Naples Stars raise $60,000 to Change the Path for Immokalee’s Future Leaders

In March, Pathways Early Education Center of Immokalee (Pathways) hosted an evening of tempting tangos, sizzling salsas, and jiving jitterbugs for its inaugural Dancing with the Naples Stars. More than 220 guests cheered on Naples Stars – key government, community, and business leaders – who were paired with professional dancers to perform in a friendly competition.

In the months leading up to the event, the Naples Stars eagerly trained with their professional dance partners in preparation for the competition. As they learned more about the children and families that Pathways serves, they were even more inspired to share the event with their friends to rally votes, raise awareness about how the school is helping children achieve their greatest potential, and raise more than $60,000.

Dancing with the Naples Stars Winners were:
• Best Female Dancer – Kimberly Tricker
• Best Male Dancer – Dr. John Bahr
• People’s Choice Award – Robert L. Nardi

The evening was chaired by Judy Tedder and Sarann Kraushaar, members of Pathfinders auxiliary support organization that hosts social events to engage its members in the importance of early education and Change the Path for the most at-risk children in Collier County.

Entering its 58th year, Pathways Early Education Center of Immokalee has strived to continue growing and serving its families – despite setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic. With limited capacities, increased operational expenses, and reduced fundraising events, the school led the charge to reach more children in-need.

In 2020, the school launched a cutting-edge virtual pre-kindergarten program that kept children engaged in literacy while they were quarantining and allowed Pathways to enroll new students in a hybrid learning environment. Additionally, Pathways used virtual technologies to keep students engaged with their mentors all around the country.

As a leader in NCEF’s Early Learning Initiative, Pathways collaborates with other nonprofits to implement groundbreaking programs that close education gaps by delivering high-quality Early Learning programs. Multiple studies have shown that when students are engaged in early education programs, they are more prepared to enter kindergarten with stronger language, math, and cognitive abilities. By giving every child access to nurturing and simulating environments, Pathways is helping Immokalee’s future leaders adapt for a lifetime of learning.

Thousands of children have passed through Pathways’ doors to achieve success in school and careers, breaking the cycle of poverty that impacts over half of the families in Immokalee. However, the waiting list for a child to enter the school can be a year or longer. More than 500 children are currently waiting to gain access to the language-rich environment, where they learn to work cooperatively with a diverse peer group.

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