January President’s Pen: A Great Opportunity If You’re Planning to Help

What if you could multiply by FOUR times the already generous amount of money you donate each year to CRSM students without a net additional cost to you?  The Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program (aka “Invest In Kids”) effectively acts like a matching gift program for your donations.  For every $10.00 you donate to the program, you receive a $7.50 tax credit off the total amount you owe the state in income taxes. If you normally donate $1,000 to CRSM, you could donate $4,000 this year and get a $3,000 credit against what you owe the state of Illinois on your income taxes.  These days, it seems more painful than ever to pay income taxes in Illinois and let others decide how it’s spent.   In a sense, Illinois is giving you a credit against your tax liability for investing in the students at CRSM.  By creating this program, our legislators are saying that CRSM is such a good investment, they will reward you by lowering your tax obligation by 75% of whatever you donate to us through the program.   Unfortunately, like most things that come out of government, it is not the easiest process.  There are several hoops to jump through and you must be careful if you want your donations to specifically benefit CRSM students.

Here is how it works:

Step 1 – Go on line and request a “Letter ID” from My Tax Illinois through the Illinois Department of Revenue.

Step 2 – Once you get your “Letter ID,” return to My Tax Illinois to set up an account and apply for approval to make a contribution.  When you apply, be sure to indicate that you will be donating to Region 2.  You will have a choice of Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGO).  CRSM works with two SGOs.  Choose either Big Shoulders Fund or Empower Illinois.

Step 3 – Once your request is approved (typically within three days), you’re my Tax Illinois account will receive a “Contribution Authorization Certificate” (CAC).   You have 60 days from the issuance of your CAC, to then go to the SGO website and make your donation.

Step 4 – Go on line to the Big Shoulders Fund SGO website (or Empower Illinois, whichever you selected through My Tax Illinois) and make your contribution.  At this point be sure to direct your contribution specifically to Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep.  While corporations cannot specify a particular school and some individuals choose to make general donations to the program or to a group of particular schools (like the schools of Archdiocese of Chicago), the only scholarships CRSM students received last year were from funds specifically directed to CRSM. You must provide a copy of the CAC to the SGO.  When you direct your funds to CRSM, please also specify that the SGO may release your name to CRSM so that we are aware of your contribution.  Otherwise your donation will be categorized as “anonymous” and we will never be able to thank you personally!

Step 5 – Within 30 days of receiving your contribution, the SGO will issue you a Certificate of Receipt (COR) through your MyTax Illinois account.  You will use the COR when you file your 2019 taxes and take 75% of your donation off the amount you owe the state!

If you are still reading, I have VERY good news.  Kristen Watson from CRSM is our designated expert on this program.  She has contributed herself and helps walk others through the process.  Kristen can be reached at (224) 219-9712 or kwatson@cr-sm.org. Also, we have an instructional video on our website at:

Last year, CRSM students received over $1 million in IL Tax Credit Scholarships.  Because all our students are low-income, 100% are eligible for scholarships.  Only ¼ of our students received scholarships last year.  Many (if not all) student recipients would not have otherwise been able to attend our school.  Over $700,000 of those scholarships last year came from two generous donors whose contributions were a one-time proposition.  We are very concerned about those students ability to remain at CRSM if they do not receive a scholarship again this year.  We also have 300 more students besides them who could benefit.

While you can make a donation anytime before December 31, 2019 for your 2019 tax credit, the sooner you act, the sooner our families will know they have scholarships and can make a decision about attending CRSM.  We would love to see as many donations as possible before the end of April.

Please take advantage of this program, please help more talented students get the chance to attend CRSM, and please revel in knowing your generosity can have FOUR TIMES the impact for CRSM by participating in Illinois’ Invest in Kids program.  Thank you always for your support.  CRSM is a great investment for transforming lives that will transform the lives of others!