The League Club has awarded $15,000 to the Guadalupe Center to help support its Smart Start Program, an early childhood education program that prepares Immokalee youth for success in the classroom.

Guadalupe Center was among 30 local agencies that received grants totaling $327,970 from The League Club at its Briefcase Breakfast on Thursday, April 5.

“We’re extremely grateful for The League Club’s generous donation this year and its unwavering support in prior years,” said Dawn Montecalvo, president of the Guadalupe Center. “Our Early Childhood Education program is critically important in ensuring the children of Immokalee build a strong academic and social foundation by the time they enter kindergarten. That’s truly the first step in helping us in our mission to break the cycle of poverty.”

Guadalupe Center’s Early Childhood Education program serves more than 300 children from infancy through age 5, and currently has a waiting list that exceeds 500 students. While only 18 percent of Immokalee children enter kindergarten performing at or above grade level expectations, 95 percent of Guadalupe Center’s pre-kindergarten students meet or exceed those standards.

Designed to provide academic support for children not in another program and those on Guadalupe Center’s lengthy waitlist, Smart Start teaches parents to facilitate in-home learning by giving them tools to enhance their children’s social, emotional and academic skills to be successful at school. The once-weekly program is hosted at five locations in Immokalee to encourage attendance from all areas of the community. Parent and child are led through a lesson and activities that correspond. Additional activities are provided to take home and continue learning at home. Parents are guided and coached during the session by the instructor, leaving with tools to help their child develop critical skills.

The League Club, a Naples-based nonprofit organization, is comprised of women who strengthen communities through fellowship, education, volunteerism and philanthropy. Since its inception in 1986 through the Association of Junior Leagues International, The League Club has donated more than $4.2 million to 157 nonprofit causes.

About Guadalupe Center
Guadalupe Center is a purpose-driven, nonprofit organization with proven results in creating endless possibilities for the students of Immokalee through education and fostering personal and academic success that leads to economic independence. With a focus on breaking the cycle of poverty through education, Guadalupe Center is proud of the children’s accomplishments: 94 percent exceed kindergarten readiness measures, 100 percent of Tutor Corps high school seniors graduate high school and are accepted into college, and more than 90 percent graduated with a post-secondary degree.