By Don Manly
Originally published in Coastal Breeze News on March 21, 2020
A serious illness several years ago led Marie Capita to take stock of just what she was doing with her life. The result of that internal dialog was a course correction, one that saw her exchange her legal career for one that she finds more fulfilling – helping prepare Immokalee’s high school students for career success once their school days end.
Capita is executive director of two organizations that are dedicated to providing the skills to accomplish that goal: Taste of Immokalee and Taste the Impact.
Taste of Immokalee is a student created and led company that provides hands-on experience in all aspects of business. The focus is on entrepreneurship and leadership and to prepare youths for college and careers. Founded in 2014, the company creates and sells specialty food products representing Immokalee’s diverse culture and rich agriculture. The products are sold online and in supermarkets, including in more than 240 Publix locations. Profits are returned to the community to benefit youth programs, and alleviate hunger and poverty.
eBella Magazine, Aug/Sep 2020 issue. Story by Jennifer Reed, Photography by Heather Donlan.
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.
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.
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.
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.