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Letter from the Executive Director


Isabel Garcia
Isabel Garcia

Dear Friends,

As the Executive Director of RCMA, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the challenging times we have faced due to the ongoing pandemic and share our journey of overcoming the numerous obstacles it presented. And, as surprising as it may seem, share with you some of the positive outcomes following the pandemic.

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on communities worldwide, and the educational sector has been no exception. The sudden shift in the landscape forced us to adapt rapidly to new circumstances, significantly affecting our ability to educate the children we serve, and be a resource for families struggling to cope with the adverse effects brought on by the epidemic. However, I firmly believed that in the face of adversity, true resilience would shine through. And it did!

One of the primary challenges we encountered was in continuing to adapt to the ever-changing CDC updates that saw many changes in the classroom. From mask mandates to plexi-glass partitions, our top priority was and will always be the safety of our children and staff. Despite all of the hoops that we had to jump through, our ability to deliver a quality education for our students and services for the families never wavered. I attribute much of our success during this time to our amazing staff. We worked together as a team and adapted our operations to address the emerging needs of those we serve.

Another epidemic that has been challenging schools across the country even before COVID-19 is the shortage of teachers. At RCMA, we have worked hard to recruit and retain the best teachers we can find, but it continues to challenge us. We have struggled to hire highly qualified teachers for several positions at our centers, and especially our charter schools. While we are doing our best, we are in need of teachers, counselors and social workers to help us fulfill our mission.

I challenge the colleges and workforce development to help us find and train teachers to help us educate the next generation of leaders. The future of our community, and our country, depends on a highly educated workforce, and with a staff of exceptional teachers, RCMA will meet this challenge.

Thank you.

From the Board Chair

Medora Krome

Linda A. Miles

As the newly appointed Board Chair for RCMA, I want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude for the unwavering support that we receive from countless donors, groups, businesses and organizations in our state. Your contributions and commitment have played an instrumental role in our journey to create a positive and lasting impact in the communities we serve.

I am delighted to inform you that, thanks to our collective efforts, the past year has been filled with significant achievements and milestones. It fills me with optimism as RCMA continues to embrace new opportunities and is serving an even greater number of children and families with our nationally recognized educational model. We continue to build on the relationships with the families we serve, the strength of our staff, and the programs that have been transforming lives for almost 60 years!

Looking ahead, we are filled with enthusiasm and optimism for the future. We have been working diligently to refine our strategic direction and identify new avenues through which we can make an even greater impact. Our commitment to the children and families we serve remains steadfast, and we are eager to embark on new initiatives that align with the needs of the community.

The Board, consisting of community leaders and parents, is committed to supporting RCMA leadership to build capacity and align partners that will help us not only sustain our model but create transformational opportunities for children for years to come.

Child Development Outcomes

child development outcomes 1The calendar year 2021-2022 witnessed remarkable strides for RCMA’s child development centers. These centers, dedicated to fostering early childhood education and nurturing the potential of our youngest learners, achieved significant successes. During this period, RCMA served nearly 5,200 children statewide.

In looking closely at the triumphs and achievements of RCMA’s educational centers, caring for and educating children from early childhood through our K-8th charter schools, these are some of the highlights on the positive impact our model had on children’s lives and the communities we serve.

The key to RCMA’s success is our approach to learning. By incorporating the HighScope Curriculum, a comprehensive, research-based curriculum carefully designed to provide a rich academic foundation and foster child creativity and independence, our centers enhanced children’s learning experiences and made education more engaging and interactive.

Another key to our success is our teachers. They guide and encourage children to explore, interact and exercise their creative imagination through purposeful play. They support and extend each child’s learning based on their developmental levels, so that children may enter school ready and eager to learn.

Once again, for this fiscal year we focused on our 4-year-olds, preparing them to enter kindergarten. We served 710 rising kindergarteners; 72% of these children are English language learners and 10% of them had an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).

A part of HighScore Curriculum is COR Advantage, the program’s assessment system. RCMA uses it to assess early childhood development from infancy through kindergarten. We measure a child’s growth through our comprehensive child development goals, which we term School Readiness Goals and include: Approaches to Learning (APL), Social Emotional Development (SE), Perceptual Motor and Physical Health Development (PDH), Language and Literacy (LLC) and Cognition Goal (COG). COR Advantage also measures English acquisition for English language learners.

Gains are considered significant if they exceed .51 of a point over the course of a program year. Overall, our rising kindergarteners’ growth was 1.41 of a point, improving from 1.35 the previous year! COR Advantage data shows us that our rising kindergartners can, among other things: control how they express their feelings, play collaboratively with two or more children, make healthy choices, point out words that rhyme, begin to use invented spelling, identify more than 10 letters, retell stories, combine letters to form words, count more than 10 objects, name shapes, compare and create patterns, sing songs and move to the beat, sort items, make simple predictions and explain how things work. All these skills tell us our kids are ready for kindergarten.

Our 4-year-olds also excel at English language acquisition skills according to our assessment. This is yet another measure showing that we are preparing our English language learners for kindergarten and beyond.

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Charter School Expansion

child development outcomes 1In the heart of two rural communities in Florida, surrounded by vast fields of agriculture, you’ll find RCMA’s Community Academies, beacons of hope for migrant farmworker and low-income families. This year, one of the institutions expanded its services by adding a 7th grade class to its student body, with plans to add 8th grade next year. Immokalee Community Academy (ICA), in preparation for the added grades, is also adding new classroom space at its current facility in Immokalee.

With this growth came a name change as Immokalee Community School became Immokalee Community Academy. ICA is the only school in the Collier County School District to offer a Dual Language model for its students. The expansion in Immokalee also provides a reliable pathway to high school and beyond.

Both RCMA academies, ICA and Wimauma Community Academy (WCA), continue to provide quality education, support, and a brighter future for the students who walked through their doors. RCMA was the first organization in Florida to offer education and wraparound programs for both early childhood and school-age charter schools. This affords the organization to offer opportunities for children from crib to high school and beyond.

Helping to fund the growth of our charter schools, the National Charter School Growth Fund is investing $1.275 million over the next four years to help RCMA expand. The Fund identifies the country’s best public charter schools, funds their expansion, and helps to increase their impact. ICA and WCA are two of only 15 organizations in Florida found in the Fund’s portfolio.

Zulaika Quintero, principal at ICA, was honored by Florida TaxWatch as the 2021 Principal Leadership Award recipient. The award recognized nine of Florida’s most successful principals from K-12 schools across the state. Established in 2013, the Principal Leadership Awards program serves to acknowledge and reward educational leaders who are creating meaningful change in their students’ lives, while also promoting their uniquely effective practices among their peers.

These institutions not only impart knowledge but also cultivate a sense of belonging, empowerment, and aspiration in their students. Through RCMA’s holistic approach, the supportive leadership of the organization, and its dedicated educators, the academies continue to illuminate a brighter path for generations to come.

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highlights caring front line workers

WCA Curriculum Has Sky-High Results

RCMA consistently works on creating the best curriculum for its students. Thanks to a gift from Corteva Agriscience of Myakka City, Wimauma Community Academy scholars are finding that the sky is the limit for their educational aspirations.

A $5,000 gift from Corteva has funded the purchase of six DJI Mini 2 drones. RCMA IT Director Scott Olson, a Tampa resident, earned his drone license and is leading the RCMA Drone Flight Academy at the school. One goal of the club is to have members become licensed drone operators before they enter high school, to help encourage them to pursue careers that use drones. These opportunities include jobs in the film industry and TV production, agriculture, and even commercial pilots.

RCMA’s Drone Flight Academy started in 2021 with five members and one drone. The club meets once a week during the summer. In the club’s first year, students learned the basics of safe drone operation and ended the class showcasing images they had taken using the drone.

RCMA’s migrant families receive $40,000 from Collier Community Foundation

Thanks to a generous gift from the Collier Community Foundation, RCMA was able to provide $100 gift cards for essential supplies to 400 migrant families. The families, who had recently returned to southwest Florida after working on farms in the Midwest and eastern United States, used the cards to buy food and items such as diapers and cleaning products, which are not covered under the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

We are extremely grateful to the Collier Community Foundation for making this generous donation from their Relief Fund to support the most vulnerable members of our community,” says Isabel Garcia, RCMA’s executive director. “Throughout the pandemic, we have worked hard with partners like them to ensure that our 5,191 children, their families and other members of our communities have funds to pay for rent and utilities, access to healthcare like COVID testing and vaccines, and food that we distribute at our schools and child development centers.

Charter School Growth Fund Invests in RCMA

RCMA will receive a $1.275 million investment over four years from the Charter School Growth Fund. The gift will help fund the charter school in Mulberry, which will begin offering classes in 2023. The investment now makes RCMA a nationally-recognized charter school operator.

In addition to the Immokalee Community Academy and Wimauma Community Academy, RCMA will debut the Mulberry Community Academy, with classes for kindergarten and first grade, for the 2023-2024 school year. Plans are for another charter school to be launched in 2024-2025. By 2026-2027, RCMA will serve more than 1,000 students in five charter schools.

The Charter School Growth Fund is the largest funder of high performing charter schools in the country and currently has approximately 180 organizations in its portfolio. During the past three years, representatives from the Fund visited RCMA’s schools, assessed the academic achievement of its students, spoke with members of its leadership team, evaluated the non-profit’s strong finances and heard enthusiastic praise from the families RCMA serves.

Grants to RCMA are Music to Students’ Ears

Thanks to grants from Arthrex and from Trinity-by-the-Cove Episcopal Church, music is filling the hallways of Immokalee Community Academy. The funds were used to purchase new musical instruments for the scholars enrolled in music courses at the academy.

The band was launched with instruments donated by Cadence Music and purchased with a grant from Trinity-by-the-Cove Episcopal Church. The Arthrex grant helped to purchase flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, tubas, drums, cymbals, instrument stands, cleaning kits, reeds, drumsticks, music racks, stands, and a director’s podium.

More instruments are needed as the school continues to offer music as part of the curriculum. Members of the public who have instruments or other items mentioned that are in good condition are invited to donate them to RCMA by contacting Music Director Marissa Gonzalez at

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RCMA Immigration Assistance Program

Tampa Bay Lightning Names RCMA Employee a Community Hero

Much of the success of RCMA is due to a caring and committed staff and faculty. Going the extra mile for the children and families we serve is part of the foundation of the organization. It’s a proud moment when a member of the staff is recognized outside of the RCMA walls.

Such was the case for Joe Puente, a teacher’s aide and coach at RCMA’s Wimauma Community Academy (WCA). Joe was honored as a Community Hero by the Tampa Bay Lighting during a recent game. The award included a $50,000 grant to RCMA for expansion of sports and academic programs at WCA. He was recognized for the way he inspires his students, their families and the RCMA staff.

In bestowing the award, the Lightning noted that Puente came from a low-income family and epitomizes the hard work, positive attitude and commitment to the community that he instills in the students he works with.

RCMA will use the grant funds to build a permanent cover over the sports court at the school. This will create a 4,680-square-foot “Sports Pavilion” which will be used for Charter League sports, an outdoor classroom, and community hub for up to 10,000 residents in Wimauma and Hillsboro County.

RCMA Reputation Helps Keep Family Together

For many, leaving one’s home country and seeking refuge or a better life in a foreign land is a last resort. Families facing persecution, violence, or extreme poverty may see migration as their only chance for survival and a chance at a brighter future, even at the risk of family separation. In 2017, two-year-old Sandrita and her father would risk everything in order to pursue a brighter future.

Born in Guatemala, Sandrita was born into a life of turmoil as her biological mother would die from illness while Sandrita was just an infant. In search of a better life, Sandrita and her father came to the U.S. border but were separated while in ICE custody. Sandrita was detained and lived in a foster home in Texas for five months. She was eventually reunited with her grandmother, a seasonal farmworker for Pacific Tomato Growers, living in Immokalee.

Change would come a year later when RCMA would receive a call from Catholic Charities, one of RCMA’s partners. They wanted to see if this little girl would qualify for services from RCMA. Sandrita’s case was taken immediately. When she came to RCMA, she received services and support from the childcare centers and the immigration program.

Soon after, problems arose when Sandrita was placed into deportation proceedings, but the immigration assistance program at RCMA continued its tireless efforts on behalf of the girl by contacting Americans for Immigrant Justice (AIJ), a nonprofit law firm that protects and promotes the human rights of immigrants. At the first court hearing, the judge asked about the child and her care. Upon hearing that the child was under the care of RCMA, he ruled favorably, stating that being under the watchful eye of RCMA was all he needed to know.

Finally, in 2022, Sandrita was reunited with her biological father, along with her stepmother and stepbrother. Even though there are still legal hurdles to navigate, RCMA continues to serve Sandrita at our charter school. At the ripe old age of seven, she has decided that she wants to be a lawyer so she can help people, too.

highlights advocatry political relation

annual report data 2020 2021

Data from 2021-2022

annual report data 2020 2021

Breaking Barriers: Tracing a Journey from the Fields to the Boardroom

child development outcomes 1In a world where dreams are not limited by one’s background, the story of Maria Munguia is an inspiring testament to the power of perseverance and determination. At just 23 years old, Maria has overcome the challenges of her youth, was the first in her family to graduate from college, and is now embarking on her first real job.

Born in Michoacán, Mexico, Maria’s parents brought her and her younger brother to the United States in search of a better life. As migrant farm workers, they faced numerous challenges—back-breaking labor, language barriers, and social discrimination. They toiled in the fields day after day, often facing the harsh weather conditions the Florida sun can bring. Despite many challenges, they remained resilient and determined to provide a brighter future for their children.

“My mother worked as a packer while my dad picked oranges in the field,” she recalls. “It was extremely hard work, but they had one goal in mind—to provide for their children the life that they didn’t have. My parents are amazing.”

Knowing they would be working all day, her parents enrolled her and her brother at RCMA.

“I can still remember how great it was there. Everyone was so nice and always attentive. Even though I liked all of the things we did, I especially liked playtime at the big tree. Oh, and the special treats we got on Fridays!”

After leaving RCMA, she went on to attend Village Oaks, then graduated from Immokalee High. Four years later, she received her bachelor’s degree from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. That led her to her first job in the corporate world.

“During my last semester, I needed to do an internship and luckily got one from Lipman Family Farms (in Immokalee). I started doing public relations for them which eventually led to a full-time position. I’m really grateful to them for how they got me involved in everything at the company. I learned so much and that’s when I knew I wanted to work for them.”

Today, Maria is the Community Relations Coordinator for Lipman. Working their annual 5K race as well as the huge Backpack Giveaway every August are among her many responsibilities.

Of her time at RCMA, she is grateful for the care and compassion she found there as a child.

“RCMA is special to me. I think about my parents and the parents of all the children there. If those kids were not at RCMA, where would they be? Would they be safe? What kind of education would they receive? RCMA allowed my parents to focus on working and not worry about us kids. RCMA really does a great service for so many.”

Board of Directors 2021-2022

Medora Krome | President | Miami-Dade County
Michael T. Bayer | Vice President | Palm Beach County
Jaime Weisinger | Vice President | Collier County
Linda Miles-Adams | Vice-President | Hillsborough County
Sandra Hightower, PhD | Vice President | Polk County
Joaquin Perez | Vice President | Lake County
Barbara Mainster Rollason | Vice President | Lee County
Richard Pringle, P.A. | Secretary | Lee County
Larry Salustro | Treasurer | Indian River County
Wilma Robles-Melendez, PhD | Miami-Dade County
Al J. Hinson | Highlands County
Gloria Kendrick | DeSoto County
Donna Gaffney | Pinellas County
Ansberto Vallejo | Hillsborough County
Dani Higgins | Polk County
Sonia Tighe | Hillsborough County
Steven Kirk | Miami-Dade County
Susanne A. Bizerra | Polk County
Aedan J. Dowling | Manatee County
Mirta Negrini | Miami-Dade County

Parent Board Members 2021-2022

MSHS Policy Council Executive Committee

Emig De La Cruz | President
Leticia Juarez | Vice President
Rubidelia Ventura | Secretary
Erik Martinez | Treasurer
Servando Garcia | Parliamentarian

HS/EHS Policy Council Executive Committee

Viridiana Acosta | Vice President
Rebecca Morales | Secretary
Heidy Caal | Treasurer
Zurisadai Garcia | Parliamentarian

Charter School Parent Liaisons

Irma Gonzalez | Immokalee Community Academy
Maria Juarez | Wimauma Community Academy