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The scholarship granting organization (SGO)’s report offers data on the successful third year of the five-year pilot Tax Credit Scholarship Program


January 28, 2021 (CHICAGO)–Empower Illinois is excited to release its year three report, which details the organization’s success and highlights the undeniable need for the Tax Credit Scholarship Program in Illinois. Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Empower Illinois awarded 5,505 scholarships to low-income and middle-class families across the state, raising over $41 million dollars, and pursuing key education policy initiatives to strengthen public and private school options for all Illinois students. 


The report highlights the significant demand for the program and breaks down scholarship applicant and awardee data by region. Key findings in the report include: 


Scholarship data: 
  • Empower Illinois awarded 5,505 scholarships in 2020.
  • It would require more than $205,405,200 to award a scholarship to each of the 32,604 students in line for the 2020-2021 school year. 
  • The average scholarship amount was $6,297. 


Awardee demographics: 
  • Nearly 69 percent of scholarship recipients qualify for the Federal free or reduced-price meal program. One in eight scholarship recipients has unique learning needs. 
  • The average family household income of a scholarship recipient is $38,403, or 153 percent of the federal poverty level.


Donation analysis:
  • Since the program began, Empower Illinois has raised over $127 million, including $41 million in 2020, to support education options for low-income and working-class families.
  • The Tax Credit Scholarship Program has raised over $167 million statewide in the last three years.
  • The average donation to Empower Illinois is $10,282, the median donation is $3,000, and the most common donation is $1,000.


“It is undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic acutely impacted hundreds of thousands of families throughout Illinois, and that these effects have made the pursuit of a high-quality, best-fit education for their children even more challenging,” said Anthony Holter, President of Empower Illinois. “In 2020, we all faced unprecedented difficulties. The challenges of this year, however, also brought into focus our mission and the moral imperative to create opportunity for Illinois’ kids.”

The fourth year of the program is underway, with over 23,000 students already in line for a Fall 2021-Spring 2022 scholarship. 


To read the full report visit:

About Empower Illinois

Empower Illinois is a statewide education policy and research nonprofit and Scholarship Granting Organization created to serve Illinois’ children through the state’s tax credit scholarship program. Children only get one chance at a quality education, and Empower Illinois’ mission is to expand quality education options for low-income and working-class families of Illinois.

Illinois’ Invest in Kids tax credit scholarship program was created in 2017 to benefit children whose educational options are limited by household income or ZIP Code. Empower Illinois serves as a conduit for processing donations, scholarship awards and program compliance for approximately 91 percent of all recognized private schools in Illinois.

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