Ebony Jethro and her husband live in East St. Louis, Illinois with their four daughters. 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.
“At first, I chose Sister Thea Bowman because it was close to home and I did not want to send my children to the local public school. Now, Sister Thea Bowman is like family. The care they provide, the genuine concern, and the education is amazing,” Ebony says. “My kids play the violin, receive exposure to different ways of life, and the faith-based aspect of the school is important to us. Additionally, because the classes are small you get that one-on-one interaction with the staff. They just know us, and I really feel as though they love our family.”
Ebony’s daughters have already received their tax credit scholarships for the upcoming school year—one at Sister Thea Bowman and two at Althoff Catholic High School. She says, “it was such a relief when the funding came through in early April. Althoff picks up where Sister Thea Bowman left off and I hope the education my kids receive there will help them receive college scholarships.”
This past year has been particularly difficult for the Jethro family. Their youngest daughter has special needs, and her husband has experienced some health issues, both of which contributed to their financial strains. Not to mention the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Wondering if you will be able to pay bills or for medication that is not covered by insurance is very stressful. These scholarships really are a lifeline for us. It is a fresh start. It means so much, I can’t even put it into words,” she says.
When asked what would happen if the Governor’s proposed cuts to the Tax Credit Scholarship Program were passed, Ebony says, “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 school and health. 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.”