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Breakthru Beverage Florida donates $45 million to Step Up For Students for scholarships serving lower-income Florida families

By PAUL SOOST

MIAMI – Breakthru Beverage Florida, one of the largest distributors of wines, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages in the state, announced Jan. 19 it is donating $45 million to the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program.

Breakthru’s donation will fund more than 6,880 K-12 scholarships for lower-income Florida schoolchildren for the 2017-18 school year.

Step Up For Students and Breakthru Beverage Florida celebrated Breakthru’s seven-year support of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program at Pentab Academy on Friday (Jan. 19) morning. Breakthru Beverage Florida’s contributions since 2011 has topped $254 million contribution, including this year’s $45 million donation supporting more than 6,880. Picture from left to right, Pentecostal Tabernacle Pastor S. Robert Stewart, Step Up Board member Paul Sherman, Step Up Chairman and Founder John Kirtley, Pentab Academy Principal Barbara Sharpe, Breakthru Distribution Manager Rick Thoni, Breakthru Executive Vice President Eric Pfeil, Breakthru Director of Event Management Katie Leibick, Breakthru CFO Eric Roth, Step Up President Doug Tuthill and Breakthru Vice President of Business Development Lou Muzi.

Eric Pfeil, executive vice president of Breakthru Beverage Florida, left shakes the hand of Pentab Academy fourth-grader Taneisha Micelus, while Principal Barbara Sharpe looks on Friday morning at the school in Miami. Teneisha was presenting Pfeil with thank-you notes from Step Up For Students scholars during an event celebrating Breakthru’s $45 million donation for 2017-18 and more than $254 million in contributions since 2011.

Since 2011, Breakthru Beverage has contributed more than $254 million, providing more than 45,600 scholarships.

“Communities thrive when we all do our part and work together. Breakthru Beverage is proud to support Step Up For Students and give Florida students an opportunity to reach their highest potential,” said Eric Pfeil, executive vice president of Breakthru Beverage Florida. “We’re confident these students will aim high and will be future leaders in our community. We look forward to a long relationship with Step Up For Students.”

This is the seventh consecutive year Breakthru Beverage Florida has contributed to the nonprofit organization that administers the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program for financially disadvantaged schoolchildren. The program is funded with tax-credited donations and allows parents and schoolchildren to choose between a K-12 scholarship that helps with private school tuition and fees, or one that assists with transportation costs to out-of-county public schools.

“Thanks to the support and generosity of our donors, Step Up For Students is helping parents find the best learning environment for their children that they otherwise couldn’t afford,” said Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up For Students. “On behalf of our Step Up families, we thank Breakthru Beverage for its continued commitment and generosity.”

The announcement was made at Pentab Academy in Miami, which serves prekindergarten through eighth grade students. More than half of its 260 students use Step Up For Students scholarships.

Step Up For Students and Breakthru Beverage Florida celebrated Breakthru’s seven-year support of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program at Pentab Academy on Friday (Jan. 19) morning. Breakthru Beverage Florida’s contributions since 2011 has topped $254 million contribution, including this year’s $45 million donation supporting more than 6,880. Picture from left to right, Pentecostal Tabernacle Pastor S. Robert Stewart, Step Up Board member Paul Sherman, Step Up Chairman and Founder John Kirtley, Pentab Academy Principal Barbara Sharpe, Breakthru Distribution Manager Rick Thoni, Breakthru Executive Vice President Eric Pfeil, Breakthru Director of Event Management Katie Leibick, Breakthru CFO Eric Roth, Step Up President Doug Tuthill and Breakthru Vice President of Business Development Lou Muzi.

Step Up For Students and Breakthru Beverage Florida celebrated Breakthru’s seven-year support of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program at Pentab Academy on Jan. 19. Pictured from left to right, Pentecostal Tabernacle Pastor S. Robert Stewart, Step Up Board member Paul Sherman, Step Up Chairman and Founder John Kirtley, Pentab Academy Principal Barbara Sharpe, Breakthru Distribution Manager Rick Thoni, Breakthru Executive Vice President Eric Pfeil, Breakthru Director of Event Management Katie Leibick, Breakthru CFO Eric Roth, Step Up President Doug Tuthill and Breakthru Vice President of Business Development Lou Muzi.

“At Pentab Academy, our goal is to educate the whole child – academically, emotionally and spiritually. Many of our families could not afford a private school education for their children without the help of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and Step Up For Students,” said Barbara Sharpe, Pentab Academy principal. “We are grateful to Breakthru Beverage Florida for being a leader and giving back to our community.”

For the 2017-18 school year, Step Up For Students is serving more than 100,000 students throughout Florida with tuition scholarships valued at up to $6,343 per student for kindergarten through fifth grade, $6,631 for sixth through eighth grade, and $6,920 for ninth through 12th grade. More than 1,700 private schools participate in the scholarship program statewide.

Paul Soost can be reached at psoost@sufs.org.

 

Breakthru Beverage Group celebrates $65 million contribution to Step Up For Students Scholarship Program

By PAUL SOOST

donor cornerFORT LAUDERDALEBreakthru 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.

Bob Drinon, Breakthru Beverage Group South Region president, left, presented Step Up For Students with a check Tuesday for $65 million which will provide 11,000 low-income children with scholarships to attend the K-12 school of their choice. With him from right to left are Step Up For Students graduate Denisha Merriweather, State Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami, Breakthru CFO Eric Roth and Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill.

Bob Drinon, Breakthru Beverage Group South Region president, left, presented Step Up For Students with a check Tuesday for $65 million which will provide 11,000 low-income children with scholarships to attend the K-12 school of their choice. With him from right to left are Step Up For Students graduate Denisha Merriweather, State Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami, Breakthru CFO Eric Roth and Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill.

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.