Guadalupe Center has dedicated a new education campus in Immokalee that will provide additional families with access to high-quality, life-changing educational programs.
The van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning consists of two buildings on nine acres. The Early Childhood Education Building features 12 classrooms and accommodates 154 students ages 6 weeks to 5 years old in the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program. The adjacent Brynne & Bob Coletti Hall is home to Guadalupe Center’s out-of-school-time programs, including dedicated learning space for the 117 Immokalee High School students in the college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program.
Guadalupe Center relied on philanthropy to fund the project through its “Guadalupe Center: 2020 & Beyond” initiative.
“The van Otterloo campus represents several years of dreams and hard work all coming together,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “While we are marking the final stages of construction, we’re truly celebrating the endless opportunities that the new campus will provide to families in Immokalee. Education changes lives, and we’re so grateful for our generous supporters who believe in our mission and the students we serve.”
The waiting list for Guadalupe Center’s Early Childhood Education Program has regularly exceeded 400 students throughout the past five years, but the van Otterloo campus is expected to significantly lower that number. Although the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida reports that more than three dozen child care centers in Collier and Lee counties have closed since 2020, Guadalupe Center has been able to expand access by opening two locations – the Monaghan Family Early Childhood Education Campus in 2020 and van Otterloo campus in 2022.
Guadalupe Center operates the only early learning program in Collier County accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
“It’s been proven by research that if children learn to talk and learn to read at a fairly early age, they will do much better later on in life,” said Rose-Marie van Otterloo, who along with her husband, Eijk, issued a challenge grant to kickstart the project. “When they finish here and go on to public school, they all speak English, they can read, they can write and they can do a certain amount of math. It’s wonderful.”
In addition to a dozen classrooms, the Early Childhood Education Building features a medical and dental suite, cafeteria and kitchen, library, art and music room, learning garden, three playgrounds and administrative offices. The building features durable flooring, lots of natural light and brilliant pops of color, a signature of Guadalupe Center.
Brynne & Bob Coletti Hall, named for two longtime supporters, features a learning lab, student lounge, mentor-mentee rooms, a kitchenette, office spaces and a student wall of fame. The building is expected to host social gatherings, college seminars, guest lectures and other academic events.
Although the van Otterloo campus will not be fully operational until early summer, Guadalupe Center hosted a ribbon-cutting celebration and dedication on April 21 to offer private tours showcasing the building’s features. One of those in awe was Eijk van Otterloo.
“My reaction was ‘Wow!’ This is such a fantastic building,” he said. “It really exudes the kind of space you hope to find for education. It’s absolutely perfect.”
Project partners for the van Otterloo campus include Heatherwood Construction, David Corban Architects, Peninsula Engineering and Barron Collier Companies, which donated land for the new campus.
About Guadalupe Center
Guadalupe Center is a purpose-driven nonprofit organization with proven success in creating endless possibilities for the students of Immokalee through education, as well as fostering personal and academic success that leads to economic independence. Established in 1984, Guadalupe Center is a premier, education-focused organization that delivers outstanding results: 95% of students in the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program meet or exceed kindergarten readiness standards; 100% of students in the After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program demonstrate significant gains in reading and math; and 100% of seniors in the college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program graduate from high school and are accepted into college, with more than 94% ultimately earning a college degree. With a mission to break the cycle of poverty through education, Guadalupe Center serves more than 1,750 students annually and is generously supported by private donors, philanthropic organizations and community partners. For more information, please visit GuadalupeCenter.org or call 239-657-7711.