 years of significant federal support for local leaders in Immokalee, Glades and Hendry counties to improve educational outcomes, create jobs, increase economic activity and access to affordable housing, among other local priorities. The Immokalee Foundation will serve as a pivotal education partner in the effort in recognition of its 25 years of proven success.

It was Collier and a diverse group of Naples’ top community volunteers, donors and sponsors who first developed the mission of The Immokalee Foundation 25 years ago. Their hope was to create pathways of self-reliance for the youth in Immokalee by providing health, educational and vocational support. Twenty-five years later, The Immokalee Foundation now offers a potent formula of after-school programs, volunteer mentors, funded college scholarships, and broad vocational opportunities.

The Immokalee Foundation burst onto the scene in Southwest Florida with its ground-breaking Immokalee Horse Trials annual equestrian competition. For five straight years, Collier and her team raised the crucial startup funds that helped put The Immokalee Foundation on the map.

“As we look toward to the next crucial 25 years for The Immokalee Foundation and the families it serves, we are especially grateful that Mrs. Collier would spearhead our 25th Charity Classic Celebration and help in advancing the vision of our important work,” said Joyce Hagen, chair of the board of directors. “Great and generous people helped launch The Immokalee Foundation, and it is needed now more than ever. It is an important time in America, when so many are searching for solutions in our poorest communities. The Immokalee Foundation has found the answer.”

“Mrs. Collier’s foresight has changed the future for an entire generation of Immokalee youth,” said Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation. “We are dedicated to continuing these efforts for generations to come.”

The Charity Classic Celebration is an evening of fine dining, entertainment and the Fund A DreamTM auction, a unique live bidding experience that enables donors to contribute to Immokalee’s children in specific and tangible ways.

The live auction is organized into categories that provide qualifying Immokalee youth with college and vocational scholarships, mentorship, reading support and intervention, and programs that foster post-secondary success. Donors also may provide support to build leadership and life skills, as well as funding study abroad programs, access to the arts and technology, and youth leadership.

Foundation board members Don O’Neill, Mac McDonald and Jay “Dick” Stonesifer are chairing this year’s Charity Classic Celebration. Tickets are $550 per guest. Packages are available that include the Charity Classic Pro-Am golf tournament on Monday, Nov. 14, at Bay Colony Golf Club, with an exclusive pairings party at The Old Collier Golf Club on Nov. 13.

Corporate sponsors of this year’s events are Florida Community Bank, Presenting sponsor; Arthrex Inc. and Caterpillar Inc., Partner Circle sponsors; Kelly Tractor, Education Circle sponsor; Naples Illustrated and Naples Daily News, Media sponsors; Huntington Bank, Success Circle sponsor; Mercedes-Benz of Naples and MidwestOne Bank, Pathways Circle sponsors; and Northern Trust, Table sponsor.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, its signature events, volunteering as a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.

The Immokalee Bulletin is published every Thursday.

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