The curriculum includes mathematics, science, business and entrepreneurship.
Support services include food and medical, dental and mental health care.
Students get out into the community to shadow executives.
What sounds like a model for a college actually is a snapshot of Gargiulo Education Center, based at Rail Head Industrial Park off Old U.S. 41 and dedicated to broadening horizons of farm laborers’ children from two nearby migrant housing complexes. Gargiulo runs the complexes, farms, the education center and a packing house next door.
Nearly 70 K-12 students come on weekdays after school to do their homework, have their grades monitored and learn new skills to help break the cycle of poverty. That effort can be complicated when parents follow crops from state to state.
The GEC hub of activity now seeks to expand and serve even more children. Mary Asta, the sparkplug executive director and a board member, has her eye on one of three neighboring idle buildings. Location, she explained, is crucial to maintain linkage with the existing center, students and families, who clean the school and cook native annual banquets for donors. She told Spotlight she has $500,000 already and will mount a fundraising campaign, which she has done for medical and military foundations in New York.
Meanwhile, she and the center have other needs, such as a sponsor for an entrepreneurial program next year; a business mentor for a “store” stocked with donated goods that serve as rewards for good grades and conduct; and a van for field trips for fun and learning about career opportunities.