Stakeholders Seek to Connect More Donors to Illinois Families for School Choice Scholarship Program | Granite City News







Supporters of the Illinois Invest In Kids Scholarship Program may seek to make the program more accessible to families and donors.

The program allows donors to earn a 75% tax credit on donations to fund scholarships for qualified families statewide.

Anthony Holter, president of scholarship-giving organization Empower Illinois, said 100% of scholarships are need-based, with 70% having the most financial need.

“The average household income is $43,000 and these families are once again receiving scholarships to attend the best suited private schools in every community across the state and every legislative district,” Holter told the revenue and finance committee. from Illinois House this week.

He said since the program began in 2018, 37,000 scholarships have been awarded from more than $285 million in donations.

Illinois Catholic Conference executive director Bob Gilligan also testified. He said the program can be modified to make it easier for donors.

“It’s been a challenge for us to try to persuade people,” Gilligan said. “It’s not like writing a check. It’s very complicated. And, there must be monitoring.

The groups said they will continue to work with lawmakers and stakeholders to better refine the program to connect more donors to more families for choice in education.

There were opponents to the program. Cynthia Riseman Lund, representing the state’s public school teachers’ unions, opposed any expansion, saying tax credits divert money from public schools.

“[The teachers’ unions] support the elimination of the Investing in Children program. It is due to end in 2025 and we will call for the program to be phased out even sooner,” Lund said.

But, State Rep. Curtis Tarver, D-Chicago, pushed against Lund’s assertion that the measure only helps wealthy donors with tax credits.

“Sometimes it’s characterized as just a program that benefits millionaires and we overlook the beneficiaries who are the students,” Tarver said.

Tarver said more than a third of donors are not wealthy, earning between $100,000 and $250,000.

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