By PAUL SOOST
WEST PALM BEACH – The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC), one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the U.S., announced Wednesday a $2 million donation to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program through Step Up For Students for 329 financially disadvantaged children in Palm Beach County.
The $2 million donation will be used for scholarships during the 2016-17 school year. This is the first time that PNC has partnered with Step Up For Students, which is funded by corporationhttp://www,pnc.coms with tax-credited donations. PNC’s contribution will fund K-12 scholarships, so lower-income children can attend the school that best meets their learning needs.
The donation was announced by Cressman Bronson, PNC’s regional president of Florida East, on Wednesday while Atlantic Christian Academy‘s 11th and 12th grade Advanced Placement economics class visited the bank’s local West Palm Beach offices. During their time at PNC, the students learned about monitoring credit scores, applying for school and car loans, as well as learning about the different lines of business that keep the engine of the bank humming smoothly.
“Our support of Step Up for Students is a strategic investment in the future of Palm Beach County children,” said Bronson.
“By easing the financial burden for parents with this tax donation, we’re supporting a solid foundation for the growth and success of our local children, their families and ultimately, our Florida economy.”
The program allows recipients to choose between a scholarship to help with private school tuition and fees, or a transportation scholarship to attend an out-of-district public school.
During the 2016-17 school year, Step Up For Students is serving nearly 98,000 students throughout Florida with tuition scholarships valued up to $5,886 per student. More than 1,700 private schools participate in the scholarship program statewide.
“We are truly grateful for the generosity and support of PNC. The positive impact they will have on 329 children this year alone is truly remarkable,” said Step Up For Students CFO Joe Pfountz. “PNC is a great partner, and on behalf of our families, we thank them for their generosity.”
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking; residential mortgage banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit the website.
By PAUL SOOST
ST. PETERSBURG – Wright Flood, the largest provider of federal flood insurance policies in the U.S., recently announced its largest contribution to date to the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program. Wright Flood’s $1 million contribution will provide 164 scholarships to financially disadvantaged Florida schoolchildren.
The contribution was announced during the Step Up For Students Rising Stars Awards celebration in Pinellas County. The event, hosted at St. Petersburg Catholic High School, recognized Step Up scholars, parents and teachers for their exceptional work during the 2016-17 school year. Students were able to thank Wright Flood executives and other donors attending the event. In 2016, the corporate community contributed a total $559 million for these scholarships, helping lower-income students throughout Florida realize their dreams of attending a private school that fits their educational needs.
Wright Flood has partnered with Step Up For Students since 2008, contributing $2,850,000, which has provided a total of 516 scholarships. Step Up is a nonprofit organization that helps administer the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. The program is funded by corporations through dollar-for-dollar tax credited donations.
“Wright Flood is proud to donate annually to the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program and is impressed with the success of the students who participate,” said Patty Templeton-Jones, president of Wright Flood. “As a St. Petersburg company, we are so glad to see students in our home state benefit.”
During the 2016-17 school year, Step Up For Students is serving nearly 98,000 students throughout Florida with tuition scholarships valued up to $5,886 per student. About 1,700 private schools participate in the scholarship program statewide. Scholars may also choose a $500 scholarship to offset the cost of transportation to an out-of-district public school.
“We are always grateful to longtime corporate partners like Wright Flood who recognize the value of educational choice and who support our mission to ensure that all Florida students have access to learning environments that suit their individual needs,” said Doug Tuthill, Step Up For Students president. “We are grateful for Wright Flood’s continued support and for their commitment to the communities they serve.”
By PAUL SOOST
TAMPA – Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC), the nation’s second largest premium wine and spirits distributor, announced Monday a $55 million donation to Step Up For Students to provide scholarships for financially disadvantaged children in Florida.
The donation was announced Monday at Cristo Rey Tampa High School, a Catholic college-preparatory school and work study program for lower-income children in the Tampa Bay area. Of the 88 students attending Cristo Rey Tampa High School, 76 of them are recipients of the Step Up For Students scholarship.
RNDC State Executive Vice President Ron Barcena presented Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill with an oversized check representing the company’s $55 million contribution for the 2016-17 school year. The company’s donation, more than triple the amount of previous years, will fund more than 9,000 K-12 scholarships. The donation marks the fifth consecutive year that RNDC has partnered with Step Up, bringing its total to $115 million since 2012.
“As part of our commitment to social responsibility, we are focused on making positive differences that enrich the spirit and well-being of those in the communities we serve,” said Barcena. “We’re thrilled that this contribution will provide educational choices for lower-income Florida families, helping them set their children up for a successful future.”
From a truck driver to sales representative to human resources manager, a diverse group of RNDC associates attended the event with Barcena.
“We can’t do this without them,” Barcena said, adding it takes a strong effort from all parts of the business to be successful as a company, and the same is true for community engagement.
State Sen. Darryl Rouson attended the event at Cristo Rey to thank Republic National Distributing Company for supporting the community and lower-income students.
“Having received a private school education myself, I’m proud to see so many deserving students receiving the same learning opportunity, thanks to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program and to corporate donors like Republic National Distributing Company,” he said.
Rouson recalled a time as a boy he attended camp on the same grounds as Cristo Rey, and that he, too, went to Catholic school which led him to his successful career as a lawyer and a legislator.
“Saints walk among us daily and they come in the form of companies like Republic National Distributing Company and provide opportunities for children who need it,” Rouson said.
Steven Faison is one such student. The ninth-grader at Cristo Rey told the small crowd of guests at his school that while he went to a public magnet school, the overcrowding was troublesome for him. But private school seemed financially out of reach until he and his family learned about Cristo Rey and the scholarships through Step Up For Students.
“Education is very important to my family,” he said, “I plan to be the first in my family to attend and graduate from college.”
Step Up helps manage the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to qualified lower-income K-12 schoolchildren throughout Florida. The program allows recipients to choose between a scholarship to help with private school tuition and fees, or a transportation scholarship to attend an out-of-district public school.
“We are truly grateful for the generosity and support of Republic National Distributing Company. The positive impact they will have on more than 9,000 children this year alone is truly remarkable,” said Tuthill. “RNDC is a great partner, and on behalf of our families, we thank them for their continued support.”
During the 2016-17 school year, Step Up For Students is serving more than 95,000 students throughout Florida with tuition scholarships valued up to $5,886 per student. More than 1,600 private schools participate in the scholarship program statewide.
Step Up public relations and social media manager Lisa A. Davis contributed to this report.
By PAUL SOOST
CLEARWATER – Monin, Inc., producer of premium syrups, gourmet sauces, fruit purées and fruit smoothie mixes for coffees, iced teas, lemonades, cocktails and more, has announced a $60,000 donation to the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program.
This is the first time that Clearwater-based Monin has partnered with Step Up For Students, a nonprofit which provides K-12 scholarships for financially disadvantaged Florida children so they can attend the school that best meets their learning needs. The scholarships are funded by corporations with tax-credited donations. Monin’s donation will fund 10 scholarships.
“At Monin, we strive to provide support and improve lives for people in our local community. Through our partnership with Step Up For Students, we are making an impact on a few families through helping children become more successful,” said Bill Lombardo, Monin CEO. “Having options and choices speaks to our products at Monin,” added Greg Grabau, Monin CFO. “We are proud that our contribution will allow educational choice to families that otherwise would not have it.”
Step Up helps administer the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program allowing recipients to choose between a scholarship to help with private school tuition and fees, or a transportation scholarship to attend an out-of-district public school.
“We are grateful for the new partnership with Monin, and for their generosity and support of the scholarship program,” said Doug Tuthill, Step Up For Students president. “Thanks to our donors, we are able to provide educational options to Florida schoolchildren so they can find the best learning environment that suits their individual needs.”
During the 2016-17 school year, Step Up For Students expects to serve more than 95,000 students throughout Florida, with tuition scholarships valued up to $5,886 per student. More than 1,600 private schools participate in the scholarship program statewide.
By PAUL SOOST
BETHESDA, MD — Global restaurateur HMSHost has pledged $400,000 to Step Up For Students, a nonprofit that helps manage the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program for lower-income schoolchildren in Florida.
HMSHost’s contribution will benefit children whose educational options are limited by household income, helping underprivileged children attend a K-12 school of their parents’ choice that better fits their learning needs. Parents can choose between a scholarship toward private school tuition and fees, or one to offset the cost of transportation to an out-of-county public school.
“HMSHost values education immensely, and investing in the local communities where we operate is extremely important to our company,” said HMSHost President and CEO Steve Johnson. “The Step Up For Students organization is doing important work in Florida and it is a privilege to have formed this partnership to help set up Florida youth for success.”
The scholarship program’s funding comes from tax-credited donations from corporations like HMSHost that do business in Florida.
“Thanks to HMSHost, 66 Florida schoolchildren will have the opportunity to attend a school that fits the way they learn, regardless of where they live or their parents’ income,” said Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill. “On behalf of Step Up and our families, we thank HMSHost for its generosity and we are grateful they have chosen to support our mission.”
Florida enacted the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program in 2001 to expand educational opportunities for children of families with limited financial resources. Since its inception, the program has grown exponentially and awarded more than 95,000 scholarships to economically disadvantaged students for the 2016-17 school year.
HMSHost operates restaurants in nine Florida airports and is committed to supporting state and local communities. Visit HMSHost’s location finder to see where HMSHost operates. Further details about HMSHost’s commitment to community relations can be found here:http://www.hmshost.com/community.
The company is a world leader in creating dining for travel venues. HMSHost operates in more than 120 airports around the globe, including 44 of the 50 busiest airports in North America. The Company has annual sales in excess of $2.8 billion and employs more than 37,000 sales associates worldwide. HMSHost is a part of Autogrill Group, the world’s leading provider of food & beverage services for people on the move. With sales of around €4.3 billion in 2015, the Group operates in 31 countries and employs over 57,000 people. It manages approximately 4,200 stores in over 1,000 locations worldwide. Visit www.HMSHost.com for more information. They can also be found on Facebook at fb.com/HMSHost and on Twitter at @HMSHost.
By GEOFF FOX
ABB OPTICAL GROUP, a leading distributor of optical products in the U.S., announced today it’s kicking off a partnership with Step Up For Students by matching an anonymous $10,000 donation, and contributing through its employee giving program.
Step Up is a nonprofit organization that helps manage the income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program for lower-income families, and the state-funded Gardiner Scholarship for Florida students with certain special needs.
The combined donation of $20,000 will help Step Up maximize the impact of the scholarships by creating wraparound services which further promote students’ academic success. One such service is the Teaching and Learning Exchange, a learning management system that provides ongoing educational support services including personal learning plans for each student. Its goal is to strengthen partnerships between home and school, fostering student success.
“We are delighted to partner with Step Up to help enhance their scholars’ learning experience,” said Paul Sherman, Chief Financial Officer at ABB OPTICAL GROUP. “Our organization believes that every child deserves a chance to succeed, and we are extremely proud to support the mission of Step Up For Students.”
In addition to the match donation, ABB OPTICAL has incorporated Step Up into its employee giving program, making it an option for employees to contribute with a 100 percent match from the company.
“We are honored to be included in ABB OPTICAL GROUP’s employee giving program,” said Alissa Randall, Step Up For Students CMO “This partnership will allow us to offer additional services to the children we serve.”
For children like DeMarco McClain, an eighth-grader at Morning Star School in Tampa, Step Up’s programs have been life-changing. Due to an intellectual disability and dyslexia, DeMarco was reading on a third-grade level when his family moved to Tampa from the Bronx, New York last year.
Thanks to the compassionate, dedicated teachers at Morning Star, DeMarco, a Gardiner scholar, is now reading at his appropriate grade level and his soaring confidence has fueled a newfound ambition – to someday become a U.S. Navy SEAL.
“We are extremely pleased to have ABB OPTICAL GROUP as a partner in our quest to provide greater opportunities for Florida students like DeMarco and others who most need it,” said Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up For Students. “We are humbled by the generosity of ABB OPTICAL’s employees and proud that they share our vision.”
About ABB OPTICAL GROUP
ABB OPTICAL GROUP is a leading distributor of optical products in the United States. The company supplies nearly two-thirds of eye care professionals across the country with brand name contact lenses, fully customizable gas permeable and custom specialty soft contact lenses, ophthalmic lenses and more. The company’s Digital Eye Lab is a fully automated optical lab dedicated to freeform digital lens fabrication. ABB OPTICAL GROUP also offers practice building services such as pricing strategy tools, business reviews, annual supply staff training and e-commerce solutions. For additional information, visit ABBOptical.com.
By PAUL SOOST
FORT MYERS, Fla. – UnitedHealthcare on Tuesday donated $10 million to Step Up For Students, which will fund K-12 scholarships for nearly 1,650 financially disadvantaged school children throughout Florida.
Nicholas Zaffiris, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of South Florida, announced the donation at a scholarship celebratory event at Summit Christian School in Fort Myers, where 42 students were awarded scholarships for the 2016-2017 school year. This is UnitedHealthcare’s seventh year participating in Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program through Step Up For Students, bringing the company’s total contribution to $69 million since 2009.
Step Up For Students is a nonprofit that provides scholarships for children in grades K-12, so they may attend a private school or an out-of-district public school that best fits their individual learning needs. During the 2016-17 school year, Step Up For Students expects to serve more than 94,000 lower-income students throughout Florida with tuition scholarships valued at up to $5,886 per student
“UnitedHealthcare is honored to partner with Step Up for Students to support scholarships that ensure more Florida students have access to quality education,” Zaffiris said. “We value the role schools can play in helping students understand the importance of good health as they evolve to become productive adults.”
Following the scholarship donation announcement, students at Summit Christian School traded in their pencils for spatulas during a healthy snacks cooking demonstration sponsored by UnitedHealthcare and Step Up For Students.
Local culinary instructor and owner of Method Teaching Kitchen Melissa McCartney showed seventh- and eighth-graders how to prepare tasty after-school snacks that can satisfy hunger and give them energy for extra-curricular activities and homework time. The program was designed to show the connection among nutrition, physical fitness and learning.
“The Step Up For Students Scholarship Program is positively shaping the future of our state’s children, and we could not do this important work without donors like UnitedHealthcare,” said Doug Tuthill, Step Up For Students president. “We are grateful for its support and generosity, and for the impact that UnitedHealthcare is making in our community.”
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @myUHC on Twitter.
By PAUL SOOST|
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS – Synchrony Financial, a premier consumer financial services company with an 80-year heritage, has announced a $1 million donation to Step Up For Students to provide scholarships for financially disadvantaged children in Orlando.
The donation marks the first time that Synchrony Financial has partnered with Step Up For Students. Synchrony Financial’s contribution will fund about 165 K-12 scholarships for financially disadvantaged Florida children so they may attend a private K-12 school, or an out-of-district public school. The scholarships provide an opportunity for recipients to find a school that fits their individual needs and lead them toward a more prosperous future
“We’re pleased that this donation will provide children with a real opportunity for educational success. Synchrony Financial is committed to addressing the needs of today’s working families, which includes providing enriching and safe places for kids to be while their parents are working,” said Margaret Keane, Synchrony Financial president and CEO. “Educational opportunities are crucial to opening doors to hope for a better future. Working with Step Up For Students is a true embodiment of our purpose statement to improve the success of every business we serve and the quality of each life we touch.”
Step Up For Students helps administer the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to qualified lower-income K-12 schoolchildren throughout Florida. The program allows recipients to choose between a scholarship to help with private school tuition and fees, or a transportation scholarship to attend an out-of-district public school.
“We are truly grateful to have Synchrony Financial as a partner in our mission to ensure that lower-income children have choices in their education,” said Doug Tuthill, Step Up president. “With their help, we are providing access to Florida’s children to an educational environment that best fits their learning need, and will also positively affect our communities in the future.”
During the 2016-17 school year, Step Up For Students expects to serve more than 91,000 students throughout Florida, with tuition scholarships valued up to $5,886 per student. More than 1,600 private schools participate in the scholarship program statewide.
Synchrony Financial has had a presence in the Orlando area since 1983, and recently increased its commitment to central Florida this summer with the opening of a second site.
The original location in Longwood is primarily a customer support site. The second location, in Altamonte Springs, will provide customer service and collections support across all of Synchrony Financial’s business platforms. The 102,000 square-foot space features training and conference rooms with advanced technologies including telepresence capabilities, an on-site dining venue and employee fitness center.
Synchrony Financial employees in the Orlando area have provided nearly 300 volunteer hours so far in 2016 with a number of local nonprofit agencies.
About Synchrony Financial
Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF) is one of the nation’s premier consumer financial services companies. Its roots in consumer finance trace back to 1932, and today the company is the largest provider of private label credit cards in the United States based on purchase volume and receivables*. Synchrony Financial provides a range of credit products through programs we have established with a diverse group of national and regional retailers, local merchants, manufacturers, buying groups, industry associations and healthcare service providers to help generate growth for our partners and offer financial flexibility to our customers. Through its partners’ more than 350,000 locations across the United States and Canada, and its websites and mobile applications, the company offers its customers a variety of credit products to finance the purchase of goods and services. Synchrony Financial offers private label and co-branded Dual Card™ credit cards, promotional financing and installment lending, loyalty programs and FDIC-insured savings products through Synchrony Bank. More information can be found at www.synchronyfinancial.com, facebook.com/SynchronyFinancial, www.linkedin.com/company/synchrony-financial and twitter.com/SYFNews.
*Source: The Nilson Report (May 2016, Issue # 1087) – based on 2015 data.
By PAUL SOOST
MIAMI – Step Up For Students and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (Southern Glazer’s), the nation’s leading wine and spirits distributor, announced today that Southern Glazer’s has committed $125 million to the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program for the 2016-17 school year.
Southern Glazer’s contribution — the largest in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program’s 15-year history — will fund more than 20,000 scholarships in the 2016-17 school year. This is Southern Glazer’s seventh consecutive year of participating in the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program, bringing the company’s total to a record-breaking $315 million since 2010.
“Southern Glazer’s is committed to being a leader in our community, and as such, it gives us great pride knowing that we are providing scholarships for thousands of deserving children for the next school year,” said Southern Glazer’s CEO, Wayne E. Chaplin. “We are thrilled that our contribution will offer parents more educational options and the opportunity to send their children to a school that best meets their learning needs.”
Step Up For Students helps administer the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to qualified lower-income K-12 schoolchildren throughout Florida. Scholarships are funded by corporations that receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their contributions. The program allows recipients to choose between a scholarship to help with private school tuition and fees, or a transportation scholarship to attend an out-of-district public school.
During the 2016-17 school year, Step Up For Students expects to serve more than 91,000 students throughout Florida.
“Southern Glazer’s is an amazing partner and champion of the school choice movement. Their extreme generosity will touch the lives of more than 20,000 children this year alone, and their families across the state of Florida,” said Doug Tuthill, Step Up For Students president. “When I think of the impact this donation has, and the lives that will be changed because of it, I am truly humbled. On behalf of Step Up and the families we serve, we deeply appreciate Southern Glazer’s unwavering support.”
About Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is North America’s largest wine and spirits distributor, and the preeminent data insights company for alcoholic beverages. The Company has operations in 44 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Canada, and the Caribbean and employs more than 20,000 team members. Southern Glazer’s urges all retail customers and adult consumers to market, sell, serve, and enjoy its products responsibly. For more information visit www.SouthernGlazers.com.
About Step Up For Students
Step Up For Students is a nonprofit organization that helps manage the income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Students who qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch program, or those who are homeless or in foster or out-of-home care, may qualify. It provides tuition assistance to the private school of their parents’ choice or transportation help to an out-of-district public school. Since 2001, Step Up has awarded nearly 480,000 scholarships.
During the 2015-16 school year, Step Up For Students served more than 78,000 students throughout Florida, with tuition scholarships valued up to $5,667 per student. More than 1,600 private schools participate in the scholarship program statewide.
Step Up also helps administer the state-funded Gardiner Scholarship, formerly known as Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts (PLSA), for Florida students with certain special needs. With the Gardiner Scholarship, recipients may use the funds for a variety of approved services including private tutoring, occupational therapy, instructional materials and other services.
By PAUL SOOST
FORT LAUDERDALE – Breakthru Beverage Florida, one of the largest distributors of wines, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages in the state, Tuesday celebrated its $65 million contribution to Step Up For Students at its Florida headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale.
Breakthru’s donation will provide K-12 scholarships to more than 11,100 low-income Florida schoolchildren for the 2015-16 school year.
This is the fifth year Breakthru Beverage Florida, formerly known as Premier Beverage, has contributed to the nonprofit organization that administers the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The program is funded by corporations that receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits for their contributions.
“A quality education can open the doors to endless possibilities. Breakthru is proud to play a role in providing opportunities for financially-disadvantaged children in Florida through our support of Step Up For Students,” said Bob Drinon, Breakthru Beverage Group South Region president. “We hope that more children will have the opportunity to learn in an environment that best meets their academic needs.”
Nearly 78,000 low-income students are using income-based Step Up scholarships for the 2015-16 school year, with tuition scholarships valued up to $5,677 per student. More than 1,600 private schools participate in the scholarship program, known as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, statewide.
“This program is about empowering people to have choices. It’s about empowering low-income families to be able to match their child with the learning environment that best meets their needs,” said Doug Tuthill, Step Up president. “We are so grateful to have Breakthru Beverage partnering with our mission to provide equal opportunity for all people. We couldn’t do this without their support and generosity.”
Denisha Merriweather, a Step Up scholarship alumna, was a featured speaker at the event. Step Up helped Merriweather attend the school of her choice. “Without the scholarship, I probably would have dropped out of school,” said Merriweather. “Today, I am proud to say, after all the challenges I faced, I am the first person in my family, my whole family, to graduate from college.” Today, she is a college graduate and is continuing her education to earn her master’s degree.
During the event, Drinon and Tuthill also spoke about the scholarships changing the lives of children throughout Florida. Since the scholarship program began in 2001, nearly 480,000 scholarships have been awarded to low-income students like Denisha.
Breakthru Beverage Florida, formerly known as Premier Beverage, is one of the largest distributors of wines, spirits and other beverages in Florida. A member of the Breakthru Beverage Group, Breakthru Florida services a variety of accounts including hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, grocery and retail stores from offices and distribution facilities throughout the state. Breakthru Beverage Group was formed by joining substantial holdings of The Charmer Sunbelt Group and Wirtz Beverage Group. The company employs more than 7,000 associates and with its affiliates have operations in 19 markets across the country and Canada.