Aug. 1, 2018 Press Release
Age of Agility Summit to Highlight Need for Changes in Education
Empower Illinois and America Succeeds host leaders in business, education and policy to discuss modernizing education
Chicago, IL – On August 9, 2018, business leaders, policymakers and education reform advocates from around the country will come together to explore how technology innovations are impacting workforce needs across the country. Presented by Empower Illinois, America Succeeds and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, this event will highlight the need for education systems to keep pace with the training and skill development required for the American workforce of tomorrow.
Advancements in technology, automation and artificial intelligence have caused shifts in the workforce, which consequently require a drastic change in how we prepare and educate future leaders. Children attend school to learn, grow and prepare for the real world, but the way the world operates continues to change at a rapid pace. It’s critical that these technological advancements are matched by changes in education to ensure students are prepared for the evolving careers that lie ahead.
The summit will confront these challenges with specific insights from some of America’s largest corporations including McDonald’s, Walmart and ExxonMobil.
Empower Illinois works to expand quality education options for low-income and working-class families of Illinois. The organization has championed a number of policy initiatives including tax credit scholarships for private K-12 tuition, teacher tax credits, gifted and unique learning initiatives and course equity programs.
“Demand for education innovation is strong from both parents and today’s corporate leaders,” said Myles Mendoza, President of Empower Illinois. “Our goal is to help each child receive an education that fits their specific needs, and a large part of that is teaching them in a way that prepares them for the workforce of the future.”
Together with America Succeeds, Empower Illinois is proud to support the Age of Agility Summit to call attention to the need for education reform among what is being called the second Industrial Revolution
“Technology is so much different and more advanced than it used to be, and that needs to be reflected in the classroom,” said Tim Taylor, President and Co-Founder of America Succeeds. “It’s critical that we recognize the changes that need to be made in education. It’s thanks to organizations on the ground level, like Empower Illinois, that changes are made and opportunities are created for kids of all backgrounds and learning levels.”
Children only get one chance at a quality education. Empower Illinois and their partners are committed to providing children with the education they need and deserve to succeed in the future.
For more information on the Age of Agility Summit, please visit http://ageofagility.org/event/summit-illinois.
About Empower Illinois:
Empower Illinois is a statewide Scholarship Granting Organization created in 2017 to serve Illinois children through the state’s tax credit scholarship program. Empower Illinois’ mission is to expand quality education options for low-income and working-class families of Illinois.
The Invest in Kids tax credit scholarship program was created in Illinois to benefit children whose educational options are limited by household income. Empower Illinois serves as a conduit for processing donations, scholarship awards and program compliance for approximately 80% of all Illinois private schools.
About America Succeeds:
America Succeeds is a national network of non-partisan, business-led, policy and advocacy organizations that offer an informed and credible business voice for education in each state. America Succeeds works to ensure our nation’s public education system prepares every student to succeed in a competitive global economy. Learn more by visiting www.AmericaSucceeds.org.
Apr. 30, 2018 Press Release
Daly joins Empower Illinois board
MOLINE — Daniel Daly, President/CEO of SENB Bank, formerly Southeast National Bank, has joined the board of Empower Illinois, the state’s largest scholarship granting organization working with the Invest in Kids tax credit scholarship program. “My wife and I are focusing our attention on initiatives that benefit children and with Empower Illinois, families will have greater and higher quality choices to educate their children,” Mr. Daly said. “My goal is to help develop the resources needed to raise the funds to fully utilize the available Illinois tax credits and increase the education scholarships for those in need in Illinois.” Mr. Daly currently serves on several community boards and committees, including the board of directors of Renew Moline, the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce Regional Opportunities Council and the Board of Directors of SAL Children and Family Services. He also was a board member for the Boys and Girls Club in Peoria and chairman of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria. “Dan has been a key community leader in Peoria and the Quad Cities region and we’re very excited to have him on the board,” said Myles Mendoza, Empower Illinois President. Mr. Daly, a CPA, is a graduate of Spalding Institute and Bradley University. He has led SENB Bank for the past three years. SENB has branches in Moline, Davenport, Bettendorf and Buffalo.
Apr. 27, 2018 Press Release
Rockford Lutheran Schools and Diocese of Rockford Press Conference Highlights Need for Invest in Kids Act
April 27, 2018, Rockford, Ill. – On Thursday, April 26, supporters of the Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program came together for a press conference to showcase the strong need for the program within the Rockford area.
The speakers included program donors as well as parents seeking scholarships who emphasized how critical this program is for students in the area. In Rockford alone, over 1,500 students have applied for scholarships to attend private schools.
Rockford parent Javier Argumedo received a scholarship for his daughter who will attend Boylan Catholic High School next year. Without the program, this would not have been an option for his family. Javier said he is grateful for the program because not only does it help him, but it helps his daughter, too. “I feel like I won the lottery.”
The tax credit scholarship program, which offers K-12 private school scholarships to low-income and working-class families, has demonstrated the extreme demand for better education options for Illinois students. Over 50,000 students and families throughout the state have applied for scholarships through Empower Illinois, the largest scholarship granting organization in the state. These scholarships are made possible by contributions from individuals and businesses, who in turn receive a 75% tax credit for their donation.
Tom Bauhuin, a program donor, attended Rockford private schools and was proud to send his children there as well. He strongly supports the program as it allows him and his wife the chance to pass on that great education experience to a child in need, giving them “the opportunity of choice.”
“There is an overwhelming amount of interest from families in the Rockford area,” said Scott Dabson, Greater Rockford Area Lutheran Schools Director. “It clearly shows the need for families to have options when it comes to their child receiving a quality education.”
The Invest in Kids Act and tax credit scholarship program represent a major step forward in providing students the chance to get the quality education they need and deserve. The program was established as a bipartisan endeavor by Illinois lawmakers. Empower Illinois is committed to improving access to quality education for every child in every neighborhood.
Feb. 28, 2018 Press Release
More than 33,000 Children Apply for Private School Scholarships
Empower Illinois reopens application process
February 28, 2018, Chicago, IL – Thousands of students and families throughout the state began the application process yesterday for K-12 private school scholarships. After just the first evening, Empower Illinois received applications on behalf of more than 33,000 Illinois students.
Tuesday evening marked the first day that students and families could submit their online applications to Empower Illinois to take advantage of the Invest in Kids Act. These scholarships cover up to 100% of private school tuition for low-income and working-class students throughout the state.
“Our mission is to provide as many students as possible with access to the school that best suits their needs,” said Myles Mendoza, Executive Director of Empower Illinois. “We knew demand was strong. Now that the system is operational, we will put every effort toward working with our network schools to raise the funds needed to meet this demand statewide.”
To date, the tax credit scholarship program has received over $45 million in pledged donations. Tax credits are reserved through the Illinois Department of Revenue and provide a 75% credit for each
donation. Donations are made to Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGO’s) throughout Illinois, including Empower Illinois.
Tuesday’s application served as step one of the new two-step system that was designed to make the process easier and less stressful for parents. The organization’s first attempt at releasing its
application failed when demand caused technology problems.
“The success of the Empower Illinois scholarship reservation process is a real win for families across Illinois,” said Dr. Jim Rigg, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago. “I am thrilled by the evident high demand for scholarships. This clearly demonstrates the appeal of quality schools of choice.”
“People from across Illinois came together to make a real difference in the lives of our kids,” explained Scott Dabson, Director of Greater Rockford Area Lutheran Schools. “Our children are our future and we owe it to them to do everything we can to provide for a quality education.”
One mom on the Empower Facebook page noted ‘Thank you for this opportunity. Truly life changing.’
Empower Illinois scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and those still interested in applying are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. The application can be found at
The Invest in Kids Act and subsequent tax credit scholarship program represents a major step forward in providing students the chance to get the quality education they need and deserve. The program was established as a bipartisan endeavor by Illinois lawmakers. Empower Illinois is committed to improving access to quality education for every child in every neighborhood.
Jan. 16, 2018 Policy Update
EMPOWER ILLINOIS POLICY STATEMENT
Empower Illinois understands and appreciates the effort to resolve the recognition issue facing many private K-12 schools in Illinois. All quality private schools deserve access to the Tax Credit Scholarship Program provided by the Invest in Kids Act.
After the passage of SB1947, many private schools found themselves investigating how to participate in the tax credit program.
While many were registered with the Illinois State Board of Education, a significant number had not pursued recognition, a voluntary process many deemed unnecessary in the private school marketplace.
While Governor Rauner’s amendatory veto of SB444 aimed to allow these schools to participate this year, it went too far, decreasing the standard schools need to meet in order to participate, and imperiling the positive funding opportunities of SB444.
Empower Illinois believes that a compromise can be reached, which will increase the number of schools that can participate in the program without decreasing their quality, instead improving the standards that allow participation in the program. The compromise, if signed by the Governor, will also allow SB444 to become law.
EI urges legislators to refile SB444, with the following amendment added:
“Qualified school” means a non-public school located in Illinois and recognized by the Board pursuant to Section 2-3.25o of the School Code or accredited by an accrediting agency approved by the Board. A non-public school shall become a qualified school immediately upon being recognized by the Board or immediately upon having their accreditation status approved by the Board.
Accreditation, like recognition, is a detailed review process, but it goes further — it not only looks at the health and safety at non-public schools, but also a school’s academic quality.
Further, it is our position that if a school is recognized or accredited in the 2017-2018 school year, IDOR should allow SGOs to list these schools for donors to donate to, and for students to receive scholarships. Of course, SGOs would not be able to submit payment to these schools until they officially become recognized or upon adoption of the suggested amendment, accredited too.
This amendment would not unnecessarily hold up critical public-school funding in Illinois while also increasing the number, and quality of non-public schools that can participate in the first year of the tax credit scholarship program.
It’s a win-win for all; especially the children who are our priority.