Immokalee Foundation helps students learn skills for after high school

Published: January 27, 2022 10:28 AM EST

The Immokalee Foundation has found a creative way to bring internships to students, providing hands-on experience and helping teens identify what they want to do after high school.

Jesus Mancilla is a junior in high school, but he already has an idea of what he wants to do: he’s thinking about becoming some sort of engineer. And he has a leg up, because twice a week, he and other students with the Immokalee Foundation work alongside professionals with BCB Homes to build 18 new houses after school.

“We have students working with drywallers, painters, rough carpentry,” said Carlos Moreno, assistant superintendent of BCB Homes. Moreno was once in Jesus’ shoes, learning construction through the Immokalee Foundation by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. But the learning experience is more comprehensive with this site, dubbed “the Learning Lab.”

“I really liked the idea of seeing a building start from scratch towards nothing, just like a pile of dirt, and just have it build up,” Jesus said.

Students don’t hop in and out of builds; they start with dirt and blueprints and follow the build all the way through.

“If we need to do painting, you know, instead of sending five guys to do the whole house in one day, they only send two people,” Moreno said. “And then I have the students, so they can help them out and finish the house in four days.”

Each step a win for both the students and the construction industry desperate for skilled workers.

The Immokalee Foundation offers four areas of focus for high-schoolers: Engineering and construction management; business management and entrepreneurship; education and human services; or healthcare. The foundation is one of nearly 50 nonprofits that benefit from the Naples Winter Wine Festival.

On Thursday night at 7 p.m., you can learn more about how that money raised is helping children in our community via WINK news’ special report, “A Taste for Help.” You’ll learn how the festival got started and what it’s provided the community over the last two decades. WINK and its partners at Gulfshore Life are proud sponsors of the 2022 Naples Winter Wine Festival.