BusinessEducationFree summer camps boost career goals for underserved youth

Free summer camps boost career goals for underserved youth

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A series of free summer camps focused on STEM and other career paths seeks to boost the career goals of youth in the agricultural community of Immokalee.

Florida Gulf Coast University has teamed up with the Immokalee Foundation to offer a series of free educational camps for underserved youth in the region.

The initiative includes a STEM camp for middle schoolers and four high school camps focused on business management and entrepreneurship, education and human services, engineering and construction management, and health care.

Noemi Perez, CEO of the Immokalee Foundation, explained the value of the program

summer camps

“When you take a community and individuals who are just surviving and giving their students, their children this type of opportunity, it just, it creates such a huge impact,” Perez stressed. “Not only for the family, but also for the community as a whole.”

In its final week, students pitch their ideas to judges, like on the popular show “Shark Tank.” The competitive program serves about 1,300 Immokalee students per year. Perez said 100% of participants graduate from high school and attend a postsecondary institution.

Heather Skoza-Acosta, director of the Whitaker Center for STEM Education at Florida Gulf Coast University, oversees the middle school STEM camp. She emphasized the importance of early exposure to science.

“They have four separate STEM disciplines on four different weeks,” Skoza-Acosta pointed out. “I think it gives them an opportunity to find their passion, find their skill sets, meet some professionals working in the field. ”

During Forensics Week, Florida Gulf Coast University’s forensics anthropology team guided students through analyzing crime scenes. During Environmental Science Week, students examined water quality on campus.

Organizers said the initiative is part of a broader effort by both the university and the foundation to support educational equity and create pathways to success for underserved communities.

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