By PAUL SOOST
TAMPA — Johnson Brothers of Florida, one of the top beverage distributors in the state, announced on April 25 a contribution of $9.6 million to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program through Step Up For Students, serving lower-income children in Florida.
Johnson Brothers’ donation will allow more than 1,468 K-12 students to attend the school of their choice for the 2017-18 school year.
“Finding the right school for your child to attend is important to every family, regardless of their income and the neighborhood they live in. Johnson Brothers is thrilled to support a program that so positively affects the lives of Florida children,” said Frank Galante, president of Johnson Brothers of Florida. “We are proud of the difference we are making in our community and look forward to our continued partnership with Step Up For Students.”
The donation was announced during Johnson Brothers sales meeting held at their corporate office in Tampa. Brenda Budd, principal of St. Joseph Catholic School, attended the event and shared a few stories of families at her school who have benefited from the scholarship program.
“We at St. Joseph Catholic School have benefited greatly from the generosity of Johnson Brothers of Florida. Their commitment to ensure students can attend their school of choice has allowed us to educate children that would not have the opportunity to receive a private Catholic education,” said Principal Brenda Henson Budd. “Johnson Brothers of Florida and Step Up for Students is helping our students to be on the pathway to achieving our school goals of College and Heaven.”
This is the sixth consecutive year Johnson Brothers of 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.
“We are truly grateful to have Johnson Brothers as a long-time partner in our mission to ensure that lower-income children have choices in their education. With their help, more Florida families are able to access an educational environment that best fits their child’s learning needs,” said Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up For Students. “On behalf of Step Up and the families we service, we thank you for your continued commitment and generosity.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step Up is a state-approved nonprofit scholarship funding organization that helps administer the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC), which provides K-12 scholarships legislatively and related support to give disadvantaged families the freedom to choose the best learning options for their children. For the 2015-16 school year, Step Up is serving nearly 78,000 in more than 1,500 private schools throughout the state.
“The most impactful way to improve a child’s life and future is through education. IBERIABANK Corporation first partnered with Step Up For Students in 2015 with a $1.5 million contribution,” said Daryl G. Byrd, president and CEO of IBERIABANK Corporation. “We are proud to share that over the last two years, our donation has helped provide 583 scholarships for low-income Florida students.”
“We are grateful for the generosity of our donors, and for their commitment to help provide Florida families the opportunity to choose the educational environment that best suits their children’s needs,” said Doug Tuthill, president for Step Up For Students. “IBERIABANK is a wonderful partner and we are thankful for their continued support in making dreams come true for families across the state.”
IBERIABANK Corporation is a financial holding company with 298 combined offices, including 198 bank branch offices and three loan production offices in Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, 22 title insurance offices in Arkansas and Louisiana, and mortgage representatives in 65 locations in 10 states. The Company has eight locations with representatives of IBERIA Wealth Advisors in four states, and one IBERIA Capital Partners, L.L.C. office in New Orleans. Iberia Financial Services, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of IBERIABANK and has 22 registered offices with representatives in seven states. Follow IBERIABANK on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
About Step Up For Students
Step Up For Students is a 501(c) 3 that helps manage the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Students who qualify for free-or reduced-price lunch, or those who are homeless or in foster or out-of-home care may qualify. Since 2001, Step Up has awarded more than 479,000 scholarships.
Step Up also helps administer the state-funded Gardiner Scholarship (formerly called Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts) 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.
For more information, visit: http://www.StepUpForStudents.org
Couche-Tard is the leader in the Canadian convenience store industry. In the United States, it is the largest independent convenience store operator in terms of number of company-operated stores with over 8,000 convenience stores throughout North America and covering 41 states in the U.S. In addition, about 4,700 stores are operated by independent operators under the Circle K banner in 14 other countries.
“Circle K Florida always looks for those organizations that are able to make a difference in the communities where we operate,” said David Morgan, vice president of Circle K’s Florida division. “We want our contributions to have a positive impact directly in our local neighborhoods. Supporting causes that impact our youth through education is a very worthy ways for Circle K to give back.”
Circle K’s donation will fund about 350 K-12 income-based scholarships, so financially disadvantaged children can attend the school that best meets their learning needs. Corporations that donate to the scholarship program receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their contributions. About 78,000 students are using the scholarship to attend the school of their choice this year.
“Circle K is thrilled to help hundreds of Florida students through our participation in this program, and we are proud of that,” Morgan said. “Through our support, more Florida children will find success in their educational experience.”
“We are so grateful to bring on Circle K as a partner,” said Step Up President Doug Tuthill. “Each year our fundraising cap grows and, thankfully, with the help of our longtime donors and new partners like Circle K, we can continue serving more students across Florida.”
Known for its red K emblazoned in a white circle logo, good service, great product variety and the popular Polar Pop cups, Circle K is no stranger to philanthropy.
“Circle K Florida will continue its relationship with the American Red Cross, another of our cause marketing partners,” Morgan said. “The American Red Cross is an organization that proudly supports families and local communities within our markets.”
It’s that same value that makes Step Up such a good fit for Circle K.
“Opening up learning opportunities through the scholarship program and allowing disadvantaged families the freedom to choose the best learning options for their children is certainly a great way to ensure the future success of our youth,” Morgan said. “Circle K Florida would hope that these opportunities provide the scholars the foundation to becoming our future business and civic leaders.” In 1999, a franchise program was introduced to support operators looking to build a business with a leading convenience store brand. Now there are more than 7,000 Circle K sites operating in the US and thirteen other countries.
Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) is more than a health insurance company, it’s a healthy living leader that is committed to enriching the communities it serves both in serving its customers’ needs and promoting healthy lifestyles, as well as giving back to the communities through philanthropic opportunities.
The company, based in Louisville, Ky., is so committed to healthy living that it has recently introduced a “bold goal” to meet in only five years: Humana 2020, an initiative to help communities it serves to be 20 percent healthier by 2020.
“That’s an ambitious goal,” said Humana spokesman Mitch Lubitz. “And it’s one we’re committed to achieve.”
In addition to five other key Humana business markets throughout the country, this “bold goal” is set for the Tampa Bay area, where Humana employs nearly 4,000 associates and serves more than a half a million members in what is considered one of the company’s biggest Medicare and Medicaid markets. For this community initiative to be successful, Lubitz said, Humana must work closely with community thought leaders from government offices, community organizations and beyond to identify the health needs throughout the region.
Part of community wellness, Lubitz said, is education. Not just educating people to choose healthy lifestyles, but making sure children grow up with a solid educational foundation. Humana has worked with public school districts, including Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, through grants, to help foster healthy living among youngsters.
Humana first partnered with Step Up For Students in 2010 to support the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program to fund scholarships for K-12 low-income schoolchildren so they can find the best school for their learning needs. Since then, Humana has contributed $7 million, including its 2015 tax-credited donation of $3 million, which will provide about 500 scholarships.
“Education is an integral part of the conversation,” Lubitz said. “This is a great example of why we want to foster that mission of helping our youth and children to become better educated and have a healthier life. It’s very clear that Step Up For Students delivers positive results for the students and the community, and that’s something that makes sense to be part of as a major area employer and as a member of the Tampa Bay community.”
Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill said he is grateful to Humana and the partnership, especially since the two organizations’ programs help many people in the same populations.
“We are so thrilled with this partnership, and we think it will continue to be a strong one since programs like Medicaid benefit the same low-income families in which we are assisting in their children’s, and in many cases, grandchildren’s education,” Tuthill said. “We couldn’t be more pleased to work with Humana.”
Editor’s Note: Step Up For Students would not be able to provide life-changing scholarships to low-income Florida children without the help of our generous corporate donors. Occasionally, we highlight the corporations that partner with Step Up to give K-12 schoolchildren educational options beyond those dictated by a student’s ZIP code, or income level through, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Today, we highlight Allegiant Travel Company.
Allegiant Travel Company specializes in linking travelers in small, underserved cities to world-class leisure destinations through its low-cost, high-efficiency, all-jet passenger airline. The company also offers other travel-related products such as hotel rooms, rental cars, and attraction tickets.
The company, which became publicly traded in 2006 under Allegiant Travel Company (NASDAQ: ALGT), also offers low-cost travel packages and has a strong presence in Florida.
“It allows working-class folks to use their local airport and fly and travel in a way that was previously economically not in their reach,” said Brian Davis, Allegiant’s vice president of marketing. “Most of the travelers we serve are budget-conscious vacation travelers, who come to town on Allegiant and are able to have a fantastic trip that’s within their budget.”
Since 1997, that’s exactly what Allegiant has been doing and now serves 107 cities throughout the U.S. Florida has become a vital part of Allegiant’s operations, serving Orlando, Jacksonville, Palm Beach, Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach and St. Petersburg-Clearwater, where Allegiant recently added several new flights. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the airline’s first flight to Florida at the Orlando-Sanford International Airport.
“As our presence has grown in Florida, it’s important to give back to a community that has served us so well, and we feel we have very much become a part of over the years,” Davis said.
This was a key factor in the company deciding to partner this year with Step Up For Students, which helps administer the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program for low-income students. Allegiant has contributed $1 million to Step Up. The donation will provide about 170 students with scholarships worth up to $5,677 for the 2015-16 school year to help with tuition at participating private schools. Or, students may instead choose a scholarship worth up to $500 to help with transportation costs to out-of-county public schools.
“This demonstrates our commitment to the state of Florida,” Davis said. “This helps us go beyond just flying into the state. We are able to give back through education. Education is so important and that’s why we’re investing in it.”
Allegiant’s primary charitable focus has been working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It was an ideal fit, Davis said, because the majority of wishes require travel, something Allegiant could easily provide. On a smaller scale, the company has worked with local schools near its headquarters in Las Vegas, organizing book bag drives and other activities. Partnering with Step Up was the next step that made sense, he said.
“We are so grateful to Allegiant for their generous contribution and commitment in helping us provide educational options to students in Florida who need it most,” said Step Up President Doug Tuthill. “We’re excited about this upcoming school year and watching our scholarship programs grow with new donors like Allegiant. There’s no better investment than in the education of our children.”