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Step Up For Students hits milestone of reimbursing $1.2 million in a week for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts program

By Lisa A. Davis

plsa-princess-header_faith_barWithin the past week, Step Up For Students has sent three payment files to the bank to reimburse Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts (PLSA) parents and guardians, providers and schools for expenses.

There were more than 1,000 reimbursement requests in these files totaling $1.2 million.

“Since the implementation of PLSA, this is the most that we have paid in a week,” said Jasmine Johnson, PLSA claims manager for Step Up For Students

Several factors led to the milestone for the program that serves children, ages 3 up to 22,  with certain special needs in Florida.

“The new IT systems that Step Up For Students built from scratch, the policies and procedures that we have enhanced, our reflections on lessons learned, and the dedication from each employee on every team got us to this point,” said Gina Lynch, Step Up’s senior director of Operations and Organizational Improvement. “We can and should be proud of what we are doing for our PLSA families.”

It seems the milestone led to an outpouring of praise on Step Up’s Facebook page with more than a dozen parents writing 5-star reviews in recent days, as well as expressing their appreciation for the PLSA program and recent funding.

“The ability to get what is needed to teach my child with special needs feels like giving her a future,” wrote PLSA parent Lisa Cali on Step Up’s Facebook page. “Learning what she needs, when, where and with the tools she needs to accurately absorb the information – it’s changed our life.”

The Florida Legislature created the state-funded PLSA program in 2014, and it’s the second year Step Up has helped administer the program for students with certain special needs. Once the program was signed into law, Step Up had only weeks to create and set up a system to run the program and staff members have been working hard to make improvements ever since.

“Our PLSA families have played a big role in our successes by alerting us when things aren’t working and letting us know what works, too,” said Lynch. “We thank them for their help and their patience. It is our greatest goal to serve our families the best we can.”

Step Up For Students’ work with both the PLSA and the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, a scholarship program for K-12 low-income children, has made the nonprofit organization a national model for the programs it runs.

“This is a significant honor,” Lynch said.

For more information about Step Up’s scholarship programs, visit www.