Experience with Program Satisfaction
When asked to indicate how well their child’s experience matched with why they applied for the program, 92% indicated ‘extremely well’ or ‘very well’.
Public to Private School Satisfaction
Of those families who were entering a private school directly from a public school, 89.7% indicated ‘extremely well’ or ‘very well’.
Public Charter to Private School Satisfaction
Of those families who were entering a private school directly from a public charter school, 91% indicated ‘extremely well’ or ‘very well’.
Ebony J., Mother
When the Tax Credit Scholarship Program began in 2018, three of Ebony’s children were able to attend Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School on full scholarships. “At the time, my husband was in between jobs. We would not have been able to afford the tuition without this program. The scholarships gave us the financial freedom to buy a new vehicle and complete some needed home repairs,” she says.
“Without these scholarships, families like mine would not have the opportunity to send their children to a school where they are pushed to excel and do their best. For my family, we would have to choose between the kids’ education and our medical bills. That would be a hard decision. It just would not be right. We want the same opportunities for our children as families have who can afford the tuition. I hope legislators will realize that these scholarships are impacting everyday families and communities and ask them to please keep this program.” Read more.
Patricia W., Grandmother
I’m fighting for tax credit scholarships on behalf of my grandson. My son, his father, attended the local public school and became very lost. He ended up not graduating and became involved in drugs. He is not involved in my grandson’s life. My grandson’s mother cares for him with the help of her parents who are immigrants from Mexico, and she works full time. I try to help as much as I can, and I promised her I would try to save enough money to send my grandson to a private school by junior high, because that is when my son started going down the wrong path.
My grandson is thriving at his new school and loves it. He does not have many male role models in his life, so to have a male principal he looks up to who knows his name has made a huge impact. Additionally, his mother and grandparents are very happy he’s able to get a religious education and participate in the sacraments, like First Communion. Read more.
Patrick T., Father
I’m a single father. There was no way I was going to be able to afford my daughter attending Fenwick High School on an Uber driver salary. I could work 15 hours a day, seven days a week and it still wouldn’t be enough. I was exploring ways to make this switch to Fenwick possible, and I found Empower Illinois. I applied and went through the process. We were so happy when we got word back that Autumn received a scholarship. It was such a relief.
Autumn is also a martial artist. That’s a big part of who she is and her major commitment outside of the classroom. She’s on an invitation-only team out of San Jose, California, and competes nationally. Her goal is to make Team USA. She’s an incredibly talented kid and we think there’s a real future there. Of course, martial arts is also a very expensive thing to do. I would have to choose between her education and her dream. This scholarship made both possible. That’s why I think cutting the Tax Credit Scholarship Program would be a horrible mistake. Read more.
Desiree T., Mother
Life has not always been easy for me. I struggled trying to figure out how to feed my children, clothe them, and provide a stable home. I have always worked two, sometimes even three, jobs to survive. I have been in college trying to better my education so I could give my children the best. It is very hard as a single mother with little to no help, but I try my hardest every day to make the best of it.
Being able to send my children to a private school where their education is the top priority is why I am working so hard. If these scholarship funds were not available, I would struggle even more trying to make it happen. Empower Illinois has been a blessing for us! It has taken the load off my shoulders to provide a better education for my children, knowing I still have a chance to make life a little bit better for them. Read more.
Danielle L., Mother
This program is so vital to kids who come from lower income families. At public school, I felt like my kids were just a number – like standing in line at a deli. At their private schools they get so much more one-on-one attention, and I feel as though their chances will increase to attend a good college and get a well-paying job. And hopefully they will be in a position in the future where they can afford to send their kids to the school of their choice. This education will stick with them for years. I never dreamed my kids could attend schools like this, and Empower Illinois made it possible.
Even if we do not receive scholarships this year, I know this program helps so many families like mine. It would be a real shame to cut this program. What is more important than our children’s future? Read more.
Kurt W., Father
My wife and I have been married for 25 years. We have five children – aged 19, 17, 14, 12, and nine. We were originally a homeschooling family, but when my wife went back to work, we decided St. Mary’s would be the best for several of our children. We both work in the public sector, so even with the financial aid that St. Mary’s was offering us, we were probably going to have to make some tough decisions. But then Empower Illinois and the scholarships came onto the scene.
It’s been such a blessing not just for us, but for many other families at St. Mary’s and schools across Illinois. This program relies on the generosity of its donors. People and businesses from across Illinois don’t have to donate to get kids into better schools. But they do. It’s such a phenomenal program and I thank God every time I think about it. It’s given all of us the opportunity to send our kids where they need to be. Read more.
Sharyl R., Mother
When the COVID-19 pandemic happened, things started getting worse. Obviously remote learning is not as effective as being in the classroom, and by August I realized that it was not working for my kids. I pulled my boys out of the public school and started homeschooling them. There are a lot of resources, but it was a lot to juggle, especially with my own schoolwork.
After a few months of homeschooling, I was having a really hard time. My husband and I discussed if we should try living on a tighter budget or taking money out of our retirement fund to afford private school for the kids. I remember that was a Tuesday night, and then Wednesday morning we received a call from Faith Evangelical Lutheran that they had a 75% scholarship for Isaiah for the 2020-2021 school year. If that is not an answer to a prayer, I do not know what is! Read more.
Sarah M., Mother
When we received a scholarship for my daughter to attend St. Malachy this upcoming school year, it was a huge relief. I’ll be able to afford to send my twins to preschool, so they’ll get the education jump-start and socialization they need. Plus, my daughter was thrilled to be able to tell her friends and teachers at St. Malachy that she will be back next year. She loves it, and the small class sizes and values they instill have made all the difference. Read more.
Elizabeth F., Mother
I am a mother of soon to be 5 children. I was a single mother with my first 2 children for 5 years. I would dedicate and sacrifice myself to work to earn enough money for them to attend a Catholic school. When I got married, we moved out to a new home and I became a stay at home mom. That’s when things became very difficult for us because we were unable to afford the tuition on a single income. Sadly, for the first year my children attended a local public school for the first time in their lives and that had a major impact on them. My children were noticeably unhappy and it felt like everything I sacrificed to educate them and give them a good formation in their upbringing went to waste right before my eyes. Just when I felt like all hope was gone is when I heard about Empower Illinois from my sister. I immediately took action, and with much hope and prayer both my children were blessed with receiving this scholarship. Read more.
Before my divorce, all three of my sons were attending private Jewish Day Schools, and afterward I became solely finically responsible for their education. The divorce was already a huge upset in my children’s lives, and I wanted to keep things as normal as possible. Pulling them out of school where they had friends and a community they had grown to know and love would have been another huge disruption and derailed my efforts to raise them as Orthodox Jewish young men.
We first heard about Empower Illinois through Fasman Yeshiva High School in Skokie and applied. Thankfully, we received scholarships all four years of the Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which allowed me to keep my kids at their best-fit schools. I felt sending them to a school where they could receive a Jewish-based education was incredibly important towards maintaining their Jewish identify. The pull to assimilate to the outside world is so strong, people often lose the desire to stay within the fold. Their Jewish education has made all the difference in helping them become successful young men who are involved in the community and religiously observant. Read more.
Beatrice M., Mother
Thank you for awarding our children the Empower Illinois Scholarship for the Fall 2020 – Spring 2021 school year. It is truly a blessing. The feeling of happiness overwhelmed me as I read the award notice.
Prior to receiving the award, my husband and I were certain we would not be able to afford our children’s private school. My husband has not worked since March due to COVID-19. Things have not been easy. With your support, my sons are able to take advantage of in-person learning. We are blessed to have them in a faith-based school to help them emotionally during these challenging times.
Tamika N., Mother
I would like to thank you for your generous donation, and express my sincere gratitude for the scholarship we were awarded. With this scholarship my son has been able to receive a world class education at a great school. The financial assistance has helped us focus on curriculum and his studies without any distraction regarding financial status. Thank you very much for awarding us this scholarship.
Elvira R., Mother
The school my sons were attending was closing, leaving them in educational limbo. We thought of getting into a wonderful, private school but knew that the tuition would be out of our budget.
This is where Empower Illinois comes in: we filled out a scholarship application and figured the least that could happen is that we wouldn’t get it. Yet to our great surprise, we received a scholarship and, equally important, an opportunity to dream once again by knowing that my sons were able to continue to pursue their love of learning.
Allyssa N., Mother
Thank you so much for the opportunity you gave to our son. We could never afford to send him to the amazing private school he is currently attending because of Empower Illinois. We tried 3 consecutive years to get this scholarship, and our persistence finally paid off.
He is the happiest I have seen him in a long time. He’s making friends with kids who are like minded and understand him. He is learning so much everyday from his brilliant teachers. Thank you to every single person who donated any amount! We are forever grateful.
Jada O., Student
When I was in the public middle school, it was difficult because I didn’t understand the things that they taught. Like in my math class, they taught math one way and I didn’t understand it.
I would always stress and tell my mom, I can’t do this. I can’t learn this way. And when I came here, my teachers taught me strategies and other ways to learn how to do the math. Wolcott School really helps because they teach you a variety of ways to help you learn best…People should be very proud when they donate to people who can’t afford to go to really good schools–go to schools that would actually help them and take the time to listen and just really take the time out of their day to help students, whether they have a learning difference or not. They make a difference in people’s lives. And that if they weren’t here giving their money and supporting people like me who need a scholarship to go to a school that really helps them, then none of that would be possible. And they should be very proud, and I will be very thankful for all of those people.
Jennifer L., Mother
As a single mom, I do not know what we would do without this program. With the newfound financial freedom provided by tax credit scholarships, I was able to go back to school and finish my Associate’s Degree. I’m currently pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree while working full time. I fully support funding for public schools, but the way the system is right now, they would not offer the same resources and quality education for my kids. I hope legislators realize that this program is the only way that hard-working families like mine can send their children to their best-fit school. I’ll do whatever I can to help the program, and hope to become a donor myself once I am financially able. Read more.
Grace C., Mother
When my husband passed away, I had to try to figure out whether they could stay or if we’d have to move schools. It was really hard, in all honesty. This was the school they’ve always been at. It began to look like I would need to send them elsewhere because of our financial means.
When I heard about Empower Illinois and these scholarships, that was the first glimmer of hope we had. It has been such a blessing for our family. The tax credit scholarships have really helped and allowed my kids to stay at their school. Read more.
Toni S., Mother
Her biggest thing was that she wanted to go where she felt she belonged, where she was surrounded by her type of people. Without our Invest in Kids scholarships, none of this would have ever been a possibility. I would have had to tell my daughter ‘no.’ Cutting or eliminating the program would be a big mistake. Kids with bright futures ahead of them would get lost in the mix, in the midst of overcrowded schools when they deserve a better education. Read more.
Crystal H., Mother
I’m really her only support, and I wanted to support her, but private school is so expensive that it was hard for me to even think about sending her to Cristo Rey St. Martin without a scholarship.
She received the scholarship for her freshman year, starting last fall. I remember, honestly, just crying out of happiness. I knew that this is the right path for her. She was overwhelmed with joy, too – knowing that she’d be going somewhere that would support her and challenge her. Read more.
Montell G., Mother
I was paying fifty percent tuition, which was doable and well worth the money, but the school called me in December and said they were able to offer us a full scholarship. It was a huge blessing. Without these scholarships, I would not be able to afford private school tuition for my son.
I was an Illinois student who was able to attend private grammar and high school on scholarships, and I think my education gave me the best chance to succeed. Here I am years later with both a Bachelors and an Associates degree. I support public schools, and they work for some students, but education cannot be one size fits all. Read more.
Courtney H., Mother
This Tax Credit Scholarship Program gives me the ability to send my daughter, to what I believe is the best school. It also relieved a lot of stress – I work full time, am a single mother, and get no assistance anywhere else. Her father passed away in 2014, so all financial responsibility falls onto my shoulders. I can work on bettering our future financially while getting help from families who want to give back to their local community. Read more.
Tracy M., Mother
My daughter is currently a third grader at St. Mary Nativity in Joliet, Illinois. Every year since Kindergarten, they have worked with me and the payments I could make, when I could make them, until the tuition was paid in full. This year, and for next year, she is a recipient of the Empower Scholarship. We are so blessed to have been selected, as this year has been extremely difficult. My pay has gone down considerably with the COVID-19 pandemic, and I did not want to have to take her out of school.
Lexis has a heart condition (MVP) as well as an ISP for her ADHD. The school has been so wonderful with looking out for her – watching for signs of distress and developing plans to help her succeed in school. I could not ask for a better staff and loving, nurturing environment for Lexi to have everyday. This much needed help is truly a gift from God, and we thank all of those who have made this scholarship possible every night when we say our prayers.
Jessica S., Mother
This has been our second year getting the scholarship. Years ago, my daughter had been going to a Catholic school for preschool, but I could only afford to keep her there for three half days during the week, on my own. I work as a cashier at Jewel Osco, and people were telling me to apply for these scholarships.
We changed schools to Pope Francis Global Academy for her to try to receive a tax credit scholarship. It was sort of last minute; we didn’t think we were going to get anything. I was so grateful when the news came. I didn’t know if I could go through another year of working part time and balancing all of it.
I cried when we found out. It was such a relief. It’s hard because I am relying on other people and their generosity to make ends meet. I can’t wait to be a donor to this program. I need to return the favor because Invest in Kids has made such a huge difference in our lives. Read more.
Gail K., Grandmother
My daughter passed away in 2018, leaving Harper (5yrs) and her sister, Elayna (11yrs) in our care. Their father was in prison and there was no life insurance in my daughter’s name.
Both girls were attending public schools. Elayna was thriving, but Harper was having behavioral and learning issues. When we became their guardians we discussed transferring both girls into private schools, but financially it was not feasible, as my husband had recently retired and I was also retired but working a part-time retail job.
With Elayna enjoying and performing well in the public school, we decided to transfer Harper into St. Clare School the year following her mother’s passing. We received a partial contribution from our family parish, which was much appreciated but was still a financial burden for us. We wanted to continue Harper’s private education and was encouraged to apply for the Empower Illinois tax credit scholarship. We were THRILLED to receive the notice of her award this year. We sincerely appreciate the assistance and pray that Harper’s success continues at St. Clare School.
Rich G., Father
We have three girls and providing them with a quality, Catholic education is very important to us. My wife and sister-in-law both attended Blessed Sacrament in Belleville, so we knew it was a great school. Our oldest started in Pre-Kindergarten, so we’ve been there over a decade, and affording the tuition has been a struggle.
Our youngest daughter was born with a health condition, so one of us needed to be her full-time caretaker. My job offered more flexibility, so I stepped into that role. With mounting medical bills and limited income, we really had to hustle to afford the tuition at Blessed Sacrament, but it was a priority for us, and the school has been very gracious with our payment plan. My wife did a lot of research looking for any source of financial aid, and thankfully we found the Tax Credit Scholarship Program.
We did not receive scholarships the first two years we applied, but we kept trying, and this past school year received awards for our two older girls. It was such a blessing. It gave us the breathing room to focus on our youngest daughter, who is also at Blessed Sacrament and attending Kindergarten this year on a tax credit scholarship. When she started there in Pre-K, she was crying every day when we dropped her off. But after the first semester, there was no more crying. The teachers gave her the confidence to feel comfortable there and have done so much to accommodate her. It’s been amazing. Read more.
Katie B., Mother
My family and I are very grateful for the Empower Illinois scholarship, which we have received over the past several years. My husband and I have four kids. On the day that our third child was born in 2010, my husband lost his job and was subsequently unemployed for 15 months. During my maternity leave for that same child, I lost my job. That was a dark period for our family and the effects have lasted quite a few years. At that time, our oldest was in preschool at a Catholic grade school. We had a lot of tough decisions to make. Should we try to stay in our house? Should we keep our kids in Catholic school? We ultimately sold our house in a short sale and moved in with my parents. However, our dedication to Catholic school never waivered, and we decided that we would keep our kids in Catholic school no matter what. Read more.
Brianna Y., Student
Both my parents came here at a young age. They’re immigrants and they wanted something better for us. They wanted something better for their families. Before we started receiving financial aid, my parents were working 15 hours a day, nonstop. So, having the opportunity to receive this scholarship is giving them more time to be with us, which is very great for us, for my siblings and I. We’re spending more time with our family. I’m a recipient of a tax credit scholarship, as well as my younger brother. Without that scholarship, we probably would have been going to the local public schools, which aren’t as great as my Catholic school is. I feel part of a community. People are welcoming here, and I’m learning values and life lessons that I’ll carry on throughout college, my life, high school, everywhere, that are irreplaceable to me. I’m striving to go to an Ivy League school, God willingly, and in college, I would like to become a neonatal physician. My motivation is for my parents. I want to repay them in the future, to do something better for everything that they’ve given my family.
Jasmine B., Mother
Jasmine is the mother of three students at St. Patrick Catholic School in Springfield. Two of her kids had attended public schools, but she felt they were just a number, and did not get their needs met. Jasmine attended St. Patrick herself, but could not afford to send her kids to the school she felt was “home” to her.
During the 2019-2020 school year, however, she received a full tuition scholarship for both her older children. This enabled them to afford a school that addresses their special needs, including odd work schedules and low-income. She was also able to send her daughter to dance class, and her son was able to play Little League. Without the scholarships, this would not have been possible. God had His eye on Jasmine’s family.
Jasmine was instrumental in protecting the Invest in Kids Act in the 2019 legislative session, making several trips to the state Capitol. Her story was one of hope and encouragement, as she explained how much the Invest in Kids Act had changed the dynamics of her family’s education.
Theresa G., Mother
As a single mother of five children, I am forever grateful to Empower Illinois. While my oldest has graduated, my four daughters were in limbo this past school year. My children have attended Catholic schools since they were three years old, but I have to struggled to make ends meet in recent years, and I was concerned I could no longer pay for tuition. I prayed for a miracle everyday. The school district we live in is overcrowded and underperforming, so I knew I would do all I could keep them in Catholic schools, but I did not know if it would be possible. I reluctantly registered them for the fall and within a few weeks I received word of my award from Empower Illinois. I literally cried tears of joy. It was an overwhelming sense of relief to know my children could continue receiving a quality education.
Angela M., Mother
Without the Empower Illinois scholarship, I would not be able to afford to send my children to a great school. I am a single mother of two children. My son is a junior in high school, in all honor and AP classes. Last year, I qualified for the Empower Illinois scholarship, and it helped me out tremendously! I was finally able to breathe and not have to worry about how I was going to make ends meet. My daughter is in Kindergarten, her father passed away in the beginning of August. With the help of this scholarship, I was able to keep her in the school that I trusted and believed would be the best for her. She is growing, and her teachers are going above and beyond to help make sure she is more than ready for 1st grade. I wouldn’t want to take her from that.
Michael T., Grandfather
As a single grandparent of two school children it is very difficult to provide them with all the tools and some basic items they require to be healthy and successful. Thanks to this program, my granddaughter is able to attend a school that will help her gain confidence, and the skills she will need. Without the help we have been able to prosper from, I don’t know what we’ll do next year.