Guadalupe Center embarks on $24M fundraising campaign to serve more Immokalee children

Liz Freeman
Naples Daily News

Guadalupe Center in Immokalee has embarked on an ambitious fundraising campaign to help change the lives of more disadvantaged children in the farmworking community.

The nonprofit organization that offers educational and social enrichment programs to break the cycle of poverty aims to raise $24 million through its “2020 & Beyond” campaign, said Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center.

“We have $24 million in needs,” she said. 

Dawn Montecalvo

Through expansion of programs in early childhood education, after-school tutoring and summer enrichment, and Tutor Corps guidance for high school and college students, the combined enrollment will increase to 1,800 students. The current combined enrollment is 1,300.

The “2020 Beyond” campaign will add two locations in Immokalee to serve more children in the community that lacks affordable and high quality programs, said Linda Yost, campaign chairwoman.

“These new campuses will help satisfy some of that demand and prepare children for success in elementary school and beyond,” Yost said in a news release.

In Immokalee, more than 43% of the residents live in poverty; about 39% of adults have high school diplomas. Guadalupe Center’s early childhood program operates at capacity and has a waiting list that exceeds 500 students.

Last year, the nonprofit purchased a building at Carson and Lake Trafford roads and renovated it with a gift from Rich Monaghan, of Naples and Boston, and his wife, Helene. Rich Monaghan serves on the board of Guadalupe Center, Montecalvo said.

He is no relation to Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza and Ave Maria University.

Later this spring, when the Monaghan Family Early Childhood Education campus opens, it will be one of two new campuses for early childhood education and serve 64 children age 6 weeks to three years old.

Rendering of the future van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning in Immokalee, part of the Guadalupe Center

A $5 million matching grant from Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo, of Massachusetts and Naples, will support construction of a second campus on Westclox Street across from Eden Park Elementary School.

The campus will be built on 9.5 acres donated from Barron Collier Companies.

The campus will involve two buildings, the first is an early learning education building with 12 classrooms for 154 children age six weeks to five years old, Montecalvo said.

Once the first building is completed, the second building, to be called Brynne & Bob Coletti Hall, will serve students in Guadalupe’s college preparatory Tutor Corps program.

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Enrollment growth in the early learning and afterschool programs will result in expansion of the Tutor Corps program to 125 students, Montecalvo said.

The combined expanded enrollment is expected in 2022, she said.

“This campaign isn’t just about hitting a fundraising target or constructing new buildings,” she said. “It’s about creating more possibilities for the students of Immokalee and helping future generations of students overcome the risks associated with living in an impoverished community like Immokalee.”

The $24 million goal involves up to $14 million for construction and operating expenses for one year plus an endowment, Montecalvo said.

For information about making a contribution, go to  call 239-657-7711.