After helping to pass the Invest in Kids Act in 2017, Empower Illinois remained committed to working with schools and families as a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) and managing the Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program. In order to meet the demand for tens of thousands of students applying for scholarships and the management of donations made by thousands donors, Empower Illinois has made innovative use of computing technology. Since the beginning of Empower Illinois, the inventive application of technology to solve the issues of operating a large-scale SGO has played an essential role in our growth and development.
We are proud to have worked with Launchpad Lab (LPL) since the inception of the Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship (TCS) Program. Together, Empower Illinois and LPL developed EmpowerXChange–a custom designed technology platform, capable of handling the massive demand of Illinois families for private school scholarships and then matching eligible students to donations made to Empower Illinois at designated schools. The students receive scholarship awards on a first-come, first-served basis, as required by law. EmpowerXChange was created to meet the requirements of the Illinois TCS Program, which is more challenging to administer than the scholarship programs in many other states.
Since 2018, the EmpowerXChange platform has been engineered to automate important activities from the reservation of students’ first-come, first-served positions, to the processing of student applications and the management of individual donations. EmpowerXChange accommodates the award of tax credit scholarships, as well as other Empower Illinois donor funded scholarship programs, separate from the Illinois TCS Program. The platform allows us to award scholarships quickly and efficiently, so families can make the best decisions for each of their students in a timely way and plan for the upcoming school year. Similarly, EmpowerXChange allows schools to manage their donations and their TCS students smoothly and expeditiously.
EmpowerXChange aims to provide transparency to thousands of our Illinois families and hundreds of participating schools throughout the scholarship awarding process. As a part of this transparency, each family and school has an individualized portal, which allows them to track the entire scholarship process. The families and schools can track a student’s place in line for a scholarship, the award stage of the scholarship, and the final dollar amount of the scholarship awarded at the school of their choice. With EmpowerXChange, schools can better manage enrollment and admissions decisions with real-time student and donation information, and families are able to stay up-to-date on the status of their students’ applications.
One of a Kind Platform
The EmpowerXChange platform is the only software solution commercially available that has been designed and engineered to meet the unique, public-scale demands of managing SGO programs implemented through state-level education opportunity policies. The platform’s elegant design allows for customization and can be adapted to meet the demands of many different types of large-scale education programs. We look forward to expanding this technology and making it available to other organizations managing scholarship programs. For more information about EmpowerXChange or to learn how EmpowerXChange can help your organization, please contact us at [email protected]
EmpowerXChange’s unique design and operation is so distinctive that the technology is now patented. No other scholarship granting organization in Illinois, or the country, offers such a user-friendly, transparent, and easy-to-use platform as Empower Illinois.
In September 2021, EmpowerXChange was selected as a Top 100 Finalist for the Chicago Innovation Awards. The awards recognize Chicago’s most innovative new products and services.