IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Helping more kids achieve higher education in Immokalee is the mission behind the Guadalupe Center's 2020 and beyond campaign.
The goal is to hit 24 million dollars.
Each year, The Guadalupe Center helps more than 1,300 kids through their educational programs in Immokalee.
These programs include early childhood education for children as young as six-weeks-old, after school programs for kindergarten through second grade, and high school tutoring.
To meet the needs of the Immokalee community, the Guadalupe center is now expanding.
"Immokalee is an impoverished community, and our students live in homes where English is the second language, so they're behind when they get into kindergarten," said Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center.
Through their early childhood education program, the Guadalupe Center prepares children with the emotional, social, and academic skills they'll need to strive in kindergarten.
"Ninety-five percent of our 5-year-olds test kindergarten ready when they're ready to go to kindergarten," said Montecalvo.
Right now, the Guadalupe Center's early childhood education program is operating at full capacity and has a waitlist of more than 500 kids.
"There are studies that show that children who live in poverty and English is their second language; by the time they're two years old, they have a thirty-million-word gap to their peers in middle-class homes," said Montecalvo.
To help fill this gap, the Guadalupe Center is expanding by opening two more locations,
"The Monaghan Family Campus will be opening in April of this year to serve 64 children, ages six weeks to 3, which is our greatest need," said Montecalvo.
This location will soon be able to open it's doors thanks to some early philanthropic support for Guadalupe Center 2020 and beyond campaign.
The second location will be the Van Otterloo Family Campus opening by next spring.
This location will provide an additional 154 students with early childhood education.
Barron Collier Companies donated the 9.5 acres where the Van Otterloo Family Campus will be located.
The 2020 and Beyond Campaign will help keep these locations running.
"The campaign 2020 is focused on raising funds to cover the capital expenses, as well as operating expenses, and creating an endowment so we can ensure that these programs will last into the future for many generations," said Montecalvo.
Montecalvo says they hope to serve more than 1,800 kids through this campaign.
To learn more about the Guadalupe Center, click here.