Guadalupe Center opening doors to higher education for another 29 Immokalee students through Tutor Corps

By Helen Midney, Guadalupe Center
Special to the Immokalee Bulletin
It was 90-minute ceremony that ultimately will change their lives.

Although the magnitude of becoming a Tutor Corps student likely hasn’t yet hit them, 29 Immokalee students took the first major step toward college by saying “yes” on Tuesday, May 15.

Guadalupe Center held a formal induction ceremony to welcome a new group of underclassmen into Tutor Corps, a college preparatory program that has produced an astonishing 100 percent college admission rate for 13 consecutive years.

“It truly is a life-changing program,” said Dawn Montecalvo, president of the Guadalupe Center. “Our Tutor Corps students show great academic promise and leadership abilities, and our objective is to help prepare them for college while reducing financial obstacles that often pose roadblocks in higher education.”

Tutor Corps students are eligible for Guadalupe Center scholarships of up to $16,000, and the average wage earned by tutoring younger children in Guadalupe Center’s programs is $2,500 annually. Additionally, Guadalupe Center staff members help students secure merit and need-based scholarships to defray the cost of a college education. The 29 members of Tutor Corp’s Class of 2018, for example, were offered an estimated $2.6 million in scholarships, grants and financial aid.

“We’ve all heard the phrase ‘money is no object,’ but in reality, money is an object – a big roadblock – that prevents many capable students from pursuing a college degree,” Montecalvo said. “Guadalupe Center has mitigated that roadblock for Tutor Corps students.”

The newly inducted Tutor Corps students include 25 incoming freshmen and four incoming sophomores. Throughout their time at Immokalee High, Tutor Corps students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average while leaning on an adult mentor for guidance and support. Guadalupe Center staff also provide workshops on financial literacy and public speaking in addition to SAT and ACT prep.

Federal statistics show that a bachelor’s degree leads to about $1 million more in lifetime earnings compared to individuals with high school diplomas. Put simply, a college degree is a difference maker in an impoverished community like Immokalee, where the U.S. Census reports only 7.7 percent of adults have a college degree and the average annual household income is $38,071. By comparison, the Florida average is 37.2 percent and $69,936, respectively.

“Guadalupe Center’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee, and the fact that we’ve been able to send every Tutor Corps graduate to college and a achieve a 92 percent college graduation rate for more than a decade is a testament that we’re fulfilling our mission,” Montecalvo said.

For more information about Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps program, please visit GuadalupeCenter.org or call 239-657-7711.

The Immokalee Bulletin is published every Thursday.

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