This is my twenty-first year at Bethel Lutheran and my eighteenth as principal. I trained as a teacher and taught for two years at a Lutheran school before leaving to work for my family’s business. Over a decade passed, and I felt a pull to come back to education. I was on Bethel Lutheran’s School Board for a while, and then decided to return as a computer teacher.
As principal, I heard about the Tax Credit Scholarship (TCS) Program and found Empower Illinois. Once we were approved to participate, we had a few donations trickle in. But we worked hard to spread the word, and fundraising picked up.
Now, many families rely on tax credit scholarships to attend our school. It not only benefits our students and school community, but our church. Before TCS we provided as many scholarships as we could through our church, and our members were very supportive, but we were not able to offer much to families because we wanted to take care of everyone. The TCS program completely removed that burden, and since it began, we have not lost one family due to lack of funds.
We were fortunate enough to also take advantage of Empower Illinois’ corporate match program, where employees make a tax credit scholarship donation designated to our school, and their employer matches that gift as a charitable donation for us to use as we see fit. Those additional funds came in at the perfect time, allowing us to upgrade our technology and provide more individual devices to our students.
For schools who are interested in participating in the program and taking advantage of these scholarships, I would just encourage them to talk it up, go out, make people aware. Don’t be scared of it.
To donors, I would say you are making an investment by giving to this program. For a few thousand dollars you can provide an education to a kid in need, and you receive 75% of that donation back as a tax credit, which magnifies your impact. There is really no downside to donating!