Empower Illinois believes every student, regardless of their race, income, academic ability, or ZIP Code deserves access to a quality education. But for too many children who live near poverty or for students with certain special needs, those opportunities are out of reach.
In 2017, Empower Illinois worked alongside a broad and diverse coalition to pass the Invest in Kids Act, a $100 million tax credit scholarship program, to answer the call of so many for quality educational options. This represented the first private school choice program in Illinois.
The Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship program provides K-12 scholarships for students in low-income and working-class families to attend a qualified private school in Illinois through a scholarship provided by private donor dollars.
*Data from 2018-2019 School Year
Private donors may give up to $1.33 million to the qualifying Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO), such as Empower Illinois, to provide scholarships. Donors are then eligible to receive a 75 percent ($1 million cap) state tax credit on the donation to be used against the individual or corporation’s state and local tax liability.
Different from many existing tax credit scholarship programs around the country, donors may designate their donations to specific schools or school systems. At this time, corporations can donate, but may not designate their donation.
As a result of donations, qualifying students may apply and receive scholarships worth up to 100 percent of required tuition at a private school of their choice. Higher scholarships are available for specific populations of students, including; English language learners (ELL), students with individualized education plans (IEPs), and academically gifted students.