Since the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship was created by lawmakers in 2001, more than 400,000 K-12 scholarships have been awarded to low-income children seeking access to additional educational options. These scholarships would not have been possible without the support of corporations who have donated more than $2 billion to the program.
This year alone, about 78,000 students are using scholarships administered by Step Up For Students, a state-approved scholarship funding organization, to attend the schools of their choice.
“While those numbers and our accomplishments helping children are impressive, Step Up For Students wants to do even more,” said Alissa Randall, Step Up’s chief marketing officer and vice president of advancement. “We don’t want to only hand out scholarships, we want increase the value of those scholarships by creating programs and tools that enhance our students’ overall academic experience.”
Florida Tax Credit Scholarships are funded through corporations that have state tax liabilities in Florida. Corporations may donate up to 100 percent of certain corporate tax liabilities and earn dollar-for-dollar tax credits for their contribution to state-approved scholarship funding organizations such as Step Up. By law, Step Up must use at least 97 percent of the corporate contributions for scholarship funds; up to 3 percent of the remaining funds may go to administrative costs.
This small administrative fund has never been sufficient to enable Step Up to provide the level of service families and schools deserve, which is why Step Up has always raised private funds to support its efforts, Step Up leaders say. This is why Step Up is redoubling these fundraising efforts through a new initiative called Stepping Beyond, Boosting Success.
“This new fundraising effort will help students maximize the impact of their Step Up scholarship and help them reach their full potential,” said Randall, who is leading this effort. “These additional dollars will help provide much-needed support services for our scholars. We plan on providing tools for students, parents, and teachers to work together to enhance the child’s success.”
This new fundraising initiative will seek out philanthropic individuals, corporations and foundations that cannot donate through the tax credit program, but have an interest in Step Up’s quest to provide more and better educational options for all disadvantaged children.
Through its Office of Student Learning, Step Up offers educational support services and professional development to strengthen partnerships between home and school. As part of the Stepping Beyond, Boosting Success initiative, Step Up will build upon these initiatives to better ensure all scholarship students are receiving the quality education that best meets their needs.
“’Every child deserves a chance to succeed’ is one of our most important values,” Randall said. “We want to bolster that chance.”