Helping Students Excel: Celebrating Illinois Tax Credit Scholarships

Public officials, students, parents and scholarship donors gathered on Oct. 14 2021 at CRSM to celebrat the power of the innovative statewide programs that gives low-income students the opportunity to attend quality, private schools that meet their diverse learning needs.

Alex Leva, a senior at CRSM, understands the impact of the Illinois Tax Credits Scholarships. Her words speak volumes about the students and families impacted in Waukegan and surrounding communities.

“The tax credit scholarships are very important to us,” Alex said speaking as the interpreter for her father, Arthur Leva.

Another parent, Leticia Espino, mother of two daughters at Blessed Trinity in Waukegan, said: “We couldn’t afford to send the girls to a Catholic school,” said Leticia Espino, mother of two daughters at Blessed Trinity in Waukegan.

CRSM President Preston Kendall thanked the representatives who attended the evening program. They included representatives from Big Shoulders, Empower Illinois. Fr. Brendan Curran, O.P. organizer of the Resurrection Project in Pilsen. Senator Adriane Johnson (D) 30th District who joined us and to Representative Rita Mayfield, a champion of the scholarship fund.

“Thank you so much for the opportunities you are creating for students and for driving for ways to make education more affordable,” said Kendall. “All of you gathered tonight are testimony to how important the Illinois Tax Credit is for students and families.”

Juan Rangel, Strategy Director for Empower Illinois, showcased a check for $4,458, 530.82 in scholarships presented to students in the Waukegan, North Chicago, Gurnee- area district from Empower Illinois.

The program will go will go to at least 2023, giving supporters more time to try to make it permanent.

The program works like this: Illinois taxpayers, either individuals or corporations, can donate money to non-profit scholarship granting organizations, then take a 75% tax credit on their state income taxes. That means someone who donates $1,000 would get a $750 tax credit.

The scholarship granting organizations grant partial or full scholarships to students from low- and middle-income families at recognized schools, giving priority to families with the most financial need. Individual donors can direct that their donations be used at specific schools or groups of schools.

CRSM and other Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago work with Empower Illinois and the Big Shoulders Fund, both recognized scholarship-granting organizations, and the archdiocese has worked to encourage people to donate.

In addition, the Archdiocese of Chicago, Big Shoulders Fund and Empower Illinois provide thousands of scholarships and other assistance to schools each year funded by traditional donations.