Since 2018, the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship (TCS) Program has awarded more than 37,000 scholarships totaling more than $280 million. The program is a proven success with bipartisan voter support but must be renewed or extended by the Illinois legislature in order to continue.
WHAT IS THE “SUNSET”?
When the Invest in Kids Act passed in 2017, it created the TCS program as a five-year pilot program. Despite many attempts to cut or eliminate the program, Empower Illinois and the TCS Community protected the program. It was even granted a one-year extension in 2021. However, it will end in 2023 if not extended again or made permanent.
Empower Illinois and the broad and diverse coalition that makes up the TCS Community are ready to fight on behalf of this program again in order to help create stability for current scholarship families and ensure that equitable education opportunities continue to grow for students across the state.
Why should the program’s sunset be removed?
By many metrics, the TCS program successfully supports Illinois’ most vulnerable and helps kids access their best-fit school.
- 100% of scholarships are need-based, and the average Empower Illinois scholarship recipient’s family household income is $43,000 or 165% of the federal poverty level
- Tax credit scholarships through Empower Illinois serve a greater percentage of Black, Indigenous, or students of color than the K-12 population of Illinois, with greater than 55% of scholarships reaching BIPOC students
- 92% of private schools across the state, both secular and religious, participate in the program and rely on it to help keep their school communities intact and growing
- Since the program began in 2018 through 2021, SGOs have increased scholarship awarding by 25% and increased fundraising by 22%
- Family demand for the program remains astronomically higher than available scholarships (with still only 21% of demand met in 2021) indicating even with program growth, more Illinois families continue to seek out this program.
How will removing the sunset create stability for Illinois’ families and school communities?
Thousands of families rely on tax credit scholarships to help their kids access their best-fit schools. Without the program sunset being removed, kids and families will face perpetual uncertainty or be unable to attend their best-fit school.
Without these scholarships, school leaders will have to make tough decisions in order to offer financial assistance to students currently receiving tax credit scholarships. Inevitably, many schools will lose vital members of their communities due to financial constraints.
Who supports the TCS program?
The TCS program has a broad and diverse coalition behind it, including schools, families, legislators, donors, and community partners from a variety of races, income brackets, religions, and political affiliations.
The program has a history of bipartisan support in its original passage, in the campaigns to keep the program intact, and in the recent improvements made to the program. Just this year, the Illinois House and Senate unanimously supported improvements to the Invest in Kids Act that increased program stability and accessibility.
Additionally, an April 2021 poll found that 61% of Illinois voters support the TCS program, including 67% of Democratic voters, 81% of Latino voters, and 71% of Black voters.
How can I help?
We hope you will join us to make sure tax credit scholarships are protected and extended to continue providing kids from low-income and working-class families access to their best-fit school.
Click here to tell your legislator to remove the program’s sunset or kids across Illinois will lose their scholarships. You can use one of our pre-written messages or write your own.
Additionally, you can text “RTS” to 52886 to sign up for campaign alerts.