Originally Published in the Immokalee Bulletin, July 31, 2020
This summer, when so many businesses are closed and unable to hire, as an essential business, 15 students in our community have been provided with paid internship opportunities through the Taste of Immokalee (TOI) Summer Internship Program. These are students who have completed the Taste The Impact Apprenticeship program and are now gaining hands-on business experience as they run the company, working alongside business executives in areas including marketing, accounting, sales, operations, human resources, and customer service.
By Jeremiah Paul, Taste of Immokalee Student Intern
This year has been a new adventure for all of us, but one thing that has stayed the same is the generosity from you, our supporters. Taste the Impact’s number one goal is to ensure that our students have the resources, skills, and guidance to succeed. We would not be able to do this without your help.
We want to thank everyone who has donated, volunteered, purchased Taste of Immokalee products or has supported Taste the Impact in any other way. Here are some examples of the many ways that your kindness has gone above and beyond in the past few months.
Emily Simpson, Special to The News-Press, July 23, 2020. Read the full story on News-Press.
An alarm clock buzzes around 4 a.m. reminding them it’s time to start their day. Once up, Jeanne and Jean Astreide travel to the potato packing house, where they spend the next 10 hours working. The couple returns home around 9 p.m. to a house full of children and find their work is not over.
Yvelande Astreide and her siblings witnessed their parents’ lifestyle as farmworkers. After working long shifts, Astreide’s mom and dad came home to a list of routine duties: prepare food, check homework, and wash clothes.
“It was horrible to see my mom and dad come home after work,” Astreide said. “It’s not a pretty picture at all. They get hurt. They get tired.”
Published in Coastal Breeze News, July 4, 2020.
“Resilient” has always been a word that describes Taste of Immokalee students. The Class of 2020, all that have overcome a global pandemic and racial unrest, elevates that description to a whole new level.
This time has also impeded our ability to gift our graduates with college scholarships since COVID-19 guidelines have required us to cancel our fundraisers this year. We turn to you, our generous supporters, and ask for your help in sending these remarkable students off to college with their heads held high.
"Resilient" has always been a word that describes Taste of Immokalee students. The class of 2020, and all they have overcome through a global pandemic and racial unrest, elevates that description to a whole new level.
This time has also impeded our ability to gift our graduates with college scholarships, since COVID guidelines have required us to cancel our fundraisers this year. We turn to you, our generous supporters, and ask for your help in sending these remarkable students off to college with their heads held high.
Every $500 donation enables us to provide a scholarship for one student. These funds cover necessities that are not typically covered by academic scholarships such as dorm essentials, food, supplies, clothing, winter wear, and travel home for holidays.
We are grateful for donations of all sizes and invite you to meet our graduates below.
Rachel Fradette, Naples Daily News, May 11, 2020. Read the full story on Naples Daily News.
As businesses shuttered around the country due to COVID-19, a youth entrepreneurship program in Collier County kept its business going.
The result: Taste of Immokalee students are getting firsthand experience during an unprecedented time, Marie Capita, the company’s executive director, said.
"This program took career readiness to another level for them because it prepared them for things like this that nobody else foresaw," Capita said.
In 2017, a quiet, 15-year-old young man from Naples entered the Taste of Immokalee (TOI) summer internship program.
It was the first time the youth entrepreneurship program expanded to include students outside of Immokalee, Florida, made possible by a grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. Breaking down the invisible boundaries that separate some of the State’s wealthiest and poorest communities, that summer marked a milestone for both the TOI program and for the 24 impressionable minds that would learn to run and operate a business alongside peers of differing socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
That young man was Sai Rachumalla. Now, after four years with TOI, Sai is graduating from Naples High School and likely heading off to an Ivy League campus in the fall to study at one of the country’s top engineering schools, with a particular interest in transportation engineering.
Sai’s list of accomplishments throughout his education years in Collier County are impressive. President of his school’s Academic World Quest team (2020 regional champions, 2019 medalists), a National Merit finalist, finalist in Collier County’s Spelling Bee, recognition at the State Science and Engineering Fair, a perfect ACT score and a 5.98 GPA, just to name a few. But as Sai reflects, he shares “academics have always been my strength and I was comfortable being a bookworm. But Taste of Immokalee has brought me out of my shell and taught me that there is more to life than books.”
Coronavirus. COVID-19. Social distancing. Self-quarantine. School from home. These are all terms or concepts that were unheard of just a couple of weeks ago and now they’ve become part of our new normal.
Young and old, we are all experiencing and adapting together. Through the challenges, I am so proud to share how your support helps us prepare our young entrepreneurs to rise above adversity not only in their personal lives, but also in business.
Through this crisis, they are learning more than we ever imagined.
While our thoughts and best wishes are with you and your families during these difficult times, I am hopeful that our student’s stories below will bring you five reasons to smile, knowing that your support is helping to shape these future business leaders.
Marie Capita, Executive Director
(Photos of the students contributing are included at the end of this article)
Newly Formed Nonprofit, Taste the Impact, Fuels Youth Entrepreneurship Program Behind Taste of Immokalee
Immokalee, FL – The growth of Taste of Immokalee, a social business created and operated by high school students, has created an increased demand for the youth entrepreneurship behind its success. To better support and sustain this entrepreneurship program, a nonprofit has been launched under the name of Taste the Impact.
Taste the Impact’s program is committed to providing career-focused training primarily to under-served high school students from the migrant farm-working community of Immokalee. Youth gain hands-on business experience and the soft skills necessary in today’s workforce, along with the opportunity to earn professional certifications through the Florida Ready to Work program.
Every fall, high school students in Collier County may apply to enter the program, where they begin learning about entrepreneurship and the social business model behind Taste of Immokalee. But without adequate funding to support the increased demand, many deserving students must be turned away.
“Funding is critical to continuing the program that has already transformed hundreds of young lives in Immokalee, with the potential to impact countless more in our region and beyond,” said Marie Capita, Executive Director of Taste the Impact. “Our nonprofit status now enables us to directly accept tax deductible donations and gives our donors confidence that their support goes directly to funding scholarships and training our future business leaders.”
Guiding the success of Taste the Impact is a strong Board of Directors bringing expertise in both business and philanthropy. Members include:
Learn more about Taste the Impact and how you can make a difference at www.TastetheImpact.org.